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Pius Thomas, ED (Finance), Page Industries
Pius Thomas, the low-profile finance chief of Page Industries, belies the premium innerwear maker's flagship Jockey brand that has grown aggressively over the past few years.
Under his stewardship, the company's sales and profit have grown at a quick pace in the past couple of years even as a sharp economic slowdown has adversely impacted companies across sectors.
Page Industries, the exclusive licensee of premium innerwear brand Jockey, posted 26 per cent growth in sales to Rs 863.46 crore in 2012/13. Net profit also jumped by a fourth to Rs 112.53 crore. The pace accelerated in 2013/14, with sales surging 36 per cent to Rs 1,173 crore and net profit growing 37 per cent to Rs 154 crore. The company's market value has also soared. It listed on the bourses in 2007 at a share price of Rs 360 and is now valued close to Rs 8,600 crore with its shares hovering above Rs 7,700.
Thomas says the company's biggest challenge since the mid-1990s was to build Jockey into a successful brand. Sunder Genomal, Managing Director, Page Industries, concurs. "Our category has historically been a low-profile, low-involvement category among consumers and the trade," he told Business Today via email. Genomal is one of four brothers whose family, settled in the Philippines, acquired the first Jockey franchise in 1958.
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Another challenge for Page Industries, says Thomas, is remaining cost competitive especially because its business is labour intensive (the company employs 16,200 people). "I get my profit and loss account every month. I go through it each month and ensure that all overheads are in check," he says. Thomas also says the company ensures it introduces new products almost every year that are different in materials and design. This helps the company maintain its leadership position. "The challenge for us is to cover the market end to end, so that there is no demand for a competitor to enter," he adds.