On solid ground

Shree Cement has had spectacular success in the North. Can it conquer the South and East?

Sandipan Chatterjee

There is no more than a hint of a grin on Prashant Bangur’s face when you question him about his strategy. Almost instantly, the conversation goes back to 2003, when as a freshly minted 22-year-old MBA graduate, he was sent to Shree Cement’s plant in Rajasthan’s Beawar. At that point in time, Shree Cement was a company with a two million tonne capacity and revenues of Rs.484 crore, with a net profit of just Rs.6.70 crore. More worryingly, there was a debt of Rs.360 crore on the balance sheet. “We decided to go in for an expansion in 1998 and the market collapsed. Till 2003, we were in the middle of a debt trap and our strategy was only to survive,” he says slowly.