Launching UltraTech Cement, the new name of L&T Cement, in Hyderabad on Wednesday, OP Puranmalka, executive president and chief marketing officer of UltraTech Cement Limited, Aditya Birla Group, said that nothing has changed except the name. "What was earlier L&T Cement now becomes UltraTech Cement. The quality, the technology, the plants and the people remain unmatchable," he said.
Puranmalka said that UltraTech Cement will continue to be manufactured in the state-of-the-art plants at Kovaya and Jaffarabad in Gujarat, Awarpur in Maharashtra, Hirmi in Chattisgarh and Tadipatri in Andhra Pradesh. They will continue to be supported by the grinding units at Durgapur, Jharsaguda, Aarkonam, Magadalla and Ratnagiri, and the packing terminals at Mangalore, Mumbai and Sri Lanka. "These facilities will be managed by the same team of technocrats and the same team in the market will provide the same level of customer care," he said.
Stating that cement was clearly a focus area for the group, Puranmalka said that the acquisition of UltraTech signalled its commitment to take this business further. "UltraTech’s plants and markets complement those of Aditya Birla’s Grasim. UltraTech’s distribution network is also very well spread out in the country with over 5,500 stockists and 30,000 retailers," he added.
According to him, between UltraTech and Grasim, the Aditya Birla Group’s cement capacity is close to 31Mta of which 17Mt comes from UltraTech. "This makes the Aditya Birla Group the eighth largest cement player in the world. We plan to increase our capacity by 2.5Mt. With this, the combined capacity of Birla Group, including Grasim, will increase to 33.5Mt from the present 31Mt," Puranmalka added. At present, Aditya Birla’s share in the Andhra Pradesh cement market is around 20 per cent, he said.
The group now has 11 composite plants, seven split grinding units, four bulk terminals (inclusive of one in Sri Lanka), and eight ready mix concrete plants. This accords the group a strong national presence in the cement sector, with a leadership position in several states, Puranmalka said. Giving an overview of the cement sector, Puranmalka said that India has an enormous potential for growth, given the lower per capita consumption of only 11 kgs against the global average of 260 kgs at present.
"The per capita consumption of cement in India is perhaps the lowest in South East Asia. In Thailand, it is 293 kgs, China it is 429 kgs, Malaysia it is 529 kgs and in South Korea it is 951 kgs. India thus offers a tremendous growth opportunity given its lower per capita consumption," he said. "The rise in per capita consumption would be fuelled by the strong growth in the housing sector and the government’s thrust on infrastructure development. This will propel a robust volume growth. The demand will continue to increase at least 8 to 10 per cent annually," Puranmalka said.