Saint-Gobain, the 350-year-old French glass manufacturer, will be investing Rs 1,000 crore (135 million euro) in the next two years to expand capacity at its manufacturing facility in Sriperumbudur near Chennai. It will add a new float line and a Magnetron coater line at its 177-acre facility, which has, since its commissioning in 2000, grown to become an integrated world glass complex producing 1,500 tonnes of glass, and value added products such as automotive glass, fire safety glass, mirrors etc.
Speaking at a press conference announcing the investment, B Santhanam, president and MD, Flat Glass (South Asia, Malaysia & Egypt), said Saint Gobain has come a long way in India after it made a Rs 525-crore investment in 1999-2000 to set up its first green-field project at Sriperumbudur. The facility was set up to cater to the demand in South India but today it has grown to become the regional manufacturing hub for advanced products. Investment in this facility has since risen to over Rs 2,000 crore. Saint-Gobain has two other manufacturing facilities in India—Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) and Jhagadia (Gujarat). The company’s total investment in India so far is more than Rs 3,500 crore and its revenue from the country is a shade over Rs 5,000 crore.
The new investment, which is expected to be operation by 2018 and which will increase the plant’s capacity by 30 percent, will produce value-added products that will predominantly be exported. Saint-Gobain, Santhanam said, is another ‘Make in India’ success story. “Almost 98 percent of what is sold in India by us is made in India,” he said adding that exports from Chennai go to ASEAN nations, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. “We make in India for India and the rest of the world.”
The 38 billion euro company is also using India as a hub for innovation. It is soon expected to inaugurate its 7th Global and Transversal Research and Development Centre in Chennai. Set up at a cost of Rs 250 crore, it will work on finding solutions for hot and humid countries such as India, Middle East and the ASEAN members. Saint-Gobain is rated among the top 100 innovative companies in the world. It has more than 6,500 operating patents and employs 3,700 scientists. As much as one in four products it sells today has been developed in the last five years.
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