As he exits India's leading business conglomerate, Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata said on Monday India's difficult economic environment will most likely continue in the next year but its growth will be reestablished after the present 'passing phase'.
Tata, who turned 75 on Friday and retired after half-a-century run in the organisation, 21 years of it as Chairman, also asked his colleagues in a farewell letter to show their 'support', 'commitment' and 'dedication' to achieve success in these somewhat difficult times.
In the letter, Tata, who has been appointed Chairman Emeritus and passes on the baton to 44-year-old Cyrus Mistry, told the employees to live by the 'value systems and ethical standards on which our group was founded'.
"The difficult economic environment that we face in the current year will most likely continue through most of the next year.
"We will probably see continued constraints in consumer demand, over-capacity and increased competition from imports," he said.
Tata said there will therefore be great pressure on Tata companies to reinvent themselves in terms of business processes and to dramatically reduce costs, to be more aggressive in the market place and to widen their product range to better address consumer needs.
"We will also need to contain our borrowings and work hard to retain our margins. This environment would once again call on you for your support, your commitment and your dedication to achieve success in these somewhat difficult times," he said.
Tata said the seemingly gloomy picture, however, will be a passing phase.
"I feel confident that the robust growth that India has shown over the past several years will be re-established and the strong fundamentals in the country will result in India once again taking its place as one of the economic success stories of the region," he said.
Tata said the group will undoubtedly play an important role in the continued development of India, providing leadership in various industrial segments in which they operate and living by the value systems and ethical standards on which our Group was founded.
"The future growth of the group will be led in the coming years by Cyrus Mistry. I am sure that he will receive from you the same support, the same commitment and the same understanding that I have enjoyed over the years," Tata said.
He drew attention to the fact that the Tata group is today a $100 billion Group in terms of revenues.
"Over the past 20 years our revenues have grown about 20 times and today 58 per cent come from overseas operations.
"Our brand has emerged as the 45th global and the number one Indian brand.
"Our products and services are present in 85 countries. We therefore have every reason to feel proud and feel confident in facing the challenges ahead," he said.
The 144-year-old group employs over 450,000 people worldwide in its over 100 operating companies.
Tatas are a group where he felt proud to have belonged and proud to have been associated through the years, Tata added.
"I wish the group, Cyrus Mistry and each of you great success in the years ahead. I hope the group grows and shines in the coming years," he said, concluding his message, which he said he was writing the last time prior to his retirement.
"I want to convey to you how privileged I have been to have had the opportunity of leading this great group over the last two decades through good times and bad," he said.
Acknowledging the contribution of the employees in the success of the group, he said: "Whatever has been achieved has only been possible because of the amazing spirit, the dedication of each one of you and the enormous support and faith reposed in me, for which I am deeply grateful and appreciative.
"I feel immensely proud of the manner in which the employees and the companies have come together in facing crises from time to time."
He said the crises included adverse market conditions, natural calamities like earthquakes and tsunamis and gruesome acts of terrorism.
"The memories of personal sacrifices, loyalty and individual acts of heroism will always remain in my memory, to reinforce the great sense of pride I have in having been a member of this team," Tata said in an apparent reference to the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, in which the group's Taj Mahal Hotel was one of the prime targets.
Image: Ratan Tata