As the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of a leading express player, Blue Dart, I follow a very simple thumb rule - starting a month, quarter or year by assuming that it will be the most difficult one. This enables better planning and ensuring prudent measures. It is not what you do but what your planning strategy is that makes you a winner. After successfully weathering the 2008/09 economic slowdown, we encountered the slowdown of 2012/13 and managed to sail through successfully. Keeping the investment cycle, service quality and innovation ongoing was a result of starting from the worst so that you always land up with a good scenario. Remember if "Plan A" does not work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.
I enabled to broaden the strategic focus of the company from predominantly an Air Express to span across modes and transit times to become one window for all types of needs and products. The Ground Express foray has resulted in an increase in the market share from 8.5 per cent in 2009 to 13.2 per cent for the first quarter of 2012 with a compound annual growth of 39.1 per cent (from 2009 to 2011). Growth in earnings before interest and tax is in double digits. We also did a smart re-alignment of product mix to focus more on packages than documents. Without any dilution to the B2B business, which constitutes about 85 per cent of turnover, we aggressively championed the B2C segment. Our cash-on-delivery facility plays a major role in the B2C segment. We have also been able to achieve safe and timely remittance of cash-on-delivery money to our customers, which supports the cash flow needs of e-tailing companies.
I have been instrumental in giving directions on various cost-mitigating measures such as the fuel surcharge mechanism, reduction in working capital, renegotiations of real estate cost, and attractive long-term contracts during the slowdown. Amongst the various optimisation efforts undertaken, key ones have been the reduction of operating cost per move, operating cost per kg, cost per kg in both air and ground network, sweating of assets, better Return on Capital Employed, and others. Whilst staying focussed on cost, I have also propelled the organisation in the direction of innovation and sustainability through a renewed focus on the temperature-controlled logistics product, introduction of weight dimension labelling and on-the-move machines, smart truck, and leading the radio frequency identification project. The launch of carbon-neutral services is the first such domestic express service in South Asia.
We have seen the benefits of pre-empting and forecasting. Today, Blue Dart is a debt-free company. Capital expenditure, investment as well as working capital requirements are met through internal accruals. Various cost mitigating measures have borne rich fruits and enabled us to maintain our premium positioning in the Indian express industry.