Businesses may not go back to earlier days in a hurry, says Elgi Equipments MD Jairam Varadaraj

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on April 27, 2020

While stating that “staying at home for weeks in a row – trying to explore business opportunities, ways and things to do” was certainly not what he is used to, Jairam Varadaraj, Managing Director, Elgi Equipments, said “The whole situation seems like a science fiction, a thriller based on a pandemic. It has shaken the confidence of the people at an individual level. It could therefore, take a while to recover.”

So, even if the lockdown were to be lifted and economic activity re-initiated, businesses, according to him, “would not go back to the earlier levels in a hurry”.

In a chat with BusinessLine, he said, “It is a business challenge, a significantly deeper and wider challenge, that cannot be solved with conventional thinking and business models. We need to look for sustainable models as people might start thinking twice about migrating to their earlier standard of existence.”

“Under the circumstance, the government, society and public will have to go through a transformation to instil confidence amongst the people. The government alone cannot take on this onerous task, as its coffers are not deep enough,” Varadaraj added.

Accordint to Varadaraj, corporates have a social responsibility. Business models would have to undergo some transition and “everyone would have to take a haircut ― companies, government and citizens ― there’s no choice”.

Conceding that it certainly would be a challenge, Varadaraj said the government’s intervention should be from the bottom of the pyramid, primarily to ensure that the vast majority are not out on the streets.

At the second level, corporates should look at their balance sheets and the resources that they can contribute for the well-being of society.

While hailing the efforts made by the government to control the spread of the deadly virus, Varadaraj did not fail to point out the economic intervention initiated by every other country except India. “It is still a suspense and this is causing uncertainty. We will need to watch the situation very minutely as things evolve, have multiple plans and match the right one.”

When asked to share his plans for Elgi, he said, “Our aspiration to emerge as the No 2 player is still our primary focus and in some ways we are at an advantage, for we are not dependent only on one economy.”

“In a shrunk economic condition, customers are not going to be driven by brands as much as value proposition. For Elgi, this is a good thing, for outside the country we are still an unknown brand with a Made in India label. Our value proposition is high; we expect to be slightly better placed in terms of customer receptivity,” he added.

That said, Varadaraj hinted at looking at technologies that are available and could be developed by the company.

Published on April 27, 2020

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