Fri. Aug 19th, 2022
Financial Express - Business News, Stock Market News
Raymond’s board has approved JK Files & Engineering raising funds through an IPO.Raymond’s board has approved JK Files & Engineering raising funds through an IPO.

By Rajesh Kurup

Branded fabric and fashion retailer Raymond Group is beginning to make a name in the real estate sector too. The group is also expanding its educational initiatives, chairman and managing director Gautam Hari Singhania said in an interview with Rajesh Kurup. He termed the book ‘An Incomplete Life’ by former Raymond chairman Vijaypat Singhania, which has created controversy, “unfortunate” and a “figment of imagination”. Edited excerpts.

The second quarter was good for the company with a 13.4% Ebitda margin, which was higher than pre-Covid levels, and revenue doubled from last year. Are we seeing a revival?

For about 12 months, people were not able to shop, specifically clothes, and people needed new clothes. The wedding segment is also buoyant, as people could not get married during the pandemic, and that pent-up demand was another factor. I think there is huge buoyancy in the market.

Going forward, are you expecting this growth to sustain?

Normally, post-Diwali, we always see a dip in business. This time we didn’t see a dip, which is a good sign, which shows sustainability and sustained demand. This makes me very optimistic.

Raymond’s board has approved JK Files & Engineering raising funds through an IPO.

JK Files is a good business and we thought we’d monetise some of its assets to enhance shareholder value, while Raymond, as a corporate, wants to reduce its debt. We will be filing the Draft Red Herring Prospectus in a couple of days.

Raymond is also planning to rejig businesses and also bring in professionals on board. Your thoughts?

We’re going to professionalise all our business with good professional management. We are on that journey. All our businesses are professionally run. We are putting in professional systems, processes, best people and governance. This is a journey, it’s not a destination.

What can you tell us about Raymond Realty, the real estate business?

It’s doing well and we have become the most-favoured brand in Thane with a 25% market share. Our projects would be delivered two years ahead of the RERA commitment and we will give our first apartment in December 2022. We are developing over 3 million sq ft in Phase-I and 1 million sq ft in Phase-II. Raymond was known for many things, but now I’m happy to say that we have built a good name in the realty business too.

What are the plans to expand your education initiatives?

Education is one of our social causes. We have schools in Thane, Chhindwara and Vapi, while we are setting up a school in Amravati. We are looking at Dubai, which is a big market for education. At Thane, we are planning to expand it to 11,800 children from the present 7,000. It’s the dream of educating more children, and we are living that dream.

What do you have to say on the controversies and legal battle around the book ‘An Incomplete Life’, penned by your father and former Raymond Group chairman Vijaypat Singhania?

The book is what it is, it is his opinion. I’m not going to get into a ‘tu-tu-main-main’. It’s unfortunate that at his age he has to write a book like this. A lot of the book is a figment of his imagination. He has also violated the law because there is one chapter on me, which is sub judice. Because the matter is in court, I shall not comment on it. But he’s violated the law by making comments. It’s his opinion of what is going on and that doesn’t make it the truth. Frankly, it doesn’t make any difference.

There were also reports of Raymond planning to withdraw the legal suits.

The matter is in court, I cannot comment.

You have also been renominated to represent India at the FIA World Motor Sports Council.

Currently, I sit as a world council member on FIA and I have been a member for the last four years. The elections are coming up in December. From India, there were two candidates, myself and Vicky Chandhok from Madras Motor Sports Club, and the federation voted in my favour with eight of the total 10 votes. If I get elected to the world council, I will do whatever it takes to promote India for motorsport. It’s unfortunate that of the last four-year term I had, we lost almost two years due to the pandemic.

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