Exide Energy Solutions to set up Li-ion battery cell manufacturing facility in Bengaluru

Source: Economic Times, 28 July 2022

Exide Industries on Wednesday said its subsidiary has executed a sales agreement in Bengaluru to set up a lithium ion battery cell manufacturing facility. Exide Energy Solutions Ltd NSE 2.85 % (EESL) has executed the lease-cum-sale agreement with Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) for procuring land parcel in Bengaluru, the company said in a regulatory filing.

The plant would be used to set up multi-gigawatt Li-ion battery cell manufacturing facility for the new-age electric mobility and stationary application businesses in India, it added.

Government targets 100% procurement by ministries, CPSEs through GeM portal by end of FY23

Source: Financial Express, 24 July 2022

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: The government has now set a target of procuring all of its goods and services through the public procurement portal Government e-Marketplace (GeM). It aims to make 100 per cent procurement through GeM by the end of the current financial year and 75 per cent by August 15, according to a statement by Commerce Ministry. 

Chairing a review meeting of GeM on Friday, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal “emphasized that Prime Minister has set a target of 75 per cent procurement to be made through GeM by the 15th of August and 100 per cent by the end of the current financial year,” the statement said. Over 50 central government ministries and 50 central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) were invited to share their feedback on buying from GeM which was launched in August 2016.

While the current share of the government’s procurement from GeM could not be ascertained but Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam in August last year noted that the portal tapped only 5 per cent of the total government purchases of around Rs 20 lakh crore a year even as it has helped save 10 per cent in cost — around Rs 10,000 crore in a cumulative procurement of Rs 1 lakh crore in five years. The secretary was speaking at the CII’s National Public Procurement Conclave.

Goyal further noted that procurement data generated on GeM will help the government in improving transparency and efficiency in public procurement. Moreover, the aggregation of demand via the procurement model through a single portal will also help in reducing the cost of procurement for the buyers. “With collective wisdom and collective efforts of all stakeholders, GeM can well become the largest marketplace for public procurement in the world,” he added.

The gross merchandise value (GMV) of GeM has jumped 178 per cent from Rs 38,280 crore in FY21 to Rs 1,06,760 crore in FY22. The portal is aiming to double its turnover to Rs 2 lakh crore in FY23. “This growth of Rs 1.06 lakh crore is 17 times more than the first year when GeM came into being and almost 55 per cent of the cumulative (turnover) in the previous financial (year). This shows excellent growth from MSMEs, PSUs, and states,” GeM Chief Executive Officer Prashant Kumar Singh had said at MSME Business Conclave organised by Financial Express Digital in June this year.

GeM has around 61,440 government buyer organizations and about 47.99 Lakh sellers and service providers with a listing of more than 41.44 lakh products and 1.9 lakh services.

Industrial, warehousing leasing up 7pc in Jan-June across 5 cities: Report

Source: Financial Express, 18 July 2022

Leasing of industrial and warehousing spaces across five cities rose 7 per cent to 10.8 million square feet in January-June period on better demand, according to Colliers India.

The gross leasing or absorption stood at 10.1 million square feet in the first six months last year in five major cities namely Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Pune.

Leasing increased in Mumbai and Pune but fell in Bengaluru and Chennai. Absorption of industrial and warehousing space remained flat at 3 million square feet in Delhi-NCR. The gross absorption refers to the actual leasing and does not include renewals.

“About 55 per cent of the gross absorption was led by third-party logistics players, followed by the engineering and automobile sectors with a share of 12 per cent each,” Colliers India said in a statement.

As per the data, Bengaluru saw 29 per cent decline in leasing activities to 1.4 million square feet during January-June 2022 from 2 million square feet in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Leasing in Chennai fell 16 per cent to 1.7 million square feet from 2 million square feet.

However, Mumbai saw three-fold jump in leasing to 2.1 million square feet from 0.7 million square feet.

Absorption of spaces in Pune grew 7 per cent to 2.6 million square feet in January-June 2022 from 2.4 million square feet in the year-ago period.

Out of the total leasing in the first half of this year, Delhi-NCR accounted for maximum 28 per cent share, followed by Pune with 24 per cent share in demand.

“Third-Party Logistics players continue to dominate demand in the first half of this year and the trend is expected to continue in the next few quarters as well,” said Shyam Arumugam, Managing Director, Industrial and Logistics Services, Colliers India.

He said enquiries for warehousing spaces have increased in Tier II cities as key players are strengthening their last-mile delivery supply chain to be proximate to customers.

On supply, Colliers India said that it fell 24 per cent to 11.8 million square feet in January-June 2022 from 15.6 million square feet in the year-ago period.

In Bengaluru, supply rose by 73 per cent to 1.2 million square feet from 0.7 million square feet.

Chennai saw 11 per cent rise in supply to 2.2 million square feet from 2 million square feet.

Supply in Pune went up 42 per cent to 1.5 million square feet from 1.1 million square feet. However, supply in Delhi-NCR declined 47 per cent to 5.1 million square feet from 9.5 million square feet.

Mumbai witnessed 21 per cent fall in supply to 1.8 million square feet in January-June 2022 from 2.3 million square feet in the year-ago period.

Colliers India mentioned that the industrial & warehousing hubs are typically located outside the city limits. However, these are considered as a part of the defined major cities for analysis.

The key hubs are Hoskote and Bommasandra in Bengaluru; Thamaraipakkam, Kotarabakkam, Polivakkam in Chennai; Tauru Road, Pataudi Road, Greater Noida in Delhi-NCR; Bhiwandi in Mumbai; and Chakan, Talegaon and Ranjangaon in Pune.

In conversation with Abhijit Roy, MD & CEO of Berger Paints: Understanding the market and delivering quality products

Source: Economic Times, 15 July 2022

With a versatile product portfolio, a long list of happy clientele, and an impressive growth trajectory, Berger Paints has been thriving in the Indian market for almost a century now. From its humble beginnings back in the 1920s to being India’s 2nd largest paint company – the journey has been full of ups and downs. In the last 25 years, under the leadership of Abhijit Roy, Berger Paints has had an astounding growth rate of 2,500x in market capitalization and an impressive growth in EBIDTA. Roy, the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Berger Paints for the past decade, believes that Berger Paints has the right temperament to outperform its peers. In an exclusive interview with ET Spotlight, Abhijit Roy talked about the future of Berger Paints, key growth drivers, pillars that have fueled this growth, some successful innovations and a lot more. Excerpts below:

Q. Berger Paints has seen great success under your leadership in the last decade. What are the three key pillars that have fueled this growth?
Abhijit Roy: I would say that the fuel for Berger’s growth has been self-belief, passion and innovation. As an organization, we had the conviction that we were meant to achieve great things. Q. Berger Paints has seen great success under your leadership in the last decade. What are the three key pillars that have fueled this growth?
Abhijit Roy: I would say that the fuel for Berger’s growth has been self-belief, passion and innovation. As an organization, we had the conviction that we were meant to achieve great things. We constantly prioritized people, nurtured their talent, identified people with the drive to excel and channelled their passion. As a result, we were successful in creating a great workplace where a team of passionate people, who were not afraid to experiment, came together to realize that vision.

Q. How does it feel to steer one of India’s leading consumer goods companies? What have been the growth drivers?
Abhijit Roy: It has been a singular privilege for me to work with an organization such as Berger Paints and to lead a team of such dedicated and passionate individuals. Our journey together has led the company to such heights which has made it more fulfilling. Our greatest focus during this time has been on listening to our customers and driving meaningful innovation that adds value to their lives. Creating profitable and sustainable growth for the company has been our objective. To that end, we have invested in building people, research, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing capabilities. All of these coming together in a vibrantly growing economy has catapulted our growth.

On completing 25 years with Berger Paints India, Abhijit Roy – MD & CEO, talked about the inspirational success story:

Q. Seeing how the brand has successfully navigated the highs and lows, what can we expect from Berger Paints in the next decade?
Abhijit Roy: Berger Paints has its eyes set firmly on becoming one of the world’s top-10 paints and coatings companies in the coming decade and within the top 5 in decorative coatings. We are in the midst of a process that will see us becoming more technology-led and data-driven. These changes have already unlocked a lot of efficiencies and the task is ongoing. You will see us keeping the customer at the center of a relentless drive towards achieving this growth objective.

Q. With 2500X growth in Market cap and 14% CAGR, what would you define as the key factors driving this growth?
Abhijit Roy: We would attribute this to a sustained and laser focus on creating a well-managed and financially disciplined organization built for rapid and repeated market-friendly innovation. Our best work coincided with a very conducive Indian economy that provided the ideal ramp for acceleration in the last decade.

Q. In your 25 years at Berger Paints, there have been many innovations. Could you elaborate on the success of one of them that is the closest to you?
Abhijit Roy: Strictly speaking, it is tough to choose between the many successful innovations that we as a team managed to bring to fruition. However, Color Bank, the tinting machine system, which was my first assignment for Berger and for which I was the product manager, would probably be the closest to me because of the magnitude of the task given the prevalent condition of the industry. The innovative tinting machine, which is now a ubiquitous feature of all paint shops, transformed Berger into a key player in the high-value and profitable emulsions segment. The success of Color Bank was sweeter because, as a new-to-market innovation, it had many naysayers, including the then industry leaders, who followed in our footsteps.

Q. With an upward trend of start-ups entering every sector, how does Berger Paints aim to stay young?
Abhijit Roy: As an organization, Berger Paints is nearly 100 years old in India, but in spirit, we are quite contemporary. We have many employees who have been with the company for decades; on the other hand, our annual intake of young talent is also quite high. We have a healthy contribution from business lines that are digital-first in nature and driven by young team members who could walk into any of the storied startups that adorn the Indian market. Berger is also continuously looking for and evaluating new economic opportunities synergistic with our core business.

Q. What is your mantra for keeping yourself focused on the goal?
Abhijit Roy: Keep things simple. Plan well. Trust your team. Execute better.

Having a wide range of products catering to various clients, Berger Paints has got what it takes to thrive in this competitive market. Click here to know more about Berger Paints and if you wish to be updated on all their latest happenings, do follow them on social media here: Facebook , Twitter , Instagram and LinkedIn .

Govt amends SEZ norms to help companies opt for flexible work options

Source: Economic Times, 18 July 2022

The government has amended the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Rules, 2006 to accommodate the work-from-home model of employment, a move expected to change the demand for leasing of space at information technology parks.

This is also expected to help companies attract and retain talent with flexible work-from-home and hybrid work options.

As per the notification issued by the commerce and industry ministry, a unit operating in the SEZ may permit its employees, including contractual staff, to work from home or from any place outside the SEZ.

This proposal for working from home will cover a maximum of 50% of the total employees, including contractual employees, of the unit. The development commissioner may approve a higher number of employees to work from home for any bona fide reason to be recorded in writing.

“The guidelines are welcome as there were different rules issued by each development commissioner. However, in the new world of hybrid working, it remains to be seen whether the 50% threshold will be achievable,” said Abhishek Goenka, partner of consultancy firm Aeka Advisors India. “Further, clarity is needed on the manner in which the 50% test is to be applied, i.e., on the stated capacity of the SEZ unit or the total strength of the company.”

Employees who are covered under this notification include employees of the IT and IT-enabled services SEZ units, employees that are temporarily incapacitated, employees who are travelling; and employees who are working offsite.

“It will allow companies to onboard new talent in the office environment while extending the work-from-home policy for existing talent. This is a welcome move for corporations as we are in the midst of a gradual phase of return to work, especially in the IT and ITeS sector,” said Karan Singh Sodi, regional managing director, JLL India. “The last two years have seen pressure on their attrition rates as well as growth in the business, thereby creating new jobs in the IT and ITeS sector.”

The units established in SEZ are granted certain incentives, including tax benefits for goods and services exported by them, but with stringent controls in place. These conditions include specific permission to move assets outside the SEZ premises and allowing employees to work from home.

While various SEZs had allowed suo-moto permission for work from home in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, in March, however, they asked most of them to resume work from the office.

The insertion of Rule 43A in the SEZ Rules provides companies the flexibility to allow a maximum of 50% of their employees to work from home, along with prior permission to temporarily remove goods such as laptops, computers, electronic equipment, etc., from the SEZ unit to a domestic tariff area without payment of duty or integrated goods and services tax (IGST).

As per the new provisions, a company’s unit operating in the SEZ is expected to ensure export revenue of the resultant products or services are accounted for by the unit to which the employee is tagged.

The unit whose employees are working from home or from any place outside the SEZ on the date of commencement of the SEZ (third amendment) Rules, 2022, is expected to submit its proposal for permission within 90 days from the date of such commencement.

The guidelines state that the work to be performed by the employees permitted to work from home under this rule will be as for the services approved for the unit, and the work is related to a project of the unit.

The unit operating in the SEZ is expected to submit its proposal for work from home for its employees to the development commissioner through email or physical application. This application needs to contain the terms and conditions of working from home, including the date from which the permission for the same will be utilised and details of the employees to be covered by such permission.

The development commissioner, on receipt of such a proposal with compliance, can grant permission to the proposal of the unit, which will be valid for a period of one year from the date of the permission. The authority can grant an extension for this permission, not exceeding one year at a time.

The application for the extension needs to be submitted at least 15 days in advance to the development commissioner, except in the case of employees who are temporarily incapacitated or traveling.

Necessary info on QR code compulsory on packaging of electronic goods

Source: Economic Times, 15 July 2022

New Delhi: The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on Thursday issued new rules for packaging of electronic goods making the QR code compulsory on the packaging with relevant information for products manufactured on or July 15 onwards, i.e. Friday.

If not mentioned as QR code, the information should be part of the packaging, said the rules called the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) (Second Amendment) Rules, 2022, notified by the ministry. These shall come into force right away.

Citing relevant clauses and sections, the ministry said,
“Provided that in the case of an electronic product which is manufactured or packed or imported after July 15, the package of such product shall, for a period of one year from such date, declare the name of the manufacturer or packer or importer, as the case may be, on the package itself and such declaration shall also inform the consumers to scan the QR code for the address and other related information.”

In case such information is declared through the QR Code and not declared on the package itself, the package of such product shall, for a period of one year from such date, inform the consumers to scan the QR code for the common or generic name of the commodity and where such package contains more than one product, then for the name and number or quantity of each product.

Similar provisions have been mentioned for size and dimension of the commodity, and for declaring the telephone number and e-mail address on the package itself.

Furlenco to offer direct retailing of furniture

Source: Financial Express, 13 July 2022

Furniture subscription company Furlenco is planning to launch direct retailing of home furniture and other decor products on its platform as it looks to shore up revenue to be profitable by FY24, a top executive of the firm said in an interview.

Founded in 2011 by Ajith Karimpana, Furlenco offers furniture on monthly and annual rental packages to consumers for their living room furniture, beds, dining tables, study solutions, workstations, and lounges among others. The start-up also offers added services for delivery, assembly, and set-up. It offers two-wheelers, gadgets, and appliances like microwave ovens, LED televisions, laptops, and washing machines on a subscription model.

“As a (rental) company, we have been pushing out newly manufactured furniture and recovering it back from users after the end of the subscription period. We then refurbish this and circulate it back to new users as a circular model. We have understood that some of our more mature users, at a point in time in their life prefer to own their furniture; hence we are now willing to directly retail our furniture products to those customer sets,” said Karimpana in an interaction with FE.

However, Furlenco’s direct retailing philosophy is built around a sustainable circular economy model, where buyers can sell back their furniture to the platform at any point in time either for an upgrade or a cashback in form of user credits.

“Circularity and sustainability of furniture is the core emphasis of the Furlenco model. We realise that when users want access to furniture they plan their expenses depending on the phase of their life. Most bachelors when they start with new jobs, prefer to rent out furniture from us, but users who have a family with children prefer to own their furniture, which we will now be catering to,” added Karimpana

Since its launch in 2011, Furlenco mostly focused on home furniture products which it makes a majority of its revenue from. In FY23, Furlenco claims to be trailing an annual revenue run rate (ARR) of around Rs 200 crore, which has doubled since FY22, according to Karimpana.

To support its expansion strategy into direct retailing, Furlenco aims to add more than 500 new products and another 250 new furniture designs to its arsenal over the next 12 months. The platform also offers a standalone annual subscription model named ‘UNLMTD’ which is specially tailored for families.

With UNLMTD customers can move away from staggered purchases and choose to subscribe to whatever they want at a single fixed price. UNLMTD currently offers two annual subscription plans —Premium and Lite. The Premium Rs 4,999 per month plan allows users to subscribe to more than 15 products and the Lite package priced at Rs 3,999 per month is meant for nine products.

With its existing subscription products alone Furlenco is already netting a positive cash flow of Rs 5 crore per month, according to Karimpana.

“We are generating `5 crore in net cash from operations per month which translates to around `60 crore in annualised cash flow from operations, but we are not profitable yet on the net level. We plan to hit that milestone by the end of the next financial year with a `500 crore revenue run rate target by FY23-24 which we believe will take us to full financial year profitability,” Karimpana added.

To date, Furlecon’s parent company House of Kieraya has raised close to $228 million in equity and debt funding from prominent investors like Zinnia Global Fund, Lightbox Ventures, CE-Ventures, and angel investor Saket Burman and others. Last year, the House of Kieraya brand raised $140 million in a round making it one of the few start-ups to raise a considerable round in the furniture subscription space. A good chunk of the company’s funding comes from working capital loans usually through the way of venture debt, terms loans, NCDs, and revenue-based financing as well.

“At a Rs 200 crore revenue run rate, we are generating about 16-17 crore revenue per month in terms of subscription revenue from customers. We have a history of this transaction for the past 5-7 years, and lenders feel that our financial books are strong enough to provide us with various forms of working capital loans on assets and receivables. As a company, we focus on being non-dilutive, because we knew that in the larger sense, debt is the best method to fund our business,” Karimpana said.

Bharat Forge, subsidiary complete acquisition of JS Autocast

Source: Economic Times, 01 July 2022

Pune-based auto parts maker Bharat Forge Ltd on Friday said it along with subsidiary BF Industrial Solutions has successfully completed the acquisition of Coimbatore-based JS Autocast Foundry India Private Limited.

The deal to acquire JS Autocast, which supplies critical machined ductile castings for wind, hydraulic, off-highways and automotive applications, was announced in February.

“Bharat Forge Limited along with its subsidiary, BF Industrial Solutions Limited has successfully completed the previously announced acquisition of JS Autocast Foundry India Private Limited. The Enterprise Value of the transaction is Rs 489.63 crores,” the company said in a release.

“This acquisition significantly enhances our capabilities and addressable market segments both domestically and in export markets, especially in niche industrial segments and also brings with it significant synergies that particularly strengthen Bharat Forge’s positioning as a preferred ‘Industrial Solutions’ provider,” it said.

JSA logged 59.5 per cent year-on-year growth in revenue at Rs 416.87 crore despite a challenging and volatile environment, the release said.

Recently, JSA has been granted environmental clearance to expand its existing foundry operations at SIPCOT (State Industrial Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu) from 21,768 tonnes per annum to 72,000 tonnes per annum, it stated.

This coupled with 28,800 TPA foundry capacity at Coimbatore, provides a significant growth platform for the company, Bharat Forge said, adding, JSA will focus on enhancing its product portfolio from current small castings to address opportunities in medium sized castings for both renewable and other industrial applications.

In the next three years, JSA will start manufacturing ‘green castings’ utilising 100 per cent renewable energy and raw material which is predominantly recycled scrap, it added.

India wants to become a chip maker from a chip taker: PM

Source: Financial Express, 05 July 2022

As India is fast converting from ‘chip taker to chip maker’, the electronics manufacturing sector is set to cross $300 billion in the next three to four years — a four-fold increase from around $75 billion.

Inaugurating the Digital India Week 2022 in Gandhinagar, with the theme ‘Catalyzing New India’s Techade’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Monday that huge investments are being made to increase production of semiconductors in India. With the Central government pushing ‘Digital India’ initiatives, the nation would reap the benefit of Industrial Revolution 4.0, he said.

“India became a victim of the third industrial revolution. However, the same nation is showing direction to the world in the process of the fourth industrial revolution. Time will move on, if we don’t adopt the new technology. Today India has a 40% share in digital financial transactions across the world. Every minute 130,000 Unified Payment Interface (UPI) transactions are happening in India. By the time I complete the full form of UPI, already 7,000 transactions across the country would have taken place,” said Modi.

He said India has shown the world how correct use of technology can change the life of people. Post the ‘Digital India’ movement, ‘ease of living’ and ‘ease of doing business’ in India have further strengthened, he said, adding digitisation of services has brought transparency for the poor and the middle class, eliminating middle-men and corruption.

“Through direct bank transfer (DBT), the government deposited Rs 23 trillion directly to the bank accounts of beneficiaries. Due to technology, Rs 2.23 trillion was saved and the government ensured free ration to more than 800 million people during the peak pandemic period. Just because of technology, India could successfully execute targeted and efficient Covid vaccination and relief programmes,” he said.

Without naming the Opposition Congress party, he said that just eight years ago people used to stand in long queues for paying bills, getting ration, admission in school, results and getting certificates, at banks to get their own money, railway reservations, even for birth and death certificates. “Within a decade, we could change all these, most of these services are now available at a single click,” he added.

During the inauguration ceremony, the PM also launched the ‘Digital India Bhashini’ that will enable Indians an easy access to the internet and digital services in vernacular languages, along with ‘Digital India GENESIS’ (Gen-next Support for Innovative Startups), a national deep-tech startup platform. He dedicated ‘MyScheme’ to the citizens, which will provide access to government schemes at a single place.

Volvo Group launches green casting developed in India

Source: Economic Times, 24 June 2022

New Delhi: Swedish automotive major Volvo Group on Thursday announced the launch of its first ‘green casting’ developed and sourced from India that will be used for its engines globally. The green castings from India will include bearing caps and bearing housing for select Volvo engines, and this is the first step, the group said in a statement.

It further said these castings will be produced by Brakes India, utilising scrap, alloys, and raw materials that are 100 per cent radioactive elements free. It involves recycling 100 per cent metallic scrap generated by other industries to manufacture a usable product.

The plant will operate on 100 per cent green power from solar and wind energy, it added.

“When fully adopted, the potential reduction in CO2 per year due to green castings would amount to 0.86 million tons for Volvo and 210 million tons for the industry (assuming the industry adopts this approach),” the group said.

This is a significant step as India is a key source for Volvo Group’s global casting requirements, and also the country has a significant share of the global casting demand, it added.

Commenting on the development, Volvo Group India President and Managing Director Kamal Bali said, “India is a home base for the Group and we not only ‘Make in India’, but also design, process, sell and source from India to the world”.

In line with the group’s global sustainability targets and ambitions, he said, “Our aim is to create an environment that is safe and sustainable for future generations – while being immersed in advanced technology that goes into making world-leading commercial vehicles. Green Casting has the potential to kick-start a revolution in the casting manufacturing process for a sustainable future”.

Commercial Production of these green castings will start this month, the statement said.