Reminiscence and futurism morphed in a magnificent celebration of the 25-year journey of CEAT in Sri Lanka when 125 leading tyre dealers congregated at the Shangri La hotel in Hambantota recently to be felicitated for their role in building the country’s top tyre brand.
The vagaries of 2017-18 notwithstanding, the CEAT Kelani joint venture ended the 25th year of the brand’s presence in the market on a jubilant note, having gained further market share across all product categories and achieving an all-time high in brand equity in the year concluded.
CEAT Kelani Chairman Mr Chanaka de Silva told dealers exciting times are ahead of them, with the first truck bus radial (TBR) tyre manufactured in Sri Lanka expected to become commercially available within the next three months; car, van and SUV radial tyre capacity growing from 500,000 to 850,000 a year and motorcycle tyre production doubling to 750,000 a year; all consequent to a new investment of Rs 3 billion by the joint venture.
“We are celebrating a tough but successful year,” Mr de Silva said, pointing out that many natural calamities had suppressed economic growth to 3.2 per cent, while businesses faced a new tax regime, increased interest rates and a depreciating Rupee. “We tried our best to minimise the impact on customers by keeping price revisions to the minimum possible, and increased brand visibility and our interaction with dealers to grow market share,” he said.
“It is in difficult times that the resilience and loyalty of people matter,” Mr de Silva noted, adding that the support of dealers had been tremendously important to CEAT’s success in facing the challenges of 2017-18.
CEAT Kelani Managing Director Mr Ravi Dadlani disclosed that the grit and resilience of the brand’s dealers had enabled CEAT to grow its market share in radial tyres from 27 per cent to 33 per cent last year; in motorcycle tyres from 22 per cent to 26 per cent, and in truck and light truck tyres from 50 to 52 per cent. The brand also has a market share of 50 per cent for three-wheeler tyres and accounts for 72 per cent of the agricultural tyre market.
Announcing that the company has planned many new initiatives to support its growth strategy in Sri Lanka in the years ahead, Mr Dadlani said the milestone of 25 years in the market, which was achieved in August 2018, would be a stepping stone. “Our journey doesn’t end here,” he stressed. “CEAT is already one of the best loved brands in Sri Lanka and we look forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary retaining our position as the No 1 tyre brand in the country.”
One of the highlights of the awards night was the presentation of imposing plaques of appreciation to 41 dealers who have been with the CEAT brand since its arrival in the market 25 years ago.
Top dealers honoured for their contribution to the brand’s growth in 2017-18 received cash awards, trophies and certificates in recognition of their performances in each of the product categories that CEAT manufactures, as well for overall excellence. They also had an opportunity to win gold through raffle draws conducted during the proceedings.
CEAT’s top 10 dealers overall in 2017-18 were headed by Dealer of the Year U&H Wheels of Colombo 1, followed by Paramount Tyre Traders – Colombo 14, Smart Wheels – Colombo 2, Nanda Tyre House – Vavuniya, Supiri Tyre Works – Kandy, M. J. R. Peiris & Sons – Kandy, Sumidag Tyre Company – Kurunegala, Sumith Marketing – Ambalangoda, Abdeen Tyre Service – Akkaraipattu and CIM Distributors – Walasmulla.
CEAT Kelani’s manufacturing operations in Sri Lanka produce nearly half of the country’s pneumatic tyre requirements. The company exports about a third of its production to 16 countries in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East.