It's been a year since I have had the honour of leading your Company. A year full of challenges with the tough macro-economic environment and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Despite the challenges it has been a pleasure and I thank you our team and the Board of Directors for the support and guidance in helping us navigate through these times.
The economy witnessed a slowdown in 2019-20 with the GDP growth declining from 6.1% in the previous year to 4.2%. While an improved monsoon had a positive impact on the agriculture sector the industry and manufacturing sectors were adversely impacted with a pronounced slowdown. The worst hit sector was the automotive industry which registered a contraction of 18% over previous year due to lower customer demand in anticipation of new launches compliant with Bharat VI emission norms coupled with liquidity challenges due to the NBFC crisis. GDP growth slowed to a 20-year low of 3.1% with manufacturing contracting by 1.4% in the last quarter of the year.
Our diverse portfolio and successful execution of customer focused projects enabled your Company gain market position in most segments and make steady progress towards profitable growth. Implementation of digital channel management practices in the Agricultural Solutions business and the inauguration of the Creation Center at our Innovation Campus in Mumbai which has hosted ~40 customer collaboration workshops in its first year were some of the highlights in our customer-oriented activities. We implemented the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system in our Company which allows us to better understand the pain-points of our customers enabling us to take necessary steps to improve the ease of doing business with us. Initial results point to a continuous improvement in our performance over the last year.
You would be pleased to note that your Company achieved strong sales growth for FY 2019-20 reaching Rs. 75510.5 million (25% growth Y-o-Y) on a comparable basis. The transition to merchandizing business model along with a strong focus on margins operational costs and working capital management led to improved profitability and cashflow. All business segments delivered growth despite the challenging market environment with our Agricultural Solutions and Nutrition & Care segments leveraging on investments in market development and product portfolio.
The COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent countrywide lockdown towards the end of FY 2019-20 had a marginal impact on the year gone by with sales & collections hampered only in the last week of March. However it has resulted in a significant demand drop in key sectors such as automotive construction & appliances that are relevant to the business of your Company. Automotive production in India came to a complete standstill in the first months of the FY 2020-21 due to the countrywide lockdown resulting in shutdowns across the manufacturing supply chain. Concurrently demand in areas related to nutrition hygiene and health witnessed an increase in demand during the crisis. The forecasts from various agencies project a GDP contraction for the FY 2020-21 with industry and manufacturing experiencing a significant decline. In these difficult times your Company has focused on the safety of our Company and employees while supporting our customers to enable a speedy recovery in the post-COVID scenario.
As part of BASF's global portfolio optimization your Company has transferred the Construction Chemicals business to Master Builders Solutions India Private Limited and your Board of Directors have also approved the acquisition of 100% stake in BASF Performance Polyamides India Private Limited. Continuing with these structural reforms will be key to emerging stronger post the downturn when the positive policies and relief measures from the government build up demand in the economy.
A steadfast commitment towards high EHS standards sustainability and operational excellence continues. Your Company has enhanced water storage and saving capabilities at the Dahej and Mangalore sites. Moreover several plants of your Company have been certified by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF). The team is also driving simplification through digitalization of as-is processes at various plants across the country. This helps to sweat our manufacturing assets to cater to the needs of various industry segments and provides end-to-end project visibility and enhanced productivity.
Through our 155-year legacy BASF has witnessed several ups and downs and has only evolved further by harnessing innovative chemistry. With BASF's solidarity solidity and reliability I am hopeful that we will emerge from the current volatile scenario stronger. Let me therefore sum up by reemphasizing that our priorities on setting a course for sustainable and profitable growth for your Company remains intact. I truly appreciate your continued and valuable support.
Take care and stay safe!
With best wishes