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BW Businessworld

He Took All The Notes A Pitch Higher

Symphony’s financial parameters, like its revenue and market capitalisation, have exploded since 2009

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Symphony Limited is a manufacturer of branded air-coolers that has been in the market since 1988. It has not only grown in the home market, but also spread its wings overseas to the United States and Mexico. Over the last eight years, the company’s revenue and market capitalisation grown exponentially.

Between the 2008-09 and the 2016-17 financial years, Symphony’s revenue shot up from Rs 126 crore to Rs 811 crore, with significant increases in both its profit before tax (PBT) and profit after tax (PAT). The company’s market capitalisation exploded from Rs 38 crore to Rs 11,000 crore during the period. BW Businessworld honours the man in the CFO’s chair during the spell. Bhadresh Mehta joined Symphony Limited in December 2009 and has been its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Senior Vice President since.

How he sustained wealth creation
Mehta’s focus was not only on products and performances, innovation, quality and after-sales service, but also corporate governance, transparency, adherence to standards and investor awareness. He created an efficient corporate affairs team, improved systems and processes and created well-documented system manuals.

Asked how he created more wealth for Symphony Limited, Mehta says, “By improving product margins and keeping the cost under control, by playing a proactive role in vital corporate decisions, by maintaining complete financial control over all payments at HO (head office) and foreign subsidiaries, by focusing on growth drivers of  the company”.

He says he continues to “innovate and bring new models to keep the competition bar in control almost every year”. Mehta believes he has helped shore up Symphony’s bottomline by improving services for customers and “by reducing turnaround time and improving the returns on treasury investments which is increasing year after year”.

Mehta has assisted the company’s CEO with mergers and acquisitions. Two successful foreign acquisitions have expanded Symphony’s global reach through different verticals and contributed to its growth. Mehta counts “establishing integrated IT systems, one at HO, second at Mexico subsidiary where the same ERP was implemented successfully in 2016-17” as a key change he helped bring about in Symphony.

He had SAP implemented at the head office of  the Ahmedabad-based compny, taking into consideration “next generation requirements and evolving a system driven organisation with least possible management involvement”. Mehta made lots of improvements in the use of Information Technology (IT) and efficient MIS systems for better control and planned business decisions.

The speed-breakers on his path
Mehta’s tenure as CFO was not bereft of challenges. In the midst of the global financial crisis that reigned in 2008, he had to acquire a sick company on the verge of closure in distant Mexico, where the majority speak Spanish. His job entailed meandering his way through Mexico’s legal framework, culture and language to procure funding and manage working capital. He also had to ensure reductions and control over costs and overheads. He had to improve  efficiency and do tax planning. He had to coordinate with local teams, without deploying people there from the head office. Mehta went through a similar drill when acquiring a company in China.

Some of Mehta’s decisions particularly helped his organisation excel, like acquisition of a subsidiary in China, strengthening the in-house internal audit department, and bringing in one of the big four as statutory auditors (by rotation). Mehta was also responsible for system improvement, tax planning, financial management and control of subsidiaries, team building, motivation and leadership.