“We are driving forward our operations in India to tap the huge growth potential in this extraordinary market.”

Arvind Chandra, Divisional CEO, Asia
Arvind Chandra, Divisional CEO, Asia
Arvind Chandra

Divisional CEO, Asia

After several years of explosive growth, which has seen our Ashirvad brand quadruple its revenues in four years, our operations in India faced challenges in 2023.

Although volumes continued to grow strongly, we were hit by rapidly declining resin prices which resulted in flat revenues and decreasing margins before profitability stabilised in the second half of the year.

In addition, we had to account for several one-off adjustments totalling €22.3 million before tax, including a potential credit loss of €10.7 million, a €1.5 million inventory adjustment and some other adjustments.

Revenue

+1.4%

on a like-for-like1 basis vs. 2022

Recurring EBITDA

-48.5%

on a like-for-like1 basis vs. 2022

We moved quickly to address this setback, with a renewed management team fully focused on realising the huge growth potential in the world’s fastest growing economy as we work to address its water and clean energy challenges.

Those challenges are immense in a country which is home to 18% of the world’s population yet has just 4% of its water resources. This is why the government is investing billions through its National Infrastructure Pipeline, with water, energy and transport projects to the fore, and other initiatives including plans to bring clean drinking water to 200 million people living in rural areas.

Our growth strategy in India is built around maximising our proven record for rapid innovation to meet our customers’ needs, and on our plans, already underway, to expand our manufacturing capacity and our customer reach right across this dynamic market.

In addition, we are working to create a global mindset and work culture within the business, fully embracing digital transformation, and improving our financial discipline and procedures.

Growing our presence

We are already investing in internal growth at a rapid rate. Plans for a €48 million state-of-the-art factory near Hyderabad, in the Telangana region, have been confirmed and work is well underway, with operations set to start in 2025. We are also planning to expand capacity in the north and east of the country to complete our national coverage.

Collaboration with our customers to develop great solutions, backed by first-class customer service, is at the heart of how we operate, and we are delighted to have such strong support from them.

Since 2022, we’ve tripled the size of our product offering with a complete range of pipes, valves, and fittings. These include components developed by our FIP business in Italy and metal connector solutions from our Swiss brand, Straub, adapted where necessary to meet local customer needs.

Our commitment to customer intimacy continued during the year and we were thrilled to see our Net Promoter Score, measuring customer satisfaction, climb from 59 in 2022 to 68. Our product quality is particularly highly regarded by our Indian customers.

We also opened a large customer experience centre at our Bengaluru Research hub during the year. This unique digital and physical centre allows customers to fully engage with our products for plumbing, agriculture, and infrastructure and to experience how we are reshaping the water management industry though sustainability, innovation, and state-of-the-art solutions.

Our Bengaluru hub’s testing and calibration labs achieved accreditation to the ISO17025 standard, verified by the National Accreditation Board. This is the highest level of accreditation in India, recognising our commitment to quality and excellence.

Innovation excellence

The pace of innovation has increased rapidly in recent years, thanks to our product development teams and our research scientists at the Bengaluru hub who all work closely with customers.

During the year, we brought a host of new products to market, some of them world firsts. These include new lighter products which are less carbon intensive and easier to install, our anti-microbial, anti-viral UPVC pipe, addressing water quality concerns from microbial growth, a new hot and cold-water piping solution using advanced electrofusion for simpler, quicker and more eco-friendly pipe jointing, and our next generation, practical and space-saving hybrid sewage treatment plant.

We’re now bringing new products to market much faster, in line with our Growth with Purpose strategic aims, and in 2023 derived 56% of our revenues from solutions that are less than five years old.

Increasingly we are using digital technology, such as computational analysis and predictive engineering, as well as design to cost methodologies, faster prototyping, and quicker proof of concept work, to maintain the pace of innovation and sustain new product revenue at these high levels.

1 2022 adjusted on a pro-forma basis to reflect the impact of the acquisition of Harco Fittings LLC in April 2022, Aquarius Spectrum in August 2022, OptiRTC Inc. in November 2022, Lareter in December 2022, Zypho in May 2023, Valencia Fittings LLC in June 2023 and the discontinued operations in Russia in June 2022. Impact of FX excluded to reflect underlying performance at constant exchange rate.

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