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‘UP a strong, strategic investment market’

Harkirat Singh Managing Director, Aero Club (The makers and retailers of Woodland & WOODS).

lucknow Updated: Feb 21, 2018 16:24 IST
Rajeev Mullick
“UP has an added advantage because of its location. The government, too, has been strong and visionary enough to invite and ensure investments in the region.”
“UP has an added advantage because of its location. The government, too, has been strong and visionary enough to invite and ensure investments in the region.”(HT Photo)

Harkirat Singh hails from a family of industrialists and took over Woodland in 1989. Singh was always keen to take part in the family business since his tender age. He has done his Bachelors in Commerce from Hindu College, Delhi, a marketing course from Harvard Business School and further pursued Philology from Moscow University. On completion of his academics, he joined business full time concentrating on exports to Europe and the US.

Singh spoke to Rajeev Mullick about his plans of investment in UP and expectations from the summit. Some excerpts:

What are your expectations from upcoming UP Investors summit?

UP has always been a strong and strategic investment market for us for various reasons. It is very well connected to Delhi especially because of Noida and the Taj Expressway that lately added to the holistic offerings from the state. There is an easy availability of skilled labour. It is a strong base for leather and footwear market. A strong infrastructure has been created by the government while developing the Noida Extn/Greater Noida as an Industrial/Institutional hub. I feel the UP Investor Summit is a grand platform being provided by the state government to invite investments in the state. The aggressive plans of reshaping the state as an investment hub are encouraging.

How hopeful are you that state government will be able to gain confidence of investors to initiate business in the state?

As I mentioned above, UP has an added advantage because of its location. The government, too, has been strong and visionary enough to invite and ensure investments in the region in the interest of overall development of the state as well as getting employment opportunities for masses. We are very confident of the prospects and our existing base of over 15 ancillary units in the region re-assures our thought process.

With BJP governments both at centre and state, do you think it will boost the confidence of investors?

Our experience with multiple governments in UP in the past few decades has been very encouraging and our investment in the state over the last few decades suffice our thought-process. Having BJP to lead the state and the central government will certainly be an added advantage since this leads to seamless execution, since being the same party the thought process/manifesto for development remains uniform.

Is there any plan to acquire or take over some of the sick leather tanneries of Kanpur so that your company may procure raw material from Kanpur itself?

With our aggressive expansion plans for national retail footprint as well as International markets, we have been enhancing our production capabilities in our existing units as well as looking for newer units. Kanpur having a lot of potential, we are open to investments and await the right moment and deal. While options and discussions continue, we will share developments as and when some firm plan takes shape.

How much employment will it generate in the state?

Too early to comment, will be able to share only when any firm plan takes shape and we have a realistic deal/unit/manpower requirement size in place.

You have plant in Noida and Greater Noida. Are you thinking to establish some new plant in other parts of the state?

As I mentioned above, our aggressive expansion plans need us to keep increasing / improving our production capabilities. Our team is looking out for good deals based on location (state), connectivity, sourcing, manpower availability et al. In other words, we are open to investing as and when the right opportunity/deal is cracked.

What are your company’s investment plans in the state? How many showrooms will you open in the state?

Woodland has some 50 stores widely spread across the state of UP along with some 15 manufacturing facilities dominated towards the Noida / Greater Noida belt. We are planning to add at least 10 more retail outlets in the state along with strengthening our distribution and manufacturing network in the state.