Kazutoshi Oyama, executive director (Sales and Marketing), Bridgestone India, speaks to Kiran Bajad on expanding manufacturing capacity in India, market trends and the growth game-plan.
Earlier this month, Bridgestone committed a $ 304.3 million investment to increase production and expand operations in India? What is the game-plan?
India’s automobile sector is one of the world’s fastest and largest growing markets. The Indian automotive industry will see an upward trend in production and an increase in overall vehicle population in the next five years. This, supported by the growth in the Indian economy, makes India a significant market for the Bridgestone Group.
Bridgestone entered India more than 20 years ago, established two plants and is today one of the leading tyre companies in both the OEM and replacement segments. We are aggressively targeting growth as seen in our recent announcement of our factory expansion with an investment of $ 304.3 million at both plant locations in Pune and Indore.
Our plant expansion, backed by our brand ambassador announcement, is a testimony of our aggressive business plans in India which will help us achieve the No. 1 position which is also in alignment with our global targets.
Over how many years is this new investment spread out?
The expansion will happen in multiple phases in the next five years, starting this year. It will include advanced manufacturing technology which will enable the expansion of the size production mix capability in both plants, providing flexibility in responding to market requirements.
We have realised demand for our products has increased and there is a need to expand plant capacity. Bridgestone will continue to optimise its production and supply systems to respond to rapidly changing Indian market trends and provide customers with high-quality products in a timely manner.
How did Bridgestone India fare in FY2017?
Fiscal year 2016-17 was tremendous for Bridgestone India as we witnessed steady growth as planned. We also introduced some vital products like our flagship tyres Potenza S001 and Turanza T001 along with the launch of our motorcycle tyre, Neurun.
Last year, our key launch was Firestone, the legendary American tyre brand, which is targeted at customers who seek value through uncompromising quality products. This year will be another excellent year for Bridgestone in all tyre categories especially with the introduction of fuel-efficient products.
The market continues to be very dynamic and challenging. However, the objective is to achieve steady growth by finding innovative solutions and overcoming challenges as a team. We will aim to achieve more sales than the market growth.
What are your plans to expand the dealer network in India?
Bridgestone India currently has a dealer network of around 6,000 across 200 cities in India. We will continue to expand our network significantly to provide quality products and services even to the remote parts of the country. We are also expanding our family channel stores – Select, Super Select, Bridgestone Fleet Points and Bridgestone Fleet Point Mobile – which offer a unique experience of sophistication, progressiveness and enhanced customer experience.
What are the current trends in the Indian tyre market and what are driving them?
India has always been an important market for Bridgestone and we have created a niche with our diversified product range and services. The Indian market is fast growing and hence we are excited about Bridgestone’s growth opportunities in India. The country was hit by demonisation and GST which, in the short term, affected the Indian economy and the tyre industry.
In the long term, we see huge growth opportunities with India projected to produce over five million cars by 2020, supported with the forecasted increase in the buying potential of households leading to increased vehicle production. The replacement and OE market is improving and we anticipate overall improvement in the industry. High growth in GDP is projected which would benefit the automobile and ancillary industries. Also, acceleration in automobile sales and demand in the replacement market will help in improving the challenging scenario of the tyre industry.
India currently has all the key global tyre brands. How does Bridgestone plan to distinguish itself from the others?
Bridgestone India, with its product range and expansive dealer network, already has a niche for the brand in India, Our next step is to grow strategically while creating our own space along with the competition. Like any other market, there are competitors and we welcome healthy competition. Our objective is to provide suitable products with adequate R&D and marketing support. We will continue to expand our channel network and cover the remotest corners of the country for our PSR and TBR segments and provide our customers quality products in a timely manner. We will aim to achieve more sales than the market growth.