It's time to share the hospitality

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on March 12, 2018

Mr Ramesh Ramanathan

It's Mr Ramesh Ramanathan's last week in office and he's winding down and clearing up his office, unearthing many small nuggets from his long corporate career.

“Look,” he says, and holds up a news item from a magazine eight years ago which refers to his time as president of Foodworld Supermarkets when it was part of the RPG group. The 55-year-old Managing Director of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts Ltd is not hanging up his boots, but will start a venture from scratch, like he did with Club Mahindra's time share business when he joined the group in 1996.

Hospitality schools 

After a short break, Mr Ramanathan is going to start up a hospitality and culinary school for the Mahindra Group. This will get going with a brick-and-mortar set-up near Chennai and Goa and eventually expand to the rest of the country. “Hospitality schools today don't give you readily employable people. Vocational courses like these need a hands-on approach and with Mahindra Holidays in the group, we can give people the right practical training,” he elaborates. In a commercial venture it's possible to build scale quickly and once institutes spring up across the country, Mr Ramanathan intends to leverage the online medium to vault to a higher scale. “It's possible then to train thousands of young people as the hospitality sector will eventually need lots of people,” he explains.

This graduate of the Madras Christian College and IIM-Kolkata, had two stints as MD of Mahindra Holidays – from 1996 to 2000 as founding MD and from 2004 till now. In between he had stints at Sify, the RPG group's tyre business (Ceat in Sri Lanka) as well as a short one in retail.

While Mr Rajeev Sawhney from the Essar Group will take over from him, Mr Ramanathan is satisfied with the legacy he's leaving behind. “Why not?” he asks, “We have 1.25 lakh members, 35 properties, an asset replacement value of Rs 3,000 crore, a debt-free company which is sitting on cash of Rs 200 crore and Rs 800 crore in receivables and a market cap of Rs 3,400 crore.”

The year gone by was a period of consolidation for Mahindra Holidays. It knocked off around 7,000 members who were either dormant or not fully paid up, fine-tuned the sale process and embarked on a business process change including introducing an ERP system.

“Reservations will then go on the Net; it will make it a more transparent process.”

The fourth quarter saw a surge in net profits for the company by 25 per cent, even though the whole year net was down. But, Mr Ramanathan says the stage is set for his successor to pursue aggressive growth. There's a Rs 700 crore capex plan in place to add on more rooms and add more land to its existing bank of 400 acres. It ended the last fiscal with 1,675 rooms across 35 properties, which Mr Ramanathan looks at with satisfaction after a 15-year career in the time share business when he grew the Club Mahindra brand to the top spot in the business of holidays. 


Published on April 29, 2011

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