FY21 was a completely unprecedented year; a year of a global pandemicfollowed by global recession and subsequent government actions to reduce uncertainty inthe business scenario. It was a year during which many of us faced difficult personalchallenges too. In February 2021 it appeared that India may have managed the situationpretty well but then the numbers increased unprecedentedly. The Indian government steppedup allowed vaccination for all eligible adults and initiated several measures to reducethe impact of the second wave. This coupled with the support of equipment medicines andother essentials from the global community has helped India in its fight against the COVIDcrisis. We hope very soon we shall see a positive outcome.
FY 21 wasn't anything that any of us had planned nonethelessbusinesses and individuals around the world learnt to weather the storm and reimagine thefuture. Today I am proud of what your company has achieved and learnt during this trulyuncommon year. The resilience and the agility with which response was initiated tosafeguard employees and partners was praiseworthy. We ensured sanitisation and safetyprotocols regular health screening across all plant sites and work from home whereverpossible. A vaccination drive was conducted for employees and their families above 45years of age in phase 1 and we are now looking to vaccinate the remaining employees too.On the business front our focus on sustainability digitisation automation and creatinga process driven organization helped us tide through tough times. We also focused on costoptimisation growth the wellbeing of all stakeholders and creating an agile andinnovative organisational culture.
As the Chairman of the Board of Directors of GHCL let me assure youthat despite myriad challenges your company is focused on maintaining the growth momentumand delivering value. In FY 21 due to COVID 19 our sales for the year and PAT declined by13% and 24% respectively; partially attributable to the lockdown imposed during last weekof March 2020. Though top line and profits declined in the first half of FY21 we wereable to reverse this trend and achieved healthy growth and margin in the second half. Bythe fourth quarter plant utilization was back to pre-COVID levels. Better capacityutilisation supported by a positive demand scenario favourable recovery trends combinedwith operational excellence steered recovery in the second half of the year.
As an organisation we have left no stone unturned to ensure valuecreation for our stakeholders. While we have more work to do we are focused on drivingpositive change and our future growth strategy is based on various initiatives such asgreen energy technological upgradation long term sustainability environment friendlypractices corporate governance and talent management. We believe that these initiativesare integral for the long term growth of your organisation.
Your company is also focusing on several growth opportunities in bothits business segments to improve the bottom line. In inorganic chemicals we are pursuingproduct basket expansion debottlenecking backward integration capabilities increasingthe sodium bicarbonate capacity and greenfield expansion which once executed willposition your company as the largest domestic soda ash manufacturer. In the textilesbusiness our growth strategy is around modernization and expansion of spinning businessenlarging our green energy portfolio and creating a strong presence in the value addedyarn segment in both cotton and synthetic. In home textiles our focus will be on costoptimization and improved assets utilization. We have initiated our digital journey andenablers such as AI & IOT will enhance our capacity and capabilities in medium to longterm.
In March FY20 the Board of the company had approved the Scheme ofdemerger of its Inorganic Chemicals and Textiles businesses which is progressing as perplan.
I am proud to share that your company has been Certified as a"Great Place to Work" for the fifth year in a row. This is indeed a commendableachievement. GHCL's Chemical division was also recognised with the Gold Award at theNational Award for Manufacturing Competitiveness for the year 2019-20 by the InternationalResearch Institute for Manufacturing India.
Dear shareholders over the years we have been consistent in our payout and as a token of gratitude for your support this year too a dividend of INR 5.50 perequity share has been announced.
We are consistent and firm on the basic principles and strategies weuse to build this company from conducting our business responsibly to betterGovernance practices with sustainability and core values as our foundation. We shallcontinue to grow our business and contribute to India's growth story. We are happy toserve our customers develop our partners and uplift communities in and around our areasof business. I am moved by the challenges we have overcome and proud of our resolve toserve our stakeholders.
With this I would like to thank all our customers partnersshareholders and investors for their continued support partnership and invaluablecontribution in these difficult times.
Sanjay Dalmia Chairman