AkzoNobel India, among the largest global manufacturers of powder coatings, recently inaugurated its powder coatings facility in Mumbai, with an investment of Rs 650 million. Located in Thane, this is AkzoNobel's sixth facility in India. The new facility will complement the company's existing plant in Bengaluru, adding new product lines in bonded metallic powder and pipe and rebar coatings. Thierry Vanlancker, CEO, AkzoNobel NV, and Jayakumar Krishnaswamy, Managing Director, AkzoNobel India, share more in conversation with SERAPHINA D'SOUZA.
Tell us about the strategy behind this launch and the company's current market share in the powder coatings segment.
Vanlancker: AkzoNobel is No. 2 in the powder coatings market, which is growing fast worldwide. There is a visible trend of shifting from liquid coatings to powders. In India, this market is growing faster than we had anticipated a couple of years ago. Powder coatings continues to be a high-growth market for AkzoNobel, and the launch of the new facility will only further strengthen our manufacturing footprint in the country. With this plant, we intend to increase capacity in the region, which forms an important part of our organic growth plan.
Krishnaswamy: Our powder coatings segment in India has been delivering strong, profitable growth. In 2011, we decided to expand and increase our installed capacity considering the market growth and keeping in mind the faster growth of our business, which we have already increased to double digits. The new facility will play a critical role in our expansion plans in India and boost our access to the northern and western markets of the country.
Our aim is to have profitable and sustainable growth.
What is the capacity of the new plant?
Krishnaswamy: The new plant in Mumbai has a capacity of about 5,500 tonne to begin with, which is about the same as the Bengaluru one. The infrastructure at this plant is aimed, in a way, to double the capacity, if the market grows. The Mumbai plant has the latest technology in the world, tracked over two lines: One is functional products line and the other is regular products.
Tell us about the advantages of powder coatings and your emphasis on R&D.
Vanlancker: Powder has less energy consumption and has solid recovery. There are a couple of things powder coatings can do better; one is the temperature by which you can get the coating cured - the material has to flow at lower temperature and, at times, it flows too fast. Another is having a high-performing lower application temperature; it has enormous productivity. Yet another advantage is its special effects; you can now touch, feel and then use powder coatings at lower and higher temperatures. Our investments in R&D for powder coatings could be close to 4 per cent, which is a lot in this segment.
How has the year been for the company in India - not just in the powder coating business but otherwise too?
Vanlancker: AkzoNobel is among the top three in India. There has been a strong improvement in the business in India. Further, the powder coatings segment is expected to grow at 15 per cent ,.
Krishnaswamy: Also, from our six facilities, this is the fourth factory in six years. Our strength as a company is to set up the factory in minimum time. We will continue investing in the market as and when it needs us to.
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