Venu Srinivasan, who built TVS Motor Company, since 1980, into one among the top five global manufacturers of two- and three-wheelers, has decided to step down as chairman in January 2023.
He will be replaced by Ralf Speth, former chief executive officer of Jaguar Land Rover.
Speth joined the company’s board on Thursday.
While Srinivasan will become chairman emeritus, Speth will “mentor” TVS Motor, which is eyeing around 20 per cent of its sales from premium products and is planning to expand its premium brand in North America and Europe as part of its vision to be among the top three or four two-wheeler brands globally.
Speaking to Business Standard, Srinivasan said TVS had global aspirations after the acquisition of British iconic brand Norton last year and is developing its own premium products.
“We would like to have a chairman who can guide and mentor the company to be more driven, agile and work faster,” said Srinivasan, 68.
His son, Sudarshan Venu, is executive director-MD with joint managing director rank, while K N Radhakrishnan will stay as chief executive officer. On what will happen to the MD’s post, Srinivasan said, "We will see at that time. I will still be a director.”
Both Srinivasan and Speth have been working together as non-executive directors on the board of Tata Sons.
According to a company statement on Thursday, Speth brings with him enormous strength as the architect of Jaguar Land Rover. Srinivasan said Speth also had deep knowledge about the global automotive industry and an outstanding engineer.
“I have got a great mentor to build the future of TVS,” said Srinivasan, who is the grandson of the TVS Group’s founder T V Sundaram Iyengar.
Srinivasan, who worked as a mechanic in his own garage during vacations, took over as CEO of Sundaram-Clayton in 1979. TVS Motor was born the same year. Its market capitalisation is close to Rs 27,000 crore.
Srinivasan also pioneered the TQM (total quality management) concept based on the Japanese model, long before most enterprises in India did.
Sundaram Clayton, the holding company of TVS Motor and TVS Motor, were got the Deming Prize.
Speth began his career in BMW and did his PhD at Warwick Manufacturing Group and later joined Premier Auto Group, where he was responsible for product planning and quality. Later, he moved to the chemical giant Linde, where he ran global operations. Most recently, he was CEO of Jaguar Land Rover for over 11 years.
Around 33 per cent of TVS Motor’s sales now come from international markets, driven largely by commuting and entry level segments.
TVS wants to move up the value chain with its premium brands – the Norton, Apache, Ntorq, iQube (electric) -- and with launches.
“In five years over 50 per cent of sales will come from the global market. Of that around 20 per cent will be premium products. Premium products will contribute around 10 per cent of the overall sales of the company,” said Srinivasan, adding that margins are also good in premium products.
As part of market expansion, TVS is planning to strengthen its presence in developed markets including North America and Europe, South Korea and Japan, said Srinivasan.
Meanwhile, TVS Motor has appointed Kuok Meng Xiong (MX) as independent director. He is the scion of the Kuok Group, one of Asia’s leading business houses and the founder of venture firm K3 Ventures, where he has led early investment in 38 of the world’s leading start-ups and many Asian unicorns.