What's in a name? Shakespeare asked. "That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."
With due respect to the great dramatist, today's brand builders would put high stakes on a name. So when the Aditya Birla Group acquired the cement division of L&T, a key task was to re-launch the products under a new brand name and yet assure the customer that product values such as quality and technological superiority remained unchanged. Towards this end, the new brand UltraTech Cement was launched across the major cities of India. UltraTech Cement replaces the brand name L&T Cement.
Announcing the launch of the new brand at a press conference, Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, UltraTech Cement Ltd, said, "Nothing has changed except the name. So, essentially, what was earlier L&T cement, now transforms into UltraTech Cement."
The name UltraTech was the outcome of an in-depth research conducted throughout the country. Said Mr. Birla, "We wanted to mirror the DNA of L&T Cement in the new brand name. Our research study indicated that in the customers' mind, L&T stood for quality, technology and expertise. The name UltraTech with the tag line 'The Engineer's Choice' aptly captures these features."
A campaign in the print and electronic media, as well as extensive use of banners, hoardings and other communication channels ensure that the brand is being strongly entrenched and that by March 2005, over 5,500 distributors and stockists, and 30,000 retailers across the country would be quick to recognise the new brand.
"Excellent product quality and customer care are the hallmark of UltraTech," emphasised Mr. Birla. UltraTech Cement continues to be manufactured in the erstwhile L&T cement division's state-of-the-art plants, which have now been acquired by the Aditya Birla Group. They are located in Gujarat (Kovaya and Jaffarabad) and Maharashtra (Awarpur) in western India, Chattisgarh (Hirmi) in central India and Andhra Pradesh (Tadipatri) in southern India.
The plants continue to be supported by the grinding units in West Bengal (Durgapur), Uttaranchal / Orissa (Jharsaguda), Tamil Nadu (Aarkonam), Gujarat (Magadalla) and Maharashtra (Ratnagiri), and the packing terminals at the western seaports of Mangalore in Karnataka and Mumbai in Maharashtra, and an overseas unit in Sri Lanka.
The business synergies between UltraTech Cement Ltd and the Aditya Birla Group have resulted in the creation of the eighth largest cement business globally. The two Companies have a combined manufacturing base exceeding 31 million tonnes per annum through 11 composite cement plants, 6 ready mix concrete plants, 7 split grinding units, 3 bulk terminals in India and 1 in Sri Lanka.
Since UltraTech Cement's plants complement those of Grasim Industries Ltd, the Group has strengthened its national positioning, with leadership in the cement industry in several states. The Aditya Birla Group is among the top three players in 17 states, which aggregate 75 per cent of the industry volumes.
For the quarter ended 30 September 2004, UltraTech Cement reported revenues of Rs. 587.8 crore with profit after taxes of Rs. 2.3 crore. The year-on-year growth in exports was 22 per cent.
"I believe UltraTech has the potential to grow at a faster pace than the market. Parallel to that, developing beachheads overseas through a profitable export business will continue to be a matter of great importance," Mr. Birla emphasised.
With the low per capita consumption of cement in India — 102 kg compared to the global average of 260 kg (China: 429 kg, Malaysia: 529 kg and South Korea: 951 kg) —- and the emphasis on infrastructure development, UltraTech has ample opportunity to ride the growth curve.