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CEAT in Sri Lanka: Leading all the way

CEAT in Sri Lanka: Leading all the way

To those who survive and transcend it, adversity is a great test of mettle.
Sri Lanka was in the middle of a debilitating conflict when the CEAT tyre brand commenced manufacturing operations in the country in August 1993. Within the five months that preceded this largely unheralded milestone, Sri Lanka had lost two prominent political leaders, one of them the incumbent President, to assassinations. It wasn’t the most conducive of times to commence a business venture, especially one that from its fledging days would have to compete with about 50 international tyre brands, some global giants among them.
Twenty five years and investments exceeding Rs 5 billion later, CEAT is the single highest selling tyre brand in Sri Lanka, manufactures nearly half of the country’s tyre requirements, exports 30 per cent of its production to 17 countries and is on the verge of breaking new ground with the commissioning of the first Truck Bus Radial (TBR) plant on the island. Along the way, CEAT has partnered with Kelani Tyres to form CEAT Kelani Holdings, breathing new life into the sprawling former state-owned tyre plant at Kelaniya and growing into an enterprise that has been hailed as probably the most successful India-Sri Lanka joint venture in operation.

Today, the CEAT brand is represented by nearly 250 different tyre sizes manufactured in Sri Lanka for different vehicle categories at two manufacturing plants in the country, and has market shares of a 52 per cent in the Truck/Light truck segment; 32 per cent in the Radial segment; 50 per cent in the Three-wheeler segment, 24 per cent in the Motorcycle segment and 72 per cent in the Agri vehicle segment. Sales in 2016-17 exceeded Rs 12 billion.

The most recent investment by the CEAT Kelani joint venture, announced in January 2018, will see Passenger Car Radial (PCR), Van and SUV radial tyre production balloon from 500,000 tyres a year to 850,000 a year, a doubling of Motorcycle tyre manufacturing capacity, previously at 375,000 tyres a year, and the first ever production in Sri Lanka of 30,000 Truck Bus Radials annually, leading to noteworthy import substitution, a substantial saving of foreign exchange, the transfer of the latest international know how and technology for the manufacture of this category of tyre, and the launch of TBRs designed and built for local conditions.

Besides generating direct employment to nearly 1,000 people, CEAT’s phenomenal success has also benefitted the community. The brand implements two CSR programmes in Sri Lanka, with its flagship initiative being a country-wide effort to educate school children, school van drivers and parents on road safety. To date, nearly 200 schools have benefitted from the programme and also received donations of traffic management equipment to create a safe environment near their entrances and exits. CEAT’s second CSR initiative is designed to provide students leaving university and tertiary educational institutes, the guidance they need to commence their careers.

Now on the cusp of a new phase of acceleration, CEAT’s journey in Sri Lanka is best summed up by the slogan of its latest advertising campaign: “Never Stop Moving.”

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