It is with great satisfaction and pride that we look back on FY2017. It was the year we fulfilled our promises and took affirmative steps to produce sustainable financial performance on a consistent basis and delivered solid results.
Today, we have evolved into an asset-light franchisee-based business model, with Vakrangee Kendras central to our theme, strategically located to provide last-mile access in the remotest areas of India.
We are essentially multi-purpose convenient stores located across urban, rural and “difficult to reach”areas of India. We provide more than 100 million products and a wide range of real-time services under a single roof across Banking & ATM, Insurance, E-Governance, E-Commerce and Logistics. We offer a world of convenience just around the corner. We are the “go-to-place” for everyday things. We make essential things and services accessible to every person across India.
Vakrangee Kendras have become the hubs for ordering, making payments, and delivering ordered products for Amazon. Among other E-Commerce services, these Kendras also deliver B2C digital services, such as the sale of mobile handsets and services, tickets for bus journeys, low-value gold jewellery and Mobile & Direct-To-Home recharge.
Our Financial Performance
Out-performance is embedded deeply into our DNA. Our performance this year and our strong position for future growth are deeply rooted in a proven strategy focused on creating long-term shareholder value. Our net sales stood at Rs.40,004.6 million in FY2017, as against Rs.31,907.4 million in the earlier fiscal year, registering a growth of 25.4%. EBITDA stood at Rs.9,512.9 million, up 15.1% as against Rs.8,263.9 million earlier. PAT grew by 34.5% at Rs.5,306.3 million, compared with Rs.3,944.8 million.
What an Exciting Year
FY2017 was an important year in our history as we focused on further stabilising our legacy business. We are proud of our remarkable journey and of having set a legacy of successfully developing our technological expertise and establishing our grassroot presence in every nook and corner of India to execute Mission Mode Projects of the Government.
We lived up to the promises we made to our stakeholders for the year. We achieved a “debt free” status with peak long-term debt of Rs.3,920 million w.e.f. January 5, 2017 and short-term debt of Rs.7,500 million w.e.f. May 30, 2017 We also stuck to our policy of maintaining our dividend pay-out in the range of 15% to 25% of Consolidated Profit After Tax. For FY2017, we declared a dividend of 200%, amounting to Rs.2 per equity share on a face value of Rs.1 each. The dividend pay-out amounted to 24.0% of PAT in FY2017, against 20.2% of PAT in FY2016.
Our pre-tax cash flow generation stood at Rs.9,617.2 million in FY2017. As promised, the Board has appointed a new Statutory Auditor, Price Waterhouse & Co., as our new Statutory Auditor from the year FY2018, subject to regulatory approvals.
In addition to this, what is equally pleasing is the progress recorded by the asset-light, franchisee-based business model of Vakrangee Kendras.
The network today consists of 35,206 such Kendras spread across 16 states of India, as on 31st March, 2017. These Kendras have essentially become multi-purpose “Convenience Stores”, and are located across urban, rural and “difficult to reach” rurban areas of India. We have partnered with the “best of breed” partners for each of these segments. In fact, the Company has emerged as a modern-day Convenience Store with a deep presence.
We also deliver real-time services across Banking & ATM, Insurance, E-Governance, e-Commerce, and Logistics. We leverage our technology-enabled platforms to offer a range of banking and financial products. This includes real-time paperless inter-operable banking, biometric enabled e-KYC services, and insurance plans across life, general and healthcare.
Our Central Theme - Vakrangee Kendras
Vakrangee is set to create the world’s largest franchisee-based distribution channel, offering millions of products and thousands of different services. In 2015, we declared a stated mission for setting up 75,000 Kendras by 2020, and eventually grow this number to cover each and every postal code of India. Of these, 50,000 Kendras will be in rural India, while the remaining 25,000 will be set up in urban India. As a key catalyst towards achieving this goal, Vakrangee has established an exclusive agreement with one of India’s largest commercial enterprises to set up as many new Vakrangee Kendras across 20,000 of its 25,000 fuel stations over the next 2-3 years. The Company is well on its way towards completing its 2020 vision, with a clear visibility of exceeding its target of 75,000 outlets.
Other Strategic Developments
The past year witnessed a slew of strategic developments in all our verticals. Our total number of Vakrangee Kendras has increased to 35,000 at the end of March 31st, 2017. Our assisted e-Commerce business model, in tie-up with Amazon India, is running on track with customers gaining access to a range of 100 million products. Till March 2017, these services were rolled out in more than 1,200 Kendras.
Our Kendras have been made active at 135 retail outlets of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), while 75 are under “Go Live” stage in the states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Delhi NCR. With 20,000 outlets of IOCL under our radar for setting up Kendras, the canvas is huge. Our association with IOCL will enable us expand our presence in urban India, besides enlarging our presence in rural India.
New Growth Drivers
During the year, we set another new milestone in our progress as we entered new territories, new states and geographies and identified new growth drivers. Encouraged by our first-hand pioneering successes, we are now entering a new era of self-development. We are moving beyond the 2020 horizon and expanding our canvas, exploring new opportunities for growth and value creation.
Firstly, our objective is to significantly deepen our physical presence on a larger scale. Our primary aim is to ensure there is a Vakrangee Kendra branch within walking distance of each citizen, no matter where he or she lives. We also plan to launch “Vakrangee Kendra on Mobile” This will literally bring all the benefits of a Vakrangee Kendra at the doorstep of every citizen. With an entrenched and deep logistics support for physical delivery and collection, these additional channels will become part of a more comprehensive ecosystem, making the Vakrangee Kendra network universally ubiquitous.
Secondly, we plan to offer an integrated and unified solution for all kinds of payment mechanisms, including Aadhaar Pay. This will enable consumers to easily make payments across multiple platforms.
Thirdly, we plan to significantly broaden our canvas of products and services offered. These include the addition of lead generation for loan products, Railway Ticket Booking, GST Registration and Return Fillings and new B2B E-Commerce solutions for trade customers looking for a more convenient buying experience.
Our strategy has been refined and our focus on performance and profitability is clear. Vakrangee Kendras aim to be the most trustworthy Physical as well as Online convenience-store across India. We promise to give every Indian their rightful access to a wide range of products and services, that are fairly priced and of high quality. We will keep expanding this network, until we are in close proximity to the last excluded person within the country.
We are well positioned to deliver on our commitment to stakeholders. We will grow and strengthen our core businesses, while exploring new revenue streams. Our strategy of adding new states, territories and states will continue.
To better serve our customers and to grow returns for our shareholders, we understand that we must continue to invest in our people and capability. This past year has seen a continuation of our mission to make Vakrangee a great company to work for. This means building deep leadership talent pipelines and investing to build capacity across all levels of the organisation in an environment that fosters high performance and high engagement across the workforce.
We have a dividend payout policy in the range of 15.0% to 25.0% of the consolidated Profit After Tax as dividend to our shareholders. We stand committed to create sustainable shareholder wealth for all our shareholders.
We wish to express our gratitude and appreciation to our employees, customers, partners and shareholders for their commitment, confidence and support.
We look forward to a prosperous FY2018.
Managing Director & CEO