It gives me immense pleasure to share with you our performance for the year gone by and the journey ahead. The year gone by was marked by tumultuous changes and challenging business environment on several fronts. These changes, driven by forces of Sustainability, Digitization and Technology will create exciting and transformative opportunities.
I am truly energized by the strengths which our Company has built over the years and the transformation agenda in front of us. The theme of this year''''s annual report also is about transformation. Reimagine LIFE - Reimagine Living, Industry and Farm Essentials - as we continue to Serve Society through Science.
Overall business performance
FY2016-17 was an encouraging year for us. A year in which our businesses delivered excellent performance, including sustained profitability in our international businesses. The performance was led by the Chemicals business which remains the mainstay of our operations. Our India and US businesses delivered stable margins, with better volumes despite challenges in terms of rising energy costs. The performance of our UK business was robust, owing to consistent focus on cost rationalization. Our Kenyan business successfully overcame its quality challenges during the year.
Tata Salt maintained its No1. position in the Food Category in the Brand Equity Survey. We continued to build our Consumer Food business on that foundation, while we did pause our pulses business, for some time, due to government price intervention, structurally, we see a lot of potential in this space; and we will enhance our focus on value-addition with a range of besan, protein rich mixes and other products. At the same time, our spices continue to gain market share in the three regions even as we prepare to enter the South Indian market. Our Innovation Centre in Pune also launched the TATA Nx sweeteners (Zero Sugar and Lite & Sweet).
During the year, our revenue from continuing operations was Rs, 13,288.92 crore against Rs, 15,220.23 crore last year. The decline was due to a management decision to run the Phosphate fertilizers business to maximize cash generation.
This led to improved profitability and PAT sharply up by 29%, over the previous year.
The robust cash flow of our businesses enabled us repay our ECB loan and achieve significant reduction in working capital borrowings and strengthened our balance sheet.
Going Forward - Our Strategy
Our strategy is to maintain our strengths in Chemicals Business while growing the Specialty Business and Consumer Food Business, even as we focus on the Farm Business through our subsidiaries Rallis and Metahelix. We have a unique combination of a Farm business in Rallis, having the Farmer connect and a Food business in Tata Chemicals Limited having the Household connect.
Our decision to exit the Urea Business was a critical move in line with our strategy. The Specialty Business and Consumer Business are going to be our future growth catalysts. We are investing in manufacturing facilities in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh to develop scale in Specialty Businesses of New Materials like HDS and Nan materials and New Nutrition and Foods such as Oligosaccharides and Polyols.
Emerging as future ready
We are focusing our Sustainability efforts around FEW (Food, Energy and Water) challenges facing the world while we continue driving resource optimization and utilization in our operations, launching innovative nourishing products and enabling self-reliance amongst farmers and the community.
Our investments in our Food, Farm and Materials technology laboratories in Pune and Bengaluru are yielding several new innovative solutions and products, much of which is highlighted in the annual report.
Our digital initiatives are having a positive impact on our balance sheet. In FY2016-17, we put in place Digitization agenda and IT infrastructure for integrating our operations, particularly in the domains of Supply Chain management, Customer and Employee engagement. During the year, Digital Projects in Chemicals, Food and Farm businesses were initiated which will enable us to automate processes, improve data quality and predictive analytics, and promote innovation.
I would like to thank all our Shareholders, including our promoter and principal Shareholder, Tata Group for their support, especially during difficult times few quarters ago, which only reinforced our commitment and our deep belief in our Values and Purpose and the very Principles on which Tata Chemicals Limited and Tata group was founded. While Tata Chemicals Limited is on its way to celebrate 80 years in 2019, last year was 90 years of our founding as Okha Salt Works in Mithapur and next year will be 150 years of Tata Group, I want to thank all our stakeholders, who over the years have made this a memorable journey and we are committed to Serving Society through Science and Reimagining LIFE (Living, Industry and Farm Essentials) in all its facets.
I seek the support and guidance of all our stakeholders in this Endeavour.
R. Mukundan Managing Director & CEO