Almost a year after separating from Honda Motor Co. Ltd, Hero MotoCorp Ltd intends to grow globally. The company sold more than six million motorcycles and scooters in 2011, the most by any manufacturer in the world. Pawan Munjal, chief executive and managing director, and Sunil Munjal, joint managing director, spoke separately to Mint on a range of issues. Edited excerpts:

What was going through your mind a year ago, when you were planning to take Hero Group on a new journey? What has been your experience?

Pawan Munjal: The Hero group together with Honda had a great 27 years of the joint venture which all of us have benefited from.

Going global: Pawan Manjul of Hero MotoCorp (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

Two core issues which were actually in our minds for a few years, that actually sort of induced us to go forward and have a chat with our partners. Take the brand global because we believe that India is ready to go global and we have the capability in our engineers and our technicians that we can develop new technologies, new products and take them around the globe and not just be a domestic player. Earlier the world had expected us to sell out. We, instead, bought out. And since then, it has been all about speed at Hero. Within just eight months of our decision to go solo, we acquired a brand new identity, even when we had the option to carry on with our erstwhile brand, which was already established, till june 2014. And then came the Hum mein hai hero theme song which captured the imagination of the entire nation.

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Watch Sunil Kant Munjal outline Hero MotoCorp’s strategy for the current year and how the company is exploring emerging markets in a bid to take its business international

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Sunil Munjal: It has been an interesting and exciting adventure. Fortunately for us, all our experiences post the partition have been good.

What are the challenges that the company is facing right now?

Sunil Munjal: There are clearly challenges for the company, and those challenges are well-known. First is to bring our own product. Second is to go out and set up our distribution globally and third to replace the brand, which was already one of the most established brands in the country. In some ways, the journey has started in all three. In fact, the company got awarded for the best brand transition and also the fastest brand transition in Asia. On the international market front, there is active work going in various companies at this moment. We will soon be announcing where we are actually going in the first few markets apart from the few markets we are already in. On the new products capability, the company already had the capability to do new variants and modifications of the existing products. The new product capabilities are actively under development.

What is your strategy for 2012?

Pawan Munjal: Let me tell you, we have no intention of resting on our laurels. The launches that you see today are not just new products, these models reflect my company’s intent and vision for the future and a clear strategy to further consolidate our leadership position. We have a positive outlook towards the new year as we anticipate our forward looking plans to take shape both in the domestic and overseas markets.

Sunil Munjal: At this moment as you saw the company just announced plans to launch three new products. We are hoping to continue to launch a slew of new products as the company has done every year for the past three years. We have been fortunate the response in the market has been good.

Sunil Munjal of Hero MotoCorp

We are looking forward to 10-12% growth, we will match the two-wheeler industry average. The market looks quite uncertain due to the current macro-economic environment. Environment that is more conducive to growth is expected in the second half of 2012.

How do you plan to take your international business forward?

Sunil Munjal: No specifics at this moment, we will share the specifics when we are ready but we have been looking at markets globally and clearly the markets are the emerging markets across the world, which by themselves are very large but each one of them is unique. So current focus is to try to figure out which is the market we want to go first.


You have always been in the commuter sector, are you shifting the focus on the premium bikes sector?

Sunil Munjal: We have seen the company launch a completely new set of products. The Impulse which was launched was on a completely new segment that did not exist until we introduced the new product.

There are niche markets in this country and gradually as the market is evolving and the economy is developing these markets are growing, as a company since we have always stayed with the market, we have actually led the market, we hope to continue to do that.

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