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Tuesday, Mar 12, 2002

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Shree Cement upbeat; shifts to April-March

Kohinoor Mandal

KOLKATA, March 11

THE Rs 556-crore Shree Cement Ltd has decided to change its accounting period from July-June to April- March for 2001-02, but hopes to earn the same amount of profit in the nine months of this fiscal that it did in the last 12-month accounting period.

For the accounting year ended June 30, 2001, Shree Cement, the flagship company of Mr B.G. Bangur, recorded a turnover of Rs 556.12 crore and net profit of Rs 26.11 crore.

However, for the nine-month period ending March 31, 2002, the bottomline of the company is expected to be around Rs 26-27 crore on a turnover of approximately Rs 450 crore.

Mr H.M. Bangur, Joint Managing Director of Shree Cement, said that the current financial year was highly profitable for his company.

"I will not like to comment on the performance of other cement companies; but we are doing extremely well. Even on a reduced turnover, we are confident of registering the same amount of profits,'' Mr Bangur told Business Line.

Regarding the change of the accounting period, he said, the company wished to follow the general Indian industry pattern. Moreover, the company had to prepare another set of accounts with March year ending for submitting to different authorities.

"We wanted to follow the accounting style of the mainstream corporates and also there is no need to prepare two sets of accounts,'' he said.

About six months back, Shree Cement appointed the well- known theatre personality and advertising guru, Mr Alyque Padamsee, as an advisor. On his recommendations, the company decided to launch premium quality cement. It was Mr Padamsee's conviction that Indian consumers were willing to pay more for products with better quality.

According to Mr Bangur, this new generation cement has a special chemical ingredient that acts as an anti-corrosive agent for steel structures of a building. Named Shree Ultra, the cement is also free of ash content. Mr Bangur felt that this cement would solve the problem of rusting steel structures.

However, the cost of producing this cement was higher by about Rs 6-7 per bag. Shree Cement has selected Punjab, the State with the highest per capita income, to introduce the product, and later, it will move over to Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Despite the higher cost of production, Mr Bangur said, introductory prices of Shree Ultra would be the same as that of the existing products.

"We will go about it cautiously. Once the product is established in the market, we will increase its prices. But that will be in the long run,'' he said.

Currently, Shree Cement, which has its plant in Rajasthan, is a market leader in Delhi and Haryana with a share of 17-18 per cent. In Rajasthan, it is 10-12 per cent, and in Punjab, it is about 9-10 per cent.

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