Reliance Industries is the third owner of Trevira after it was, previously, owned by the Indonesian group called Multikasar and, later, by the Deutsche Bank Investor. Trevira was spun off as an independent polyester fibre making entity from the German group Hoechst.
Uwe Woehner, the chief executive of the Reliance-owned Trevira, spoke of the “enormous synergies” between Reliance Industries and Trevira. Both Reliance and Trevira, according to Woehner, are a “good fit because they speak the same language called polyester”. Reliance is with an annual production exceeding 1.7 million tons the world’s largest producer of polyester while Trevira with 150,000 tons of specialty manufacturer with an exclusive customer base.
Even on the cost front, Trevira tends to benefit from Reliance which, as an integrated chemicals group with its own refineries, can provide the entire supply chain.
“Yes, we have learnt a great deal from one another,” said Woehner in an interview in Frankfurt.
Asked to comment how the German employees were reacting to the Indian style of management since Trevira’s takeover by Reliance, Woehner replied that he knew India very well. “India is an interesting culture. However, there are differences in the management style but Germans have a pragmatic orientation. Despite the different styles, we work together in search of solutions and act accordingly. We share many common ideals and values, after all,” he added.
Woehner acknowledged that his Indian colleagues – Hemant Sharma, Trevira’s managing director, is a seasoned marketing man, who looks after Trevira’s marketing and other operations – were “very open and accommodating” to the German co-workers. “Our Indian colleagues understand that Germany is a different country and market while we, our part, have also learned a lot about India. Our approach is to listen to each other and move toward each other,” Woehner explained.
Meanwhile, the global economic downturn has also impacted Trevira’s business whose 2008 turnover declined to 325 million euros, down from 353 million euros in 2007.
The automobile industry, which is in a state of crisis and accounts for some 26% of Trevira’s turnover, is a major customer. Woehner described the short-term situation in the industry as “very critical” even though, he added, the European automobile industry was “not as badly hit as its American counterpart”. Trevira also supplies to hygiene industry (household paper towels, pampers for babies/small children, etc.) which, according to Woehner, was “hardly affected” by the crisis. Other major customers of Trevira include the fashion and capital goods which use the company’s products.
Giving his “frank views” about the crisis, Woehner stated that despite the optimistic mood, “it will take some time before things get to normal”. “You need optimism to move forward in a crisis,” he said.
But he predicted that things would improve not before the second half of the year. He expected consolidation to continue in the industry in the coming months.