Tata Motors lost 91 people from its ecosystem due to COVID-19 and it “will do everything” it can to support their families, company Chairman N Chandrasekaran said on Friday.
Even after enduring “the fiscal year 2021” which has been “amongst the most challenging to date”, the company is on track to become a zero-debt company by the financial year 2023-24, he said while addressing shareholders in the company’s annual general meeting held virtually.
“The fiscal year 2021 has been amongst the most challenging to date, with COVID-19 creating a crisis of unprecedented scale and impact across the world. The swiftness and intensity of the pandemic as well as its multiple waves, overwhelmed health systems, devastating lives, and livelihoods,” said Chandrasekaran, who also led the gathering to pay condolences to the families of the bereaved with a minute’s silence.
He further said, “For our company, Tata Motors, it was a very difficult year. Our immediate focus during the year was the safety and well-being of our employees and our ecosystem partners. Despite our best efforts, we lost 91 people in this fight. Our heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones.”
Chandrasekaran said the company “will do everything” it can to support the families of the deceased.
Commenting on the impact of the pandemic, he said the global health crisis resulted in muted consumer demand along with disruption in the production supply chain and retail networks.
“To address this crisis, we put in place a comprehensive business continuity plan. Our agile and ecosystem-centric ways of working helped us to absorb the initial shock of total lockdowns,” Chandrasekaran added.
As the demand started coming back, he said Tata Motors “shifted gears to significantly scale up capacities and move fast to serve customer demand and thereby ending the year on a much stronger note.”
On the road ahead, Chandrasekaran said, “The company declared a goal to become a zero-debt company by FY24. Last year with internal cash flows and tight management were able to reduce the debt by over Rs 7,500 crore. And we are very much on our path and stay committed to meet our target of FY24.”
In the first quarter ended June 31, the company’s net automotive debt stood at Rs 61,286 crore.
Chandrasekaran said the company’s three fundamental strong businesses — India passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, and JLR although running independently, have drawn synergies wherever possible by facilitating strong collaboration.
The businesses have achieved a lot of efficiency through various transformation initiatives in such a way that the breakeven volumes have come down in each of these businesses, he said.
“So we believe the company is well poised to capture and deliver very strong financial performance as the volumes pick up in each one of these individual segments as the demand picks up in the commercial vehicles, and the supply side issues get resolved in the passenger car businesses and JLR businesses in addition to additional pickup in demand,” he added.