After the split of DCM empire in 1990, Ajay, Vikram and Ajit Shriram have steered DCM Shriram Consolidated Ltd or DSCL to make it a Rs 3,500 -crore empire with a diversified business portfolio ranging from agri-products to rural retail and power. Ajay S Shriram, chairman & senior MD and Vikram S Shriram, vice-chairman & MD spell out the company’s growth strategy and succession plan in an interview with FE’s Saikat Neogi. Excerpts:
What is the business outlook after the worst fears about economic downturn are behind us?
Ajay Shriram: We are in five different kind of business—seeds, sugar, fertilisers, rural retail and window solutions. In today’s market it is very important to see how we can combine our products and services in terms of technical know how, and knowledge. For example, we are a one-stop department store in rural India where one can get agricultural products, FMCG products, and white goods. This year we have made up our mind to consolidate this business.
Vikram Shriram: Our focus has been on rural India because of the government’s thrust and also because agriculture income is going up. Down the road, rural India is a good market place and our entry in this market was driven by our strong focus on the agriculture sector. So, the focus in each of the businesses is not necessarily to be number one in capacity, but in cost of production. In fact, we are one of the lowest cost producers because of scale and backward integration.
Why are you planning to hive off your rural retail business?
AS: Yes, we are hiving off Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar, which has around 300 stores, as a separate company. We haven’t still got to the execution stage and are waiting for the right time to do it. If we get value add like improving our supply chain, logistics etc, then it would be a business decision taken in a professional manner.
VS: In the long run we are looking at getting money from outside. Now, whether it comes from a domestic source, or a foreign source, is immaterial. We are open to both and it depends on what they bring to the table.
What does professionalism mean to you in a family-run business?
AS: I think a professional company— whether family-owned or not — is one that can compete in a competitive market. How the company does it depends upon the family strategy. Hiring