We navigate through the ever-changing business landscape to create growth avenues forthe future.
As I sit down to pen my thoughts on the year gone by the first thought that strikes meis that till last year it used to be my dear friend late
Mr. Ashwin Choksi addressing all of us through his annual letter. He was truly anamazing human being inspiring all of us to aim and achieve big and at the same time retainthe humility to connect and relate with people across all strata. Always eager to learnhe would spend hours interacting with the younger generation of employees understandingtheir views and drawing inspiration to keep the organisation s culture and imperativesrelevant with times. I will always cherish and take strength from his reassuring smile inmy endeavour to lead this organisation to greater heights.
On March 31st 2019 three stalwarts of our Board who have served theCompany for many years helping build what it is today retired. I am extremely gratefulto Mr. Mahendra Choksi Mr. Mahendra Shah and Mr. S. Ramadorai and would like to thankthem on behalf of Asian Paints Ltd. and all its shareholders for their contribution.Looking back at FY2018-19 it turned out to be another roller-coaster period with itsshare of uncertainty and volatility. On the positive side we saw some improvement in thedemand conditions in the domestic market as compared to the previous year with trade andsupply channels recovering from the past disruptions caused by demonetisation and theimplementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). However customer confidence wasuncertain and this has reflected in a marked slowdown witnessed in some of the largesectors of the economy particularly in the last quarter of the financial year.
Persistently tight credit conditions accentuated by the challenges in the NBFC(Non-Banking Financial Company) sector rising unemployment and low rural and urban incomegrowth were key contributors to the dampened sentiment. The year was also marked by highinflation on the raw material front leading to a tightening of the operating margins. Andthough we were able to recover a part of the margin pressure through price increases theuncertain demand conditions meant a consistent drive in the business to optimise its coststructure to alleviate the margin pressure. The international markets faced their own setof challenges with some markets affected by foreign exchange tightness while a fewimpacted by very high inflation levels and low GDP growths.
At the overall level I am very happy with the performance we have been able to delivernot withstanding difficult business conditions. Focussed efforts in expanding the marketby looking at upgradation from bottom of the pyramid resulted in volume growth of theIndia business to be the highest in the last few years. We continuously innovated bylaunching new products and services thereby moving forward in our journey of being themost inspirational home dcor brand for consumers. Our industry beating growth on ourmarket position is definitely an achievement that every stakeholder of this organisationshould be proud of.
At the same time we continue to uphold the highest standards of corporate governancetreating them as an ethical requisite rather than a regulatory necessity and continue tobase all our actions on the principles of fairness trust and transparency. During theyear Mrs. Pallavi Shroff a leading luminary from the field of Corporate Law and Mr.Suresh Narayanan a business stalwart of repute were appointed as Independent Directorsto the Board of the Company. The Board will benefit immensely from the vast and richexperience that these new members bring to the table.
Looking forward the business environment will remain true to its nature asuncertain and as unpredictable as ever. In such an environment only those organisationsthat put in efforts to remain relevant to the changing needs and preferences of consumers understanding the consumer requirements and adapting the business model to suitablyaddress these requirements will be able to deliver long-term growth and sustainablereturns to all the stakeholders. Our vision of becoming the most inspirational home dcorbrand is based on the growing consumer preference for curated dcor and personalisedsolutions as the consumer looks at creating a differentiated home space with a uniqueidentity. As an organisation we will continue to expand our product offerings and adaptour business channels from brick & mortar to digital to deliver on theseconsumer aspirations. AP Homes' our flagship decor outlets as well asbeautifulhomes.com' and asianpaints.com' the digital properties of our Companycontinue to provide critical insights in consumer behaviour and choices which will needto be harnessed effectively to establish our Company's dcor expertise. At the same timeproduct and application innovation to address the stated as well as unstatedconsumer needs will need to be a continuous investment. Our Research & Technologyfunction is fully geared towards this and its various research initiatives have helped uslaunch several pioneering products with distinctive value proposition for consumers.During the year we have launched some innovative products like Royale Health Shieldwhich has been designed to address the safety and health needs Apcolite Rust Shield toaddress the challenge of corrosion on metallic surfaces and
Ultima Protek Lamino which offers longer service life and unmatched performance.
Most importantly as we navigate through the ever-changing business landscape to creategrowth avenues for the future it is important to contribute positively towards thesociety and the environment. Efforts taken by us for water-usage reduction andwaste-generation reduction as well as investments made in the area of rainwaterharvesting and increasing renewable energy usage are steps taken to create a long-termsustainable journey for the organisation.
I take this opportunity to thank you all for the unwavering support and commitment thatcontinues to provide us strength to forge ahead in our endeavour.