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Essar Steel thinks global

Calcutta, Sept. 17: Essar Steel plans to beef up its global presence by building distribution networks in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The company, which is expanding its steel capacity to 8 million tonnes by the end of this fiscal from 4.5 million tonnes, will open service centres in Africa and Latin America for local customers.

“We want to tap these markets, supplying steel either from our plant at Hazira in India or the Algoma plant in Canada,” Malay Mukherjee, chief executive officer of the Essar Steel business group, said.

The company is building a centre in the UAE to tap West Asia and another in Vietnam for the Southeast Asian market. It already has a service centre in the UK.

The Hazira plant is close to a port built by the Essar group, which has the capacity to handle 30 million tonnes of cargo.

“We are building a state-of-the-art plate mill here. We can export plates to these service centres in Africa,” he said.

The Latin American market, on the other hand, could be served from the Algoma plant in Canada.

Mukherjee, who joined Essar about a year ago after a successful stint at ArcelorMittal for 19 years, said the aim was to move up the value chain. “If we come out with high-quality products, there will be no dearth of buyers and we can compete in the global market too,” he said.

Hypermart launch

Mukherjee was in Calcutta on the occasion of the company opening its 100th hypermart in Ranchi.

Essar Hypermart, the retail initiative of Essar Steel, has sold 1.1 million tonnes of steel.

It aims 45 per cent growth in sales to 1.6 million tonnes in the current fiscal.

The company has opened 100 hypermarts and 419 expressmarts in the country, Essar Hypermart CEO Girish Rao said.

The plan is to expand to 126 hypermarts and 650 expressmarts by March 2011. Of this, 100 retail outlets would be in eastern India.

The market share of sales through these outlets is expected to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent in the east. The company has opened a hypermart in Sri Lanka.

According to Rao, Essar wants to enhance transparency in pricing for customers by offering a uniform price for its products across states through these retail outlets.

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