When I wrote to you last year the world was starting to witness the vagaries of theCOVID-19 pandemic while adapting to a new normal. In the past one year we can see that alot has changed in the way we live our lives. However the inherent will of humanity tolearn adapt and survive continues to be a constant.
As FY 2020-21 progressed one could see a clear divide between the earlier and thelatter quarters. This was led by a strong government stance to balance both lives andlivelihoods with lockdowns to protect public health while adopting much-needed fiscaland monetary policy measures to infuse liquidity into the system. We also witnessed thecorporate and non-profit sectors contributing actively to help the nation and its peopletogether with healthcare workers and others. The current external environment ischaracterised by cautious optimism led by the lifting of lockdowns during the second halfof the year a renewed focus on business activity concerted action and most importantlythe discovery of multiple COVID-19 vaccines. However a second wave of infections towardsthe end of the financial year and consequent lockdowns has threatened this recovery.
At an output level the global GDP is expected to rise by 6.0% in the coming yearwhereas for India this figure is estimated to be double the global average (Source: April2021 World Economic Outlook IMF). This reinforces the fact that India is inherentlyresilient and while the short-term uncertainties continue our long-term growth driversremain intact.
Review of Our Company Performance
This was a very challenging year for the Company as physical movement of consumersemployees and others were restricted owing to lockdowns during the early stage of thepandemic. Even as this unfolded we were quick to respond and held the safety of ouremployees and customers as a key priority by following all safety guidelines as advised byauthorities from time to time. We also temporarily commenced servicing our customersthrough new channels of delivery to provide them with essential goods through HomeDelivery (using the DMart Ready Online App) and DMart on Wheels for large housingcomplexes. Our construction activity was also severely impacted during the first half ofthe year. However towards the latter part of the year activity picked up and we weregradually able to open all our stores for customers with due safety precautions. We alsosaw our retail footprint grow to take our cumulative store count to 234 at the end of FY2020-21.
We are now witnessing some of the restrictions of the last year as a second wave ofinfections has hit the country. The enforcements at local levels are much stricter thistime. The impact of this second wave on our business and financials will depend on theseverity of the infections and the roll out of vaccines for all citizens.
In these testing times our collective opinion as a Board and as an organisation hasbeen to put the health and safety of our customers and employees first. Every DMartlocation continues to follow social distancing norms and all other safety protocols asdefined by the local authorities. Our commitments to our customers continue as we striveto provide them with essential supplies. Our CSR activity is directed towards primaryeducation in municipal schools. Students faced significant disruption during the yearthus our team gradually reached out to students by using virtual learning environments andenabled them to continue their learning amidst this disruption. We continue to improviseon our efforts in this area.
From an environmental standpoint we continue to obtain green building certificationsfor our buildings. We also continue to further invest in renewable energy and sewagetreatment plants among other environmentally friendly practices. Our organisation iscommitted to make a meaningful impact in this area.
As I conclude I would like to thank all our shareholders who continue to believe inDMart and what it stands for. I would also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to allour employees for their relentless focus commitment and dedication to help us serve ourcustomers in their hour of need. I am hopeful that the concerted efforts of the governmentauthorities and medical fraternity will help us tide this phase and usher in the nextphase of Indias growth