Dr Anil Jindal, Chairman and Managing Director, SRS Group
His meteoric rise spanning real estate and other verticals is the stuff of dreams. In conversation with CHARU BAHRI, Chairman and Managing Director of SRS Group Dr Anil Jindal, the son of a milkman, traces his success back to his first venture. Further, he speaks about the promising prospects and challenges facing group company SRS Real Infrastructure Ltd.
What inspired you to venture into real-estate development? I come from a middle class family in village Firozpur Kalan in district Faridabad. I started my entrepreneurial journey after acquiring a postgraduate degree in commerce. I launched a coaching business. It did very well and, soon, I wanted to focus all my energy on growing the student clientele. I was also helping my father with his milk business at the time. Fortunately, he saw my point and let me follow my dream. By 1985, I had saved the princely sum of Rs 10 lakh, which I decided to plough into a financial solutions business. Starting with vehicle finance, my first company BTL Investment Ltd gradually diversified into other financial intermediaries. Then it evolved into the BTL Group, a banner representing businesses dealing with finance, rubber products, refined oil, etc. Around the year 2000, our finance business took a bad turn. Competition grew intense and recoveries became difficult. It was time to think ahead. I launched SRS Entertainment Ltd, which has given Faridabad its first mall, SRS Multiplex. Today, our entertainment business spans 12 multiplexes, 20 Value Bazaar retail outlets and 10 Food Courts in north and central India. A jewellery retail business followed thereafter. By 2007, spiralling land prices made real-estate development a valuable proposition. We launched our first project SRS Residency in Sector 88, Faridabad. We are one of the first developers to hand over possession of residential property in Greater Faridabad.
Where are SRS Real Infrastructure's projects located? Currently, we are developing around 5,500 residential units across three projects in Faridabad as well as residences in Palwal, Rewari, Kurukshetra and Panchkula. A commercial IT project is coming up in Ballabgarh. Ongoing projects in Faridabad include SRS Pearl Heights, SRS Royal Hills and SRS Residency, which are collectively spread over 70 acre in Sector 87. Our roots are in the National Capital Region (NCR); this is where we've made a name for ourselves. Our first project outside north India is in Karjat (Maharashtra). We're confident of carving a niche for ourselves in several geographies around the country in the next few years.
How large is your land bank? SRS has a land bank spanning around 430 acre in Faridabad, Palwal, Rewari, Panchkula, and Karjat (in Mumbai). Investments in land mean a lot to me. SRS Entertainment happened because the BTL Group had invested in about 40 acre.
How are the fluctuation in interest rates and slowdown affecting demand for SRS real estate? Our recent experience has been good despite the slowdown. NCR, particularly Faridabad, is seeing new residential, commercial and retail realty project launches. Buyers have become more favourable towards Faridabad because the city's infrastructure is improving rapidly as is its connectivity with other NCR towns. Spiralling prices of equivalent sized flats in Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad are also contributing to the attractiveness of Faridabad as an investment destination. We've scaled up SRS operations in Faridabad for these reasons.
How do you perceive the current economic climate unfolding for the real-estate development sector in the coming year? I foresee that 2013 will be an exciting year for the Indian real-estate industry. Commercial and residential property prices will continue to escalate in Delhi-NCR, particularly Faridabad as the metro is making inroads in the city. Also, demand for all kinds of real estate but especially for residential property is expected to pick up across the country, more so if the government succeeds in reining in inflation and bringing down home loan interest rates. Investors are likely to snap up the 2.5-3 lakh residential units expected to come up in India in the next five years.
In your view, what impact will the proposed regulation bill have on the industry? I expect a sea change in the industry with the passing of the proposed Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill. It will bring in more accountability and transparency for the benefit of all the stakeholders. Unscrupulous players will be compelled to get their act together and adopt best practices. Buyers will place more trust in real-estate developers, which is sure to boost demand. Also, as land is a state subject and every state has its own laws, this piece of legislation will introduce much-needed uniformity in the real-estate sector. My only concerns about the bill are over-regulation and the imposition of penalties on project delays that occur owing to factors that are beyond the developer's control. In the larger interest of all the stakeholders, bringing competent authorities including corporations and government agencies under the purview of this bill would make it more effective. Also, introducing 'one window clearance' would usher in greater efficiency and ensure time-bound project sanctions and permissions. Realty not only drives growth in the construction industry but makes a huge contribution to the country's GDP. It deserves special attention.
What are SRS Real Infrastructure's biggest challenges? Funding is every developer's biggest challenge nowadays. Intense industry competition and prevailing banking norms literally ask developers to arrange multiple funding options to make sure that their projects aren't delayed. We are fortunate to have a clutch of profitable businesses. Our internal accruals provide us operational flexibility as well as backup funding for contingencies and during lean periods. Also, the SRS Group's profitable and dependable image helps its constituent businesses attract private funding and JV partner funding from both individuals and companies.
What are some best practices that SRS Real Infrastructure adheres to? We focus on delivering on our promises and making our customers happy. This has helped us win our clients trust and develop SRS into a brand that has successfully diversified into several business areas.
Who are the architects and consultants for your real-estate projects? We engage with architects and a large number of specialised structural and MEP consultants with a proven reputation. They come on board to design our projects. These include Gautam & Gautam of Faridabad, Synergy Property Development Services of Bengaluru, Miglanis & Associates of Delhi, M&D Incorporated of Delhi, Genesis Architects of Delhi, etc.
Do your homes incorporate environment-friendly features? SRS homes are designed to let in sunlight and are naturally ventilated to reduce artificial lighting and ventilation costs. Other green features are rainwater harvesting, recycling wastewater for horticulture purposes and flushing, designated green areas, use of ready-mix concrete to reduce on-site pollution, use of flyash to reduce the overall cement consumption, and so on.
How important according to you is real-estate branding? Do you envisage the role of rating agencies to grade real-estate developers for the benefit of investors and clients? There is a strong need to ensure that customers are aware of developers' past track record and capabilities before they make a choice. Informed decision-making would help customers protect their investments, especially from fly-by-night operators. Good branding is thus essential for real-estate developers. Rating by rating agencies would only work if the agencies have clearly demonstrated their understanding of the complexities of this industry, where a large number of factors - many of which are beyond the control of developers - have an impact on projects.
What is your success mantra? Dreaming big and turning my dreams into reality with passion, honesty and consistent hard work. I've lived these principles since I was a student helping my father with milk deliveries. Also, I don't let ego get in the way of teamwork. I believe in having clear objectives, a focused strategy and in quick decision-making. I believe that no job is too small and therefore pay great attention to detail. I never let my zeal to learn cease. Over the years, I've pursued an MBA, a CCA and acquired a doctorate degree in Commerce in Services Marketing with special reference to bank marketing. Learning has widened my horizons, helped me get ahead in the race.
FACT SHEET: Top management:Dr Anil Jindal, Chairman; Rajesh Singla, Director; VK Sharma, Project Incharge; Suresh Arora, AGM Administration; Kapil Aggarwal, Sr Manager-Sales & Marketing; Pawan Kumar, Manager-Sales & Marketing Land bank: Over 430 acre No. of employees: 225 (direct) and 575 (indirect) Centres of operation: Sector-12, Faridabad Group turnover: Rs 3,500 crore (FY12) SRS Real Infrastructure turnover:Rs 724 crore (FY12)
Ongoing Projects: (Group housing) SRS Pearl, SRS Pearl Heights, SRS Royal Heights, SRS Royal Hills; (Independent floor) SRS Pearl; (Residential plotted colony) Lotus SRS Green City; (Farmhouse) SRS Retreat Farms II; (IT unit) IT Park, IT Park II; (Mixed use) SRS Township; SRS affordable group housing; 5 Star Hotel; Motels-2 Completed projects: (Farmhouse) SRS Retreat Farms; (IT Tower) SRS Tower; (Group Housing) SRS Residency
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