I had read about Ratan Tata many times in Newspapers. My quest to know more about Tata began when my husband had bought a Tata Indica Vista car back in 2011. I asked him why he chose Tata car only to which he replied ” It is manufactured by Tata. It is an Indian car. Tata is doing good for our country and we should support him.” Thats when I thought I should learn more about Till date, we do buy as many products of Tata in the market as we can.
The story of the Tata group and Ratan Tata over the past 20 years is one of growth and competition, productivity and efficiency gains, and globalization and innovation. The Tata story is replete with run-ins with the establishment and the political opposition, and failures and frustrations. And, in some ways, it is the story of India itself, only with a happier ending.
Ratan Tata’s two decades as chairman of Tata Sons was a period of expansion for the 144-year-old group. His appointment in 1991 came just a few months before India announced its first major liberalisation of the economy, and Mr. Tata took full advantage. Under his leadership, the group multiplied its overall sales by 43 times and also became one of the first Indian companies to make major overseas acquisitions. It bought iconic U.K. brand Jaguar-Land Rover as well as European steelmaker Corus Group PLC.
As the 75-year-old Tata patriarch hangs up his boots, India Real Time takes a look at his hits, and some misses.
One of Mr. Tata’s chief goals was to make his conglomerate a major player on the global stage.
Even during his last two months at the helm of Tata Sons, hotel unitIndian Hotels Ltd. made a strong pitch to acquire U.S.-based Orient Express Hotels The deal hasn’t come through yet.
The group’s other notable overseas deals include:
2000 – Tata Tea (now Tata Global Beverages) acquires Tetley group, the U.K’s largest tea company.
2004 – Tata Motors buys Daewoo Motors’ heavy vehicle unit in South Korea
2005 – Tata Steel acquires Singapore-based NatSteel
2007- Tata Steel takes control of Anglo-Dutch steel giant Corus Group PLC
2008 – Tata Motors acquires Jaguar and Land Rover brands
2012 – Tata Global Beverages helps open India’s first Starbucks outlet as part of a joint venture.
While Tata is one of India’s most well-known brands, it trails behind top Asian multinationals such as Samsung and LG Electronics.
“True globalization would require a combined resource pool, an integrated supply chain and diverse management,” says Kavil Ramachandran, the head of the research chair on family business at the Indian School of Business.
Small car, big dream
Ratan Tata said he would make a 100,000 rupee ($1,800) car and he delivered. In 2008, the first Nano — the world’s cheapest car — was revealed to the public.
This came after Tata Motors introduced the Indica — the first car truly developed and built in India.
Nano was envisioned as a safe and comfortable alternative for millions of Indian families who use motorcycles because they can’t afford a car. And sales targets were sky high.
There was a frenzy to book the Nano initially, but customers had to wait as violent protests against land acquisition forced Tata to shift its Nano plant to Gujarat from West Bengal state.
Although Tata Motors has now given a renewed push to the Nano, its sales slipped early because of teething problems and reports of some cars catching fire. A perception that it was a “poor man’s car” didn’t help its sales in big cities.
The Tata group owned a stake in the Central Bank of India before the lender — together with 13 others — was taken over by the government in the late 1960s.
When India reopened the banking sector to private companies in the 1990s, the Tata group didn’t apply for a license.
But it formed Tata Capital, which now offers a wide range of financial products. The group also has life and general insurance ventures.
Tata Capital recently said it is considering applying for a banking permit.
The Taj Attack
The Tatas run the successful Taj group of hotels, spread across India as well as abroad.
It was in the news in 2008, when on the night of Nov. 26, heavily armed militants laid siege to Mumbai.
They stormed the Tata group’s Taj Mahal Palace hotel – a 100-year-old icon of India’s financial capital — and killed guests and staffers.
Mr. Tata stood outside the hotel, helping evacuate guests and employees.
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