The current dip in automobile sales is a temporary one and once sales pick up the demand for the company's automotive advanced high-strength steel will rise, predicts Sergio Moyano, Sales Director-Turkey, Middle East & India, Special Steels, SSAB.
What are your plans for the Indian market in the near and medium-term?
Considering the government's plan to invest in infrastructure and construction, the Indian market holds immense potential for special steel products in the near and medium-term. SSAB India, through its warehouse in Chennai, sells in all parts of India. Additionally, we are opening our second warehouse in Panvel, near Mumbai, in the fourth quarter of FY2020, which shall have a capacity of nearly 2,000 tonnes. With the new proposed warehouse, we aspire to sell about 3,000 tonnes per annum from Mumbai.
Which market segments excite you the most and what products in your portfolio do you perceive as having growth potential?
SSAB India primarily operates in the special steel segment mainly 'wear-resistant steel' with its HARDOX brand and 'advanced high-strength structural steel' with its STRENX brand. The combined Indian market for both these varieties of special steels is 60,000 tonnes. We are a market leader in these segments and will continue to grow our share in the coming days.
Will you be focusing more on construction and infrastructure sectors since automobiles - which is an important segment for you - has recorded its steepest decline in sales in 19 years?
Construction and infrastructure equipment manufacturers are the major customers for SSAB's wear-resistant steel, HARDOX, and advanced high-strength structural steel, STRENX, brands, and our focus in India has primarily been on these segments. The current dip in automobile sales is a temporary one and once the sales pick up the demand for our automotive advanced high-strength steel brand, DOCOL, will rise as well.
What new segments are you eyeing? Are defence and space exploration among them?
SSAB's Armox or Ramorbrand, they are an ultra-hard steel plate and the preferred choice for all defence equipment manufacturers across the world. SSAB Armox plates have safeguarded human life in the world's most dangerous environments. Our customers supply protection equipment for military and civilian applications alike and they know that when it comes to armour steel, there is no room for error. Our entire production process is designed to make sure our products always meet the specifications so that they can always be on the safe side.
SSAB's Armox and Ramor protection plates come with guaranteed ballistic properties, with each grade and thickness being tested to the most extensive and stringent international standards. And we cooperate with leading independent laboratories for ballistic testing so that we can offer plates that are certified to their required standards.
The National Steel Policy (NSP), 2017 seeks to encourage domestic manufacturers to aspire for international benchmarks. As a manufacturer of specialised steels, do you perceive any rise in awareness of the benefits of producing and using high-quality steel among the stakeholders in the industry?
Through our 'SSAB EcoUpgraded' initiative, we collaborate with our customers and help them upgrade the material and design of end applications. We sensitise them with the benefits of upgrading to high-strength steel which includes reduced weight, improved fuel economy and extended product lifetime - all of which significantly contribute to reducing the product's carbon footprint. The SSAB EcoUpgraded concept saves CO2 both in steel production and during the full lifetime of the end product.
How would SSAB utilise the twin advantage of the availability of low-cost manpower and the presence of abundant iron ore reserves that India offers?
India is a lucrative market to manufacture, considering the presence of abundant iron ore reserves and the low-cost manpower it offers. Being a player catering to a very niche market, our present plan is to import products from our global steel mills. However, considering the rising demand from the Indian market for specialised steels, we do not rule out our plans to set-up manufacturing in India.
"Being a player catering to a very niche market, our present plan is to import products from our global steel mills. However, considering the rising demand from the Indian market for specialised steels, we do not rule out our plans to set-up manufacturing in India."