-B Santhanam, CEO – Asia Pacific and India Region

1. Self and Company Introduction

A.R. Unnikrishnan is the Managing Director of the Glass Business at Saint-Gobain India Private Limited.

Saint-Gobain, with a legacy of over 357 years, has its origins in France. A world leader in light and sustainable construction, it designs, manufactures, and distributes materials and solutions for the construction and industrial sectors. With over 168,000 employees located in 75 countries, Saint-Gobain is guided by its purpose of “MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER HOME”.

2. What are the business and investment opportunities you see between India and France?

For the past 25 years, France and India are enjoying a strategic partnership. This bilateral relationship is a testament to their shared values and vision for mutual growth and development. In recent years, France has ranked up to be the 11th largest investor in India. This has given the necessary push in the right direction, not just cementing the ties between the two countries but also contributing to the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' vision of India.

Likewise, the Indian Government has taken several initiatives to improve ease of doing business, like relaxing FDI norms, encouraging manufacturing through Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme and reducing corporate tax. With several proactive measures put in place by the Government of India, today, it is easier to engage in business and capitalise on the investmentfriendly climate fostered by both the nations

3. What are some of the key challenges faced by your industry in the Indian market as well as by your company specifically? Can you describe some of the strategies you’ve implemented to overcome these challenges?

The major challenge that Indian manufacturing faces is on the energy front, particularly on the oil and gas prices and their availability. However, the Government of India is addressing this factor through forward-looking policies like the Green Hydrogen which will enable India to become energy-secure and energy-competitive in the long run.

4. What have been the biggest accomplishments of your company in the last few years?

In India, Saint-Gobain is present in Glass and Glass Solutions for architectural, automotive, solar, and homes, Plasterboard and Plasters, Industrial mortars, Construction Chemicals, Abrasives, Ceramics, Performance Plastics and Life Sciences. Saint-Gobain has consistently made significant investments over the years in India and the country remains a preferred investment hub. In fact, the World Glass Complex at Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, continues to be the group’s single largest investment destination anywhere in the world. With the housing sector geared for a boom, Saint-Gobain India has ventured into offering end-to-end consumer solutions from its various businesses.

In addition to its investments in the country, the company is strongly committed to innovation through Saint-Gobain Research India (SGR India). Located in Chennai, it is among the group's eight transversal centres worldwide, and has already produced more than 160 patents within a short period. Sustainability is at the core of Saint-Gobain 's strategy. The group is committed to achieve Net Zero by 2050, which is well-aligned with India's Carbon Neutrality vision by 2070.

It is worth noting that the Saint-Gobain brand has a better recall in India than anywhere else and this is a driving force to continue building on the brand value.

5. How has IFCCI added value to your organization in India? 

IFCCI has always been an invaluable supporter of French companies in India and we sincerely laud their efforts in bringing the much-needed visibility and impetus. The steps it has taken from time to time to bring together representatives of the Government, and Embassy, industry leaders and members of the fraternity, have played an instrumental role in synergising and forging strategic collaborations. We look forward to IFCCI's continued support in paving the way for greater exchange of thoughts and ideas for the sustained growth of French MNCs in the country.

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