Ceat Tyres resumes partial operations

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on May 28, 2020

A sharp slide in rubber prices and a steep fall in crude oil prices would otherwise have been sweet music for tyre manufacturers. Not so for the tyre industry enmeshed in the pandemic-related chaos.

Tyre makers use a mix of natural and synthetic rubber ― a derivative of crude oil. Though all tyre manufacturing facilities curtailed operations during the lockdown, the severe drop in rubber and crude oil price could lower raw material costs for tyre makers.

“The sharp decline in rubber prices, that could have been passed on, would likely be offset by the lull period of business activity,” said Arnab Banerjee, Chief Operating Officer, Ceat Tyres Ltd.

Just as every other industry battled Covid-19, so did tyre manufacturers across India. “It is inevitable that the tyre industry was impacted,” Banerjee told BusinessLine.

“Production was stalled and all outlets closed on account of the lockdown. However, we have been keeping ourselves prepared for the times ahead when normal operations are restored,” the official added.

Though Ceat Tyres has reopened some units of its sales and service network and has resumed services at many dealerships, the company is looking to understand how full operations can be restored while minimising the associated risks.

In certain areas, the company has also introduced doorstep delivery service, while ensuring the enforcement of mandatory adherence to precautionary measures at its Shoppes.

“We expect a surge in demand post the lockdown period. Even within the lockdown, there were several requirements coming in, on account of essential services, e.g. movement of trucks, transportation of front-line workers, etc...We were agile to cater to all these requirements,” added Banerjee.

Customer speak

The pandemic induced abrupt halt to activities led to the accumulation of raw materials and semi-finished and finished goods in the supply chain. While production was stalled at all Ceat manufacturing plants, several planned new product launches were postponed.

However, the company did not stop speaking to its consumers.

“We have been in touch with our consumers through various modes of communication,” said Banerjee. “Social media is a great boon where we stay relevant during these testing times, urging people to follow the directives and stay safe. Topical events are also other great opportunities to engage with consumers and drive home our messages,” he added.

Another set of customers ― the truckers, did not go unnoticed and came in for huge praise. Banerjee said the company was teaming up with various transport associations all through the lockdown.

“While the manufacturing plants were the hubs and were used for various volunteering activities like food distribution to the daily wage workers and needy people, truck sanitisation activities were also undertaken,” he added.

Recently, advertising major Ogilvy and Ceat released a film, an ode to the least recognised and least thanked member of the supply chain family ― the trucker.

For truckers, their trucks are houses, given their long, strenuous trips on the road. They are also the ones who spend a lifetime trudging through tedious dangerous roads, braving both bad weather and poor road conditions, to keep the arteries of the nation circulating with essential supplies.

Taking the metaphor of houses that move ‘Kuch makaan chalte hain, Ceat’s film has truckers going about their regular business, with the video detailing: ‘Makaan kai hai, Maquaam ek hai’ (There are several homes, but there is one destination) ‘Ye desh daudta rahe, bas kaam ek hai (That the nation moves ahead is their one job) ‘Bade wajan utahane walon ke liye, Ceat ne uthaya kuch chotte kadam’ (For all these heavy lifters, Ceat has taken some small steps).

Ceat decided to actively make a difference in the the lives of truckers, by sanitising thousands of trucks, tying up with fuel stations and providing free meals. All of this is true to the brand’s motto ― ‘It helps’.

Harsh Bhatt, Executive Vice President, Ogilvy Mumbai, said there are many people who get due recognition and then there are the unsung warriors. “This is an ode to one such set of unsung warriors, for whom WFH does not exist. Truckers are the ones carting essentials all over the country so that homes keep running smoothly,” Bhatt said.

For many truckers, the lockdown period has been even more challenging since they have had to deliver essential goods despite the unnerving conditions. Ceat will continue to support ‘Truckers and Fleets’ ― the real heroes.

Published on May 28, 2020

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