“Last year’s sale (of cement) was not okay because we were hit by an extraordinary tsunami of increase in coal prices and pet coke, and the exchange rate of the dollar also gone up.” Srinivasan said.
The increase in the cost of production could not be recovered from the market. However, all cement players across India were able to increase the selling price to an extent elsewhere in other regions, to partially offset the cost increase, he said.
Going forward, Srinivasan said, the company has plans for improving liquidity in the short term through the disposal of some non-core assets, and steps are being taken to improve the operating parameters through the refurbishment of some of the plants.
“We have some surplus lands in Tirunelveli, of which we are on the verge of selling off about 600 acres to monetise the assets,” he told reporters.
According to him, the company’s total debt stands at about Rs 2,900 crore.
“Once we complete this monetisation plan, we will be in a better position,” he said. India Cements has also undertaken refurbishment of manufacturing facilities in Vishnupuram, Chilamkur (Andhra Pradesh), and Sankar Nagar (Tirunelveli), he said.
Responding to a question, Srinivasan said the company managed to sell 1.50 lakh tonne of cement in February in Tamil Nadu, while it doubled the figure to 3 lakh tonne in March, indicating a positive sentiment in the industry.
“The demand for cement is there in the market,” he said responding to a query.
India Cements’ Chief Marketing Officer R Parthasarathy said that the company last year added 640 dealers, taking the total to 4,000 presently across the country.