Scaling New Heights
K.K. Bangur has steered Graphite India through all the ups and downs and made the company reach new heights driven by high-end technology and caution
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Graphite India recorded a sterling and its highest ever performance during 2018-19 where its revenue from operations increased 126 per cent to Rs 6,737 crore against Rs 2,983 crore in the previous financial year. Profit before tax (PBT) recorded an increase of 208 per cent at Rs 4,281 crore as against Rs 1,389 crore in the previous year which also included investment income of Rs 102 crore as against Rs 52 crore in FY18. This performance the company attributed mainly to the realization of full potential of positive price movements witnessed during 2018 inspite of softening of demand-supply imbalance during the latter part of the year.
The global demand for graphite electrodes was strong owing to the demand revival in some of the steel producing nations with higher EAF capacities; and structural shift due to closure of significant steel capacities in highly polluting blast/ induction furnaces in China which are now being replaced by environment friendly electric arc furnaces. China has also closed down some of its archaic electrode manufacturing capacities, it said. The company’s graphite and carbon segment continued to be the main source of revenue and profit for Graphite India, accounting for about 98 per cent of the total revenue.
Kolkata-headquartered Graphite India is a pioneer in manufacturing graphite electrodes in India. The company, established in 1967 in collaboration with the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation of the US,. Along with graphite electrodes, it also manufactures carbon and graphite speciality products at six manufacturing facilities spread across India. The company has a wholly-owned subsidiary at Nuremberg in Germany, named Graphite COVA GmbH.
The company has been helmed by K. K. Bangur as Chairman since 1993. Bangur joined the company in the late 1980s and has been a part of its growth story since. The company has managed to grow from a small venture in the 1960s to one of the largest graphite electrode manufacturers in the world. Graphite India is today the third largest graphite electrode manufacturer in the world and the lowest cost producer.
Graphite India though, was able to keep its head above water even between 1998 and 2008, a decade during which the industry went through a financial crisis.
As a company, Graphite India has focused on keeping costs low, without compromising on quality. “We have come a long way and I have been fortunate to see the company transform over the last 30 years,” says Bangur. “The journey has been interesting, challenging at times, but rewarding overall. Challenging – from the point of view of penetrating into new markets, upgrading technology, cost control and managing the balance sheet during difficult periods. We were able to manage our balance sheet reasonably well and gave good returns to our shareholders even during difficult times,” says he.
“A good leader needs to be cautious and humble. It is a buyer’s market, and has always been one. A good leader should be committed to being competitive,” says Bangur.