I do hope and pray that you and your families are safe and well in these challengingtimes.
On the business front the reverberations of the market setback we experienced lastyear continues. The recessionary trend in the auto business has activated a wave ofconsequential challenges across the value chain. In the year went by the expected levelof improvement in the liquidity of NBFCs and the pre-buy ahead of BS VI introduction wehad hoped for did not materialize. From March this year as you know well the COVID-19pandemic has caused a debilitating impact on all sectors of the economy. It is anybody'sguess as to when normalcy would be restored and what form would it take.
In this backdrop I am pleased to advise that the situation was managed well last yearwith some careful planning by your Company. The Management had the foresight to decide asearly as March 2019 to focus on costs efficiency and initiatives for the long term allof which have yielded creditable market and financial performance despite the odds.
Your Company had made a courageous decision to introduce arguably for the first timeever in India a modular truck platform AVTR for the medium & heavy range alongsidethe introduction of innovative i Gen BS VI emission technology. Both are individuallymajor technical challenges along with a mandated timeline to be met. It is indeed aproud moment for the Company when the design cost and time targets were achievedindigenously and innovatively. In addition we are now ready with an in-house developednew LCV range and the launch had to be deferred due to the COVID-19 crisis. Theintroduction is expected to be a game changer just as DOST did further reinforcing ourproduct range. Your Company is also making inroads into the electric vehicle segment inbuses locally here as well as in the London market through the Optare range. We are movingfast in the learning curve in this realm keeping pace with global trends and are poisedfor major strides soon.
As always there have been new product introductions and upgrades last year to freshenup the product lines. 10x4 Tipper Sunshine LX model for ICV School segment 12m i EGR Busfor intercity segment and 11m FE CNG for intracity segment were launched in M&HCVsegment evoking positive customer response. The ICV and MDV range were strengthened withthe addition of the New Guru 1010 Boss 1616 Boss 1916 and the TF2312. The A.C. MidiOyster bus was successfully launched at Prawaas 2019.
There were some recognitions:
Dost+ and Guru1010 respectively won the Pick-up of the Year and the Promising Debut ofthe Year awards.
Dost won Pickup of the Year and SCV of the Year at the ET NOW Global Awards.
Best Employer of 2019 by AON.
At the 8th Manufacturing Today Awards the CSR initiatives were adjudged the"Winner in the award category - Excellence in CSR" for the second consecutiveyear.
Winner of "Golden Peacock Award for Risk Management" in the category of"Automotive" for the year 2019 second year in a row.
In addition the Ashok Leyland corporate office is the first office in India and fourthin the world to receive LEED v4.1 Platinum certification which is the benchmark for Greenbuilding.
Our CSR initiatives under the Road to School drive expanded the coverage by introducingthe breakfast scheme brought out new avenues of health hygiene nutrition and sportsinitiatives for the children. We now cover 55000 children up from 20000 in the previousyear and have ambitious plans to scale up every year widening the scope as well.
Looking ahead our long-term outlook for the sector continues to remain positive withthe current phase seen only as an aberration. As the governmental measures to reactivatethe commercial sector are awaited the management has taken the opportunity of the lastfew months to re-examine the business and operating models without any presumptions. Upona clinical assessment of the short term and long-term prospects a series of initiativeshave been set in motion to reconfigure the Company aimed at sustainable growth whileminimising the adverse impact of economic cycles.
I strongly believe that now is the opportune time for Indian OEMs like Ashok Leyland tomove without inhibition and seek a global position by showcasing our manufacturingprowess and demonstrating the products of global standards of quality and reliability.With AVTR and the upcoming LCV range I would like to mention with reasonable confidencethat your Company is ready to expand its presence in India and multiple overseas markets.Another thrust area for the Company is Defence. Being one of the largest providers oflogistic vehicles to our armed forces we will continue to position mobility products andsolutions in an accelerated manner. We should be seeing the benefits of our plans andefforts before long.
As you know we have in our midst a new leader Mr. Vipin Sondhi who joined us lastyear as the MD & CEO. He comes with a rich and diversified experience in the Autosector and I would like to welcome him to the Ashok Leyland family and wish him well tosteer the Company to even greater heights.
In the travails of the past and in the new paradigm we are envisaging for the futureour constant source of strength is the indefatigable spirit of our employees and I wouldlike to thank them for their commitment patience and hard work.
I would also like to thank our extended family of dealers suppliers financialinstitutions strategic partners and customers for their continuing faith in us.