Prashanth Mani, MD of Motorola Group, has just overseen the first profitable year. Speaking exclusively to ET’s Shashwat Mohanty at launch of the company’s newest device, Mani dismisses any impact of the economic slowdown and says that it has plans ready for the upcoming festive season. Edited excerpts: How have the numbers been for your company?Globally [the mobile business] has been one of the most competitive categories where very few brands make money- Samsung, Apple, and maybe one or two Chinese brands. Last year was the first year for Motorola when the mobile business became profitable.We are the fastest growing OEM in North America. And we grew 37% faster than the market last quarter. Our PTI (pre-taxi income) margin grew about 14.4%. In Latin America, we had 11 consecutive quarters of growth. Slowly, we are getting our focus into the emerging markets like India.You mentioned that you have moved 100% of manufacturing in India. Could you elaborate on this?We started our journey of manufacturing in India around four years back. There is a “phased manufacturing plan” which has been a mandate given by Prime Minister Mr. Modi, where he says that every year some component will get localised, which means you have to get a local supplier. We have also now made us export ready. We feel that India will become an export hub. Therefore, first you have the systems in place so that the IT systems can order, our factories are integrated, and the supply chain starts to work with that. And we have had some exports out of India- to the Middle East, among other places.Do you have any plans for expanding your offline presence?We’ve primarily been a large online player. Last year, we started investing in what is called Moto mobile hubs. So we put nearly 700 hubs largely in organized retail outlets like Poorvika, Reliance Digital, Udaan, and even some mom-and-pop large stores. No plans for any exclusive Motorola outlets as of now.Currently, there is a weak consumer sentiment over the market with respect to the demand. How is the smartphone industry dealing with this?[The smartphone industry] continues to chug along pretty well. The IDC report says it’s a 9.9% growth. Counterpoint and Canalys don’t report a high. It’s very tough to estimate the growth. By and large, I think that in the smartphone industry is growing in the lower single digits, but it is growing. I don’t think it will be impacted much by the situation, because the consumer here continues to seek this out as a very important part of their purchase. I don’t think the industry is noticing a buckle down.Do you have any expectations for Motorola’s numbers for this year?For us, it’s very clear: we are going to be focused on only two things- profitability and growth over market. Those are our driving principles.Do you expect any spillover of inventory to the fourth quarter for 2019?We’ve got very low inventory. A very key focus for us is getting the right supply chain. In this industry, inventory is like fish. So we operate very tightly. In the last one year we have tightened up processes around supply chain so that we keep the right amount of inventory and keep reordering at the right level. We’ve set up a lot of business practices to ensure that.Production [in India] does help. But it also means that you have to forecast better, to plan better. So a lot of those new processes we have put in place- they’re very critical in this industry, and we’ve been on top of it, so we have no concerns.
We are a large online player: Motorola – ET Telecom
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