An unprecedented year for everyone FY 2020-21 nevertheless demonstrated KEI'sresiliency and resolve. Throughout this tough period our unflinching focus has beentowards safeguarding our people ensuring no major disruption to our customers andconsumers supporting our communities and retaining our financial strength. It was also ayear of transformation for KEI as we set out to aggressively grow our Retail segment whilegradually reducing the contribution of EPC projects to our overall sales mix. We believethat this strategic shift will enable us to deliver better value in the years ahead.
The fiscal year commenced amidst the nationwide lockdown resulting in all our plantsbeing shut down for almost an entire month our employees transitioning to a remoteworking environment dealers not being operational and supply chain disruption. As theyear progressed the slowdown in economic activities with infrastructure projects facingdelays due to shortage of workforce localized restrictions and widespread uncertainty hada significant bearing on the demand for wires and cables.
At KEI we responded with agility to deliver a commendable performance against thisexceptionally challenging backdrop. Our net sales for FY 2020-21 stood at Rs.4181 Croreas against
Rs.4884 Crore in the previous year. This decline in net sales was largely due to thelockdown and business restrictions in the first quarter and the execution of one largeexport order in the previous year. Our EPC sales for the full year was also lower whichis as per the management strategy to reduce our dependence on the EPC business andrestrict its turnover.
Our strong focus on optimizing our costs enabled us to improve our EBITDA margin to11.49% as against 10.49% in the previous year. Profit after tax stood at Rs.273 Crore asagainst Rs.255 Crore in the previous year. We are also pleased to report that our net debt(including acceptances) has been reduced by Rs.514 Crore in the year under review whichhas helped to reduce our finance cost. The retention money from EPC debtors is partlyexpected to be released during FY 2021-22 which will provide us with sufficient cashflows to meet our working capital and growth requirements. Further our Company's creditrating was upgraded to Ratings AA- for long-term bank facilities and A1+ for short-termbank facilities. The revised outlook along with our strong liquidity profile will enableus to secure funds at competitive costs.
As mentioned previously our Retail segment faced an exceptionally challenging firstquarter during which sales declined by nearly 49% from the corresponding period in theprevious year. However with the easing of restrictions and unlocking of the economyretail sales made a strong sequential revival to almost erase the adverse impact of thefirst quarter. For the full year sales through the dealer / distribution market wasalmost at par with last year. More importantly the contribution of our Retail segment tooverall sales mix now stands at 34% as against 29% in the previous year. This is in linewith our focused strategy as the Retail business offers better margins and has lowerworking capital requirements.
Going forward our target is to generate 40-50% of our overall sales from the Retailsegment in the medium term. To provide a thrust to the Retail segment we have beenstrengthening our manpower in various sales branches at different levels all over India.We have also hired a leading consultant for helping us formulate the strategies toincrease our sales through our distribution network. We remain focused on growing ourdealer network deepening our engagement with our channel partners and strengthening ourbrand visibility through increased investments. Plans to foray into the FMEG sector arealso being carefully evaluated to boost our retail sales.
Our Institutional segment continued to deliver a steady performance with our strongpre-qualification credentials enabling us to tap the growing opportunities across multiplesectors. Our expertise and capability are best demonstrated by the fact that we are amongthe select few manufacturers globally for EHV 400kV cables which are being used forunderground power transmission lines. Our market-leading position and the expandedcustomer relationships that we have built in this segment make us look to the future withconfidence especially as several of these sectors will be strong growth drivers poweredby the government's focus on infrastructure and building a self-reliant nation.
As a strategic decision we are reducing our stake in the EPC business due to theelongated working capital cycle slow recovery of payments and low margin profile. We areconfident that our shift from EPC will be more than compensated by our Retail segment inthe coming years as we use the freed-up resources to drive the latter's growth. While wewill still pursue EPC projects when it satisfies our project selection criteria we willlimit its contribution to overall sales at 10-15% a clear benefit for our shareholders aswell as for KEI. During the year under review EPC contribution reduced from 15.64% to11.15% which has helped to reduce our working capital requirement.
For our Export segment we delivered a resilient performance with sales being largelyat par with FY 2019-20 after excluding the exceptionally large order that was executedduring that year. In a pandemic-hit year our ability to grow our international businesswas constrained as travel restrictions limited our business development activities.However as conditions start normalizing we will pursue our customer engagements withgreater intensity to regain our growth momentum. We are actively looking at developing newexport markets while deepening our presence in existing geographies.
To support our growth ambition we will continue to invest in increasing our capacity.In the previous years we had augmented our housing wires capacity with the setting of anew facility. We are now looking at investing around Rs.600-700 Crore from internalaccruals for growing our capacities for LT HT and EHV cables. The capex will beundertaken over five years. Meanwhile the Company has sufficient capacity to cater to themarket demand over the next years by when new production lines will also be available.
I am enormously proud of how adaptive and resilient our employees were in the face of aglobal pandemic. I would like to thank every one of our employees for their hard workduring this challenging time. With the health and safety of our people as our foremostpriority we quickly transitioned to work-from-home model for employees whose role enabledthem to work remotely. Regular sanitization at workplace free distribution of maskstie-ups with hospitals for COVID-19 testing hospitalization and other emergencyrequirements and arranging oxygen concentrators were among the other measures taken forthe safety and well-being of our people. We are pleased to share that we have rolled outvaccination drives across all our locations for our employees and their families. With thepandemic still raging on we continue to strictly adhere to all COVID-19 appropriateprotocols at all our sites.
Heading into FY 2021-22 the severe second wave of COVID-19 in India resulted in arenewed lockdown of the economy. While the nation was hit hard with the huge loss oflives the situation is now under control and lockdowns have been eased with theGovernment's focus on accelerating vaccine rollout strengthening of healthcareinfrastructure and heightened public awareness on adopting health and safety measures. Theimproved operating environment combined with pent-up demand should boost the market growthfor wires and cables.
Projects in areas of road and highways tunnels railways metro rail powertransmission and distribution airports solar power and nuclear power among others arebeing awarded to spur economic growth. Further the Government has extended its Rs.111Lakh Crore (USD 1.5 trillion) National Infrastructure Pipeline which is an umbrellaprogram integrating multi-sector infrastructural projects to cover more projects by 2025.We are also witnessing capacity expansion and upgradation in various state-owned oilrefineries. The Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme announced by the Government willencourage private players to enhance their domestic manufacturing capabilities. Smart cityprojects are underway while the expected pick-up in demand for real estate will aid therecovery of the construction sector.
All these factors point towards substantial growth for the wires and cables industryand we believe well-organized companies with good working capital management will beable to extract better value. At KEI we have a strong cash flow and balance sheet andsubstantial liquidity; this combined with our proven manufacturing and distributioncapabilities positions us to be opportunistic in strategically reinvesting capitalizingon market trends and expanding our business.
I would like to thank all of our stakeholders including customers bankers financialinstitutions Central and State government bodies channel partners business associatessuppliers and employees community and to you our shareholders for the continued trustand support in a difficult year. The Board is confident that while the pandemic hascreated near-term challenges the business is fundamentally strong to deliver better valuein the years ahead. Wishing all of you the best in these challenging times. Stay safestay well.