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Mr. Prakash Raman, Dy. Managing Director of Solvay, "Solvay to Carve a Niche for Itself in the Indian Composite Market"

The interview is a component of research report entitled "US and European Based companies in the Indian Composites Market: Lessons Learned." This report is based on series of interviews with multi-nationals, who are exploring growth opportunities in the Indian composite market. This 29-page report is FREE; to receive complete report, please write to helpdesk@lucintel.com. Following is excerpt from interview with Dy. Managing Director, Solvay Specialties India Pvt. Ltd.

Solvay Advanced Polymers, commissioned its new commercial PEEK (polyetheretherketone) facility in Panoli, India.

The plant is capable of producing 500 metric tons annually, and is scalable in design to double capacity to meet demand for Solvay Advanced Polymers' KetaSpire PEEK and AvaSpire modified PEEK products. In an exclusive interview with Editor, Lucintel, Venkat Rao,Dy. Managing Director, Mr. Prakash Raman shares his experience and future plans for India:

Q: When did you start a facility in India?

Raman: Solvay is multi-product company with stakes in pharmaceuticals, chemicals and plastics. We are in India since 1951. As far as composites are concerned we are niche players and mainly cater to foreign customers. We have been catering to the needs of composite industry through Solvay Specialities India Pvt. Ltd. We are not manufacturers but basic raw material suppliers for composites. We acquired polymer division of Gharda Chemicals in 2006. With the addition of Gharda Polymers we are able to provide our global customers the broadest range of high performance polymers solutions.

Q: What do U.S. and European companies need to know as they prepare to do business in India?

Raman: The Foreign companies need to understand (1) the Government of India ( for foreign investments and statutory compliances ) rules and regulations to start up the business in India.(2) It is also important to understand the local culture in which the business is done - things like customer's habits and language, their expectations and negotiation style and market conditions.

Q: How significant is the Indian market to your business today and in the future?

Raman: Frankly speaking very negligible. We neither have manufacturing facility nor key customers in India.

Q: What are some of the key challenges faced by your company in Indian market?

Raman: Challenges that we faced were to educate the customers to see past the initial cost of the product and educate them as to the life cycle cost of the product. Industry standards are also not up to mark there is a lot of scope for improvement and upgradation. Market has to mature; our feeling is that it may take long time to mature.

Q: What key lessons can you share from your company's experience there?

Raman: We will have to develop applications specific to the Indian market. Supply chain challenge is more in India compared to European markets. Supply chain system needs to be strengthened.

Q: How is doing business in India different from doing business in Europe or US.

Raman: India is an example of unity in diversity. It is a multi-lingual nation with different set of values; customer behavior is different. It is important to understand the local culture in which the business is done - things like customer's habits and language, their expectations and negotiation style, service levels, payment behaviors also need to be understood. Entrepreneurs have to understand regional values and inculcate them for better results.

Q: How much growth have you seen in last 2-3 years from your Indian business?

Raman: Not much, we are not in a big way in composites in India. We are basic raw material suppliers to composites; hope to do well in future.

Q: How much growth do you expect in next 2 years?

Raman: Will carve a niche for ourselves in the composites market.

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