Spykar, the largest and the most popular Indian jeanswear brand today announced its alliance as an “Associate Partner” with Global Citizen India (GCI), the social action platform that is motivating young people in India to take action on the biggest challenges that are facing our communities today. Given Spykar's vision to mobilize youth to take action and influence dialogue in support of the sustainable development goals, the brand is excited about being the partner to the Global Citizen Festival India.The spirit of the association stems from the convergence of awareness of social causes, love for music,and fashion – elements that resonates perfectly with the young patrons of Spykar.
Spykar will donate merchandise worth 20% of the sales to the two NGOs; Swayamsiddh, that works towards empowering differently abled children and Shelter Don Bosco, enabling street kids and young adults to lead a better life.
Speaking about the association Mr. Sanjay Vakharia, (COO, Spykar) says, “It is truly inspiring that millions of young Indians are becoming the catalyst of change–which will have an immense impact on changing the world for the better. At Spykar we have always believed in the power of the youth and are delighted to be associated with the Global Citizen India.”
Nearly half a million Indian youth have already taken action through the Global Citizen platform, a social-focused movement that harnesses the immense power of social media to amplify the voice of young Indiato make it heard across government, in private corporations and non-governmental organisations and among the youth population of the country as a whole.
Global Citizen India comprises a distinctive mix of events, grassroots activism, media campaigning and online activation, to catalyse India’s 15-year journey towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and to bring about the end of extreme poverty. In its first year it will concentrate on the three turnkey issues of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Quality Education and Gender Equality.
The inaugural Global Citizen Festival India will be held in Mumbai on 19 November 2016 and will be headlined by Coldplay, JAY Z, Aamir Khan, Arjun Kapoor, A.R. Rahman, Arijit Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Dia Mirza, Farhan Akhtar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Katrina Kaif, Malaika Arora Khan, Monali Thakur, Parineeti Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Sakshi Malik, Shah Rukh Khan, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Shraddha Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha and Vijender Singh.
Several mega brands back Coldplay for greater good
In spite of political opposition to the Global Citizen Festival, India’s upcoming mega event here, brands seems to be reposing their faith in this live event which will see British band Coldplay perform on the Indian soil for the first time.
Several brands are creating the right noise to attract young audiences to the one-day event which will commences on 19th November. Brands like Viacom18, MakeMyTrip, Spykar are among those who are putting their might behind the event.
Travel firm MakeMyTrip is the official travel partner. It has partnered with Jann Projects Pvt Ltd, organisers of the GCFI for the same.
Others like Spykar which has come on board as the associate sponsor says event will be platform to connect with the youth. “Youth nowadays are close to social issues and this helps us in reaching out to our core target audience,” Sanjay Vakharia, COO, Spykar Lifestyle told Business Line. This is the second mega such association for Spykar after it associated with IPL in the last season.
GCFI is a one-day festival which serves as a tool to raise awareness and drive engagement; mobilizing people to get involved and act towards resolving global challenges outlined by the United Nations at a local level. Coldplay’s lead singer Chris Martin was signed on last year as the curator of Global Citizen’s music festivals for 15 years.
Bhavya Bishnoi, spokesperson, Global Citizen India said, “The response to our event is overwhelming from event partners. Our ticket contest had received response from 14 million unique visitors. Besides it is heartening to see corporates come forward to support a social cause.”
GCFI’s tickets are selling anywhere between ₹5,000 and ₹4 lakh as per market estimates.
The tickets are earned through actions by first signing up on the websites. Participants can earn rewards with various actions. The contest required 26 actions to gain entry.
The actions are tracked through the Global Citizen online platform and mobile app. Once a participant takes an action, for example signing a petition, the points are registered to their Global Citizen profile. Through the mobile app, we are able to track, with the same technology, when a participant makes a call to their representative’s office.
Free tickets Bishnoi said that 80 per cent of its tickets were free and only 20 per cent were sold. While Bishnoi did not specify the amount raised either through ticketing or sponsorships, he said GCI is already mulling to take the festival to other cities seeing the response from corporate stakeholders. “Every metro city has a potential even though it is still difficult to monetise from the event”.
Interestingly, the first two phases in which the ticket sales for the Global Citizen Festival India 2016 were opened for online booking are now sold out.
Online ticketing firm BookMyShow had in September which had opened its ticket counter to the public with the limited tickets priced at ₹5000 each too said that the tickets were sold out in few hours.
Hitesh Gosain, Founder and CEO, Onspon said, “Globally entertainment and sports account for the highest sponsorships. A high velocity music event typically can attract sponsorships anywhere between ₹5 and ₹15 crore.”
Spykar bags 3 awards for the Blue Film Festival (BFF) Campaign at the Indian Content Marketing Awards(ICMA), conducted by Exchange4Media
In all, 35 metals were given away along with the Jury Choice Award which went to DB Corp Ltd., the Young Gun of Content, which went to OgilvyOne Worldwide’s Unnati Shah and the Platinum Award, which was awarded to Mindshare India.
In the world of marketing, content has definitely changed the way marketers present their brands to consumers. As more and more brands choose creative content for engaging with their consumers, the need to stand out increases every minute. Indian Content Marketing Awards aim to promote and recognise the talent, expertise and hard work that go into cracking breakthrough ideas and concepts to create exceptional brand stories.
Mindshare ended up with the most metals, including, apart from the Platinum Award, 2 Gold metals, 8 Silver metals and 2 Bronze metals. This was followed by Spykar Lifestyles, Carat India and ZenithOptimedia with 3 metals each. Spykar won 2 Gold metals and 1 Silver metal, while ZenithOptimedia won 1 Silver and 2 Bronze and Carat India won 2 Gold metals, while Carat Isobar won 1 Bronze metal. Reliance General Insurance also won 2 Gold metals.
The energy, exuberance & the style the team exudes resonates well with the newly launched RPS- Spykar line.
Mindshare won Gold for ‘Chamki-Help A Child Reach 5’ for HUL and ‘Changing the Canvas- from 30 sec to 68640 sec’ for Kellogg India. Spykar Lifestyles won 2 Gold metals for its ‘Blue Film Festival’ campaign. Reliance General Insurance also won 2 Gold metals for its ‘Dark Travel Tales’ campaign. Carat India won a Gold for its ‘TGIF- Thank GOD its Fryday!’ for Philips India and another one for ‘Philips Hawa Aan De’. The other Golds were given to DB Corp for Dainik Bhaskar’s ‘No Negative Monday, PHD Media for HUL’s ‘Rin Career Ready Academy’ and Godrej Industries for ‘There's Something About Content’ for Godrej Masterbrand.
Spykar and Rising Pune Supergiants Collection Unveiled
Spykar, the largest and most popular Indian jeans wear brand is amidst an incredibly exciting moment this year. The Brand is associated with the Rising Pune Supergiants, the new IPL team led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the seasons – 2016 and 2017
The team of Rising Pune Supergiants unveiled the special Spykar RPS line in Delhi at ITC, Maurya recently. The joining of hands of cricket and fashion amidst fashion connoisseurs of the industry, the Brand patrons, designers – was truly a spectacular event!!
An adventurous denim moment begins this season with Spykar- RPS De-structured range.The entire range features casual rips, fraying, coloured wefts and rugged textures that have a flamboyant streak which is tasteful. The collection delivers an individualistic approach, a contemporary appeal with its signature finish – the ripped & repaired denims are bold & definite-to-impress style, this summer.
Ajinkya Rahane has been nominated for the Arjuna award, when asked about his reaction over the same he said “Spykar is extremely lucky for me. With this I really hope that the nomination that BCCI has recommended turns out to be in my favour. This has given me a new enthusiasm to work hard in future”
The energy, exuberance & the style the team exudes resonates well with the newly launched RPS- Spykar line.
Speaking about the launch Mr. Sanjay Vakharia, (COO- Spykar) says, “We are extremely excited to partner with the IPL team Rising Pune Supergiant for the launch. The collection promises to deliver the commitment of the brand and we are extremely glad to put on a show that creates a mark in the jeans wear industry this year too.
The RPS team is an unusual blend of power and poise. Not to forget, it is led by the man himself, M.S. Dhoni. Apart from being a youth icon, Dhoni is a style icon today. He commands respect from the youth like no other. Thus, this association with RPS will definitely prove to be a rewarding one and could be pivotal in bolstering the strong foothold that Spykar already has in the world of jeans wear.
The deal is a strategic win for both the parties in the arrangement. Spykar addresses the ever dynamic Indian youth market while RPS is a team of young, focused & revered players with great attitude, strength & passion for the sport.”
Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Raghu Iyer, CEO of RISING PUNE SUPERGIANTS said, “We are extremely glad to partner with Spykar. We have a strong team which has high potential, similar to brand attributes of Spykar – which is synonymous with the youth of this Country. The RPS Spykar collection is definitely a trend setter for the season.”
Spykar to be associate sponsor of Rising Pune Supergiants
AHEMDABAD: Indian jeanswear maker Spykar will be the associate sponsor of Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Pune Supergiants Indian Premier League team, owned by RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, for 2016 and 2017 seasons.
The team jersey will sport Spykar logo on the back.
"Having established firmly in the metros and tier 1 markets, Spykar has started looking at consolidating its business in the tier 2 and tier 3 markets since the last few years. There could not be any vehicle better than the IPL," said Spykar's chief operating officer Sanjay Vakharia.
is one of the few sporting events which cut across the entire spectrum of towns and cities, and audiences as well, Vakharia said. "IPL has a huge fan following among women too - striking a chord with Spykar's newly launched women's collection," he said.
Close to 80% denim buying decisions influenced by quality: IMRB
Commissioned by Spykar Lifestyles, the IMRB study looked at understanding consumers better in terms of knowing their attitude to the denim jeans category as well as brand health and brand perceptions in relative context.
"The company experiments a great deal on new styles and accessories, making them trendy and accessible to the Indian consumer. With good growth in the denim industry and their own expansion plans in the pipeline, Spykar felt the need to understand the branded jeans owner in order to gauge the potential to target them and what it would take to target them," Sanjay Vakharia, COO, Spykar Lifestyles Pvt. Ltd. said.
The market research by IMRB and Spykar on denims in country was conducted amongst 16-35 years old branded denim wearers in 10 cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Patna, Ludhiana, Guwahati, Indore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Pune.
The research found that close to 3/4th or 72% of the sample population associate jeans with casual wear. As per the study, despite fashion dynamics, denim jeans have been able to retain the evergreen status for the majority.
Further, it was found that people shop for casual wear in multi-branded outlets (MBOs) the most followed by exclusive branded outlets (EBOs).
"Spykar's presence across 1100+ MBOs, 200 EBOs & its focus on further expansion in these two formats would work in favour of the brand. Spykar is positioned at number three as the most recommended brand, following after Levis and Lee, which is a compliment for the brand when an array of international brands is foraying in the Indian market," said Vakharia.
The research also found that in the fashion segments, the fashion population in India are categorized into 7 uniquely distinctive fashion perceptions. Out of the 7 segments identified, higher affinity to Spykar has been observed in 3 of the segments. Some of these segments included Segment A which, at 27.8% of the sample population, saw denim jeans being seen as synonymous with being fashionable and one to be flaunted on social occasions.
Segment B, 20.3%, comprised of consumers with heightened sense of fashion along with a need to look trendy who were very particular about how they dress. On the other hand, Segment D, at 12.8%, saw jean playing an important role in helping them make a fashion statement on social occasions, with special effects in jeans being one of the ways of portraying themselves as fashionable. Such consumers would follow others who they regard as fashionable, including celebrities.
"To sum up, about 61% of the branded denim wear users have a higher inclination towards Spykar despite of minimal media presence in the last few years," Vakharia added while commenting on the results.
The company, which in the last two years fought a downturn in the industry, streamlined its finances and went through consolidation, said it had managed to rebuild the brand and was ready to take the competition head on. "The downturn in the industry affected the company. There was a shortage of working capital, we were also launching another brand and everything coincided. It took us two years to get back on track," said Sanjay Vakharia, chief operating officer, Spykar Lifestyles.
Non-resident Indian businessman Apurv Bagri acquired a controlling stake in Spykar last year. The company since then has stepped up the pace of opening stores. Vakharia said the new stores would be a mix of malls and high street outlets.
"Spykar has weeded out a number of non-performing outlets. We are constantly making an effort to get the best out of our stores. The ones that were not doing well were shut down. The year started with 170 stores and by the end of 2015 we will have 201," Vakharia added.
Spykar expects to grow its revenue by over 30 per cent in 2015-16 and is looking to clock upwards of Rs 250 crore. It may also look at acquiring other brands. The company expects to spend about 8 per cent of its revenue on marketing and branding activities. And it is targeting around 6 per cent sales from the online segment in 2015-16.
India readies itself for its first 'Blue Film Festival'
Ad agency Scarecrow and denim brand Spykar have put together 'India's first blue film festival'. But unfortunately for some, it isn't quite what they would assume it to be. For this year's Autumn Winter' collection, Spykar has dyed its denim a shade of indigo and is using the Blue Film Festival digital campaign to promote this collection.
Said Sanjay Vakharia, COO Spykar Lifestyles, "For this year's Autumn Winter Collection, we used Indigo-dyed fabric that fades with every wash, revealing a new blue every time and decided to call it the Blue Collection. We wanted to come up with an unconventional catalogue that every young person will love to go through, and will also resonate with Spykar's quirky, edgy and innovative brand personality."
The campaign is aimed at the millennial generation who are perceived to be open-minded, liberal, expressive, upbeat and passionate. The campaign's microsite (http://www.bluefilmfestival.com) has a series of cheeky videos that reveal a new nuance of the denim. In fact, despite 'blue films' being associated with sleaze, the brand claims that their catalogue films are provocative yet classy.
Says Manish Bhatt, founder director at Scarecrow Communications said, "Sorry ladies and gentlemen of this cultured nation, sorry mothers and dads who regularly check their children's Facebook walls, sorry moral police, sorry local authorities, sorry censor board and sorry all the sanskari people (including Alok Nath). It was great fun playing a nationwide prank with the youth of India. What better way to grab their eyeballs and make them browse through the video catalogue of Spykar's new Autumn-Winter '15 Blue Collection, other than compiling them under the name of 'Blue Film Festival'?"
The brand says that the campaign received the desired eyeballs on the first day itself. Twitter was abuzz with #BlueFilmFestival trending at no. 1 in India. Apart from YouTube, Twitter and the website, the campaign also has a leg on Facebook. (https://www.facebook.com/BlueFilmFestival)
MUMBAI: Homegrown denim maker Spykar Lifestyles will launch e-commerce platform spykar.com for its merchandise and expects up to 6 per cent of sales to come from the online segment in financial year 2015-16.
"We are launching our own e-commerce portal... expect (to) integrate our offline and online presence over the next couple of years," Sanjay Vakharia, Chief Operating Officer of Spykar Lifestyles told PTI.
The denim maker, which has positioned itself as a "premium fashion wear brand for casual dressing", has had a long standing association with the youth.
Vakharia said they "would continue to be the company's target audience".
As a fall-out, up to 5 per cent of sales come from online marketplaces.
The company is looking to organically grow its customers, initially drawing traction from its social media fanbase.
"We have over 4.5 lakh fans on social media, and will use this digital fan base to promote our online venture," he added.
The company has 200 offline outlets, and is targetting to open about 50 outlets annually on an average for the next 3 to 4 years.
Spykar has about 65 exclusive stores in the pipeline for financial year 2015-16 across the country, Vakharia had said earlier.
The company expects to grow its revenues by over 30 per cent for financial year 2015-16 if its marketing initiatives are "on target" and is looking to clock a revenue "upwards of Rs 250 crore", he added.
The success journey of Metdist: Key catalyst in Spykar
When a 19-year-old man with a high fever turned up after 10pm at a private club in Penang and asked for a meeting with one of its members, he was unsure what kind of reception he would receive. Exhausted from travelling from Calcutta and having contracted typhoid en route, his pitch – to the head of a Malaysian tin producer – might have fallen on deaf ears. But persistence paid off, and the young man returned to India with a major deal under his belt. This would be the first of many successes for Raj Bagri, later to become Lord Bagri CBE and the longest-serving chairman of the London Metal Exchange, a role he humbly says he remains "always grateful for". Lord Bagri CBE Yet it is a career that might not have been. Bagri started work as a filing clerk for a metals firm in Calcutta only because his mother wanted him to
‘The great thing about the metals trade and industry is the way in which it quite literally grows on you’
understand the value of money. More than 65 years later, it would be fair to say that his involvement in the metals arena makes Bagri one of its modern day champions. “The great thing about the metals trade and industry is the way in which it quite literally grows on you, and over the years my work became a passion,” he tells Metal Bulletin Magazine. For Bagri, who was born in 1930 to a middle-class family and lost his father when he was just three, his love affair with metals began when he was apprenticed to Metal Distributors, a Binani family company. Then 15 years old, Bagri threw himself into devouring all the information he could glean about the world of metals, including warehousing, sales, marketing and purchasing. It was during this period that Bagri became convinced there was a better way to source the Malaysian-
produced tin his company was buying via third parties based in London. After weeks of pestering, Bagri’s bosses authorised that life-changing trip to Penang. Bagri was hooked. In his mid-20s, he persuaded his bosses to send him on a trip to source business around the world. It included his first trip to London, but not his last; Bagri spent the next few years hatching a plan to help his bosses build out their business in London, the heart of global metals trade and home to the LME. All he needed to do was to persuade them to let him realise his vision. Eventually they agreed. Bagri, newly married to his wife Usha, set off with a £2,000 corporate budget and set up a metals trading firm, Metal Distributors (UK). “In my early days in the metals industry I was struck by how even the most powerful of personalities were willing to mentor, help
and guide a novice such as myself,” Bagri says. “I was hugely fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from many of them and they in turn helped modify and shape my interest in the metals business. They encouraged me to think further and dream of doing things that a few years earlier I would have thought were impossible,” he adds. One of those dreams included becoming a member of the LME. Unfortunately, Indian foreign exchange controls at the time, together with other barriers, prevented Metal Distributors from joining the LME. So Bagri set up Metdist as his own firm, running it alongside Metal Distributors for another decade, and joined the exchange. Bagri describes the day Metdist became a Ring Dealing member of the exchange in February 1970 as one of the highs of his career. “Having waited ten years to join the LME, Metdist became one of the first two overseas members of the exchange in 1970. It is difficult to imagine today the effort and tenacity required to persuade the LME to make the change and having opened the door to foreign membership, it is rewarding to observe such a varied international membership today,” Bagri says. “For someone of humble origins and very modest means, gaining the trust of the metals community and becoming a Ring Dealing member was a milestone, an event that I still remember today,” he adds.
Rogue Trader Challenges
There have been far more highs than lows through Bagri’s metals career, but there have nonetheless been lows. “Coming to London and setting up a business with no funds, while now a ‘low’, was certainly one of the more challenging times in my career,” he says. “A real low was the Sumitomo crisis and the financial loss and reputational damage it did to a market that I felt proud to be a member of,” he adds. Bagri was chairman of the LME when the global metals industry was shaken in 1996 by the declaration of $2.6 billion losses by
‘For someone of humble origins and very modest means, gaining the trust of the metals community and becoming a Ring Dealing member was a milestone’
Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, caused by a rogue trader in its copper department. Many predicted the event would substantially damage, or even destroy, the LME. That same year, the Securities and Investment Board gave the LME a clean bill of health after accepting its invitation to review the exchange post-Sumitomo, an event that Bagri describes as a ‘rewarding moment’. “To receive regulatory endorsement of the LME’s unique modus operandi allowed the valuable and different facilities afforded by LME brokers to the trade and industry, such as credit, to continue,” he adds. That endorsement is widely attributed to be the result of tireless work by Bagri, whose hands-on guidance, unwavering belief in the exchange and dedication to the metals world he loved is credited to the LME emerging unscathed and, remarkably, a stronger market. “Major corporations, despite or maybe because of the complexity of their systems and controlled processes, are as vulnerable as small ones to unauthorised trading or even potential systematic fraud. Human behaviour, even in a well-regulated environment, will always depend on the individual decisions of a small group of people and if they choose to circumvent the system the result can often be quite catastrophic in terms of financial and reputational damage,” he says. “What good regulation can and does do is reduce the likelihood of such events and hopefully provide a framework in which, when things do go wrong, shocks can be managed and absorbed by the system without significant dislocation,” he adds. Could such an event reoccur? “History pre- and post- the Sumitomo crisis, in many different markets, has demonstrated the difficulties for corporations to administer fool-proof systems to eradicate rogue trader events,” he tells Metal Bulletin Magazine. “There is no doubt that lessons have been learnt by international trading organisations and within the regulatory framework, and
that regulatory, compliance and monitoring systems have been substantially enhanced. However, it would be a brave man that forecast that rogue traders were confined to history,” he adds.
A Changing Landscape
Throughout his career, Bagri – who served as an LME board director from 1983, LME Vice-Chairman from 1990 and LME Chairman from 1993 to 2002 – has never been afraid to move with the times. His approach to change evolved over time, he says, engineered from practical business experiences. “My philosophy is simple: change is a vital part of a business evolving and staying ahead of its competitors, whether in manufacturing, trading or in the context of an exchange such as the LME. However, change for change’s sake rarely delivers value,” he adds. “A static organisation is one that is almost certainly bound to fail. I feel strongly that change allows for renewal and that renewal is the catalyst for growth,” he says. “As a family we embrace change in the way we manage our businesses and activities, and the generation of new ideas is at the heart of a vibrant and growing exercise. The LME’s origins and history helped create the most dynamic and important futures market in metals in the world. However, I and colleagues recognised that embracing change would be key if this success was to be maintained and reinforced,” he adds. Demutualisation of the LME in 2000 was a necessary part of this process, Bagri says: “A difficult decision for many LME members, but one I hope they now have come to see as being crucial in that the market has been able to unlock shareholder value whilst maintaining the pre-eminent position it enjoyed.” An event which changed the foundations of the LME, demutualisation in September 2000 transferred the market from a cooperative-style structure to a private shareholder-owned exchange, which in turn
accelerated the market’s modernisation and ensured its continued growth. In 2012, the LME was sold to Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing for £1.388 billion. “In helping the Exchange demutualise, I always knew that this was the first step in a process that would end up with it being a for-profit organisation. To me this always made sense simply because I never saw a contradiction between market efficiency and a for-profit objective, with both mutually reinforcing each other,” he says. “Thinking about the Exchange today, it is good to see that it remains hugely relevant to trade and industry and that its core principles remain the same. It would be wrong though to assume that this status can be maintained, so just as it was 20 years ago, equally today evolution and change are integral to maintaining pre-eminence,” he adds. How the LME changes and adapts over the next 15 years is a topic of hot debate, and Bagri says it is possible that not everything that is done will either be popular or right. “Nonetheless that should not stop the process and change as the market must continue to see how it can serve an industry that is itself changing in terms of geographic areas of net consumption and the types of customer that use our market,” he adds.
Electronic Trading Arrives
Bagri also oversaw the introduction of an electronic trading platform at the LME, launching LMEselect in February 2001. “With the pace that modern technology was developing, the LME creating a proprietary online trading platform was never in doubt, but we had to get the timing right and to deliver a system that would protect our other unique trading methodologies, namely phone and open outcry,” Bagri says. “As all three systems remain active today, I would reflect that the LME board’s approach and timing were a success which delivered, and continues to
'Even today I continue to learn something new almost every day, says Lord Bagri CBE'
deliver, the clients of the market a multiple choice of trading venues, unlike its competitors,” he adds. Retaining the position of the LME as the pre-eminent market for base metals trading is an ongoing challenge for the exchange, which has this year rolled out a Liquidity Roadmap to deliver more electronic trading, more transparency and greater market participation. It includes enhancements to membership categories to allow direct access to LMEselect, plus liquidity and market making programmes which will focus on third Wednesday contracts. “Above all else, our market must fight against complacency and recognise that at key inflection points we are vulnerable to competitors who seek to occupy part of our market place,” Bagri says. “LMEselect, electronic trading and the globalisation of terminals and prices are the key part of the LME’s response. While there should rightly be debate about membership categories and the rights and application of different categories of membership, it is necessary for the Exchange to continue to broaden its appeal – hopefully by expanding membership whilst ensuring that members themselves are able to operate in a healthy and profitable way,” he adds.
Just as membership of the exchange has changed over the years, so too have levels of financial investment, which have increased significantly in the past decade. Hedge fund and speculative flows often have a dramatic impact on prices, but Bagri says the involvement of financial institutions in the LME has helped create the dynamic market place that it is today. “Much has been said and written about the impact of this financial investment on prices and I am sure that whatever the LME does, this will continue to be something that is talked about for years to come,” he adds. At the centre of the current discussion is the LME’s unique
prompt date structure, which Bagri says remains a “key weapon in the LME’s arsenal in terms of its links with trade and industry.” The fear among some LME members is that the move to promote third Wednesday contracts may take investment volumes from the prompt-date system. Hedge funds typically prefer to use cash-cleared, monthly contracts instead of the prompt date structure of the LME; it is what they trade on the majority of global commodities exchanges. “I know that [the dates system] too is now being discussed, but I hope that whatever the outcome of those discussions, the LME’s owners and other stakeholders always remember that just as the market place needs the involvement of financial players, so too does it need the participation and support of trade and industry,” he says. Industry relies on LME prices, which remain the global benchmark, and there is no reason to suggest this will change unless the exchange itself took steps that alienated it from its core trade and industry customers, Bagri notes. “My sense is that this is something that the LME’s owners are conscious of, and – as someone with deep roots in trade and industry – I hope that the importance of this group to the wellbeing of the market is given adequate recognition,” he adds. Bagri nonetheless acknowledges that the exchange cannot stand still. “The reality is that as a mature exchange the LME already holds the dominant position for global hedging in the base metal markets, so most trade and industrial companies already use LME pricing either directly or indirectly. Future growth has to be sourced from the investment community and through the opening of certain emerging markets” he tells Metal Bulletin Magazine. “As the LME futures price is convergent with the physical market then the investment community prefers LME contracts for metals exposure as opposed to more domestic
facing exchanges. So, investment volumes will continue to increase and the key to the future success for the LME will be to maintain its close links to the trade and industry, whilst harvesting new flows for the exchange and its members,” he adds.
A Different World
The metals community is a different world from when Bagri first entered it in the 1940s. For starters, India has undergone huge change. Its liberalisation and growth story has been a key driver of commodities consumption and which many are optimistically tipping as the ‘next China’, a comparison which he says has become fashionable. But Bagri says although it is true that China’s population is now ageing whilst India’s continues to grow younger, this “demographic dividend” does not automatically assure India of a prosperous future. “Complicated regional politics and the economic omission of a decade mean that India’s starting point is low, and creating change and putting in place the infrastructural support needed for economic development is both time and capital consuming,” he tells Metal Bulletin Magazine. “Despite some recent setbacks, India’s new government led by prime minister Modi recognises the scale of these challenges, but progress will be slow and unlikely to match the speed at which China was able to grow GDP. Recent falls in commodity prices will of course help the economy, but while this is true, growth in domestic consumption remains the key to short-term GDP growth,” he says. “That said, I have huge faith in India’s long-term economic prosperity, recognising that our demographic framework does make decision-making more complex,” Bagri adds. Similarly, the peers in Metdist’s world have changed. “Our community has always had a cohesiveness and uniqueness that has made it special, which is why most of us happily and willingly spend a lifetime within it,” he reflects.
‘As metals themselves become a financial asset class, the line between the metals community and financial community is more blurred than it was’
“These boundaries are changing and as metals themselves become a financial asset class, the line between the metals community and financial community is more blurred than it was. Companies within our business have also consolidated, with the result that there are fewer market participants,” he says. “Taken together, this is changing some of the unique characteristics that made being part of this community so special,” he adds. Support from his family has also been unwavering. Bagri has two children: a son Apurv, who took over as ceo of Metdist in 1991, and a daughter Amita, who lives in India. He also has four grandchildren, Aditi, Amisha, Avani and Avanti. His wife of 61 years has been at his side throughout, including when he received the CBE in 1995 for services to the metals industry and was granted a life peerage two years later. “For me personally, it has been an extraordinary journey made possible by the support and help that I have had from my family, most especially my wife Usha, who has stood by me both when the sun was shining and on days when it never stopped raining,” he says
Importance Of Trust
Bagri’s personal philosophy is that ‘simple is best’, and that the tendency to overcomplicate business decisions can easily lead one astray. “In the end though, what matters is personal integrity, reputation and trust. Trust from one’s family, colleagues and everyone else with whom we make contact. I have been fortunate to have had that trust and hopefully I have never let anyone down with whom I have sought to build that trust,” he adds. Bagri says that throughout his career, and culminating in his role as chairman – “a humbling experience,” along with presiding over the exchange’s 125-year anniversary – what mattered most was ensuring that all he did for and with the LME was done
with “absolute integrity”; irrespective of the outcome in relation to Metdist’s own metals business. He made a conscious decision not to comment on the LME when he stepped down as chairman in 2002, but it is clear that many years later, his own personal as well as his son Apurv’s commitment to and fascination with metals remains. Bagri, now Metdist chairman, still goes into the office daily and colleagues say he avidly dissects market developments, particularly in the global physical copper market. “As a family, our involvement in the metals area has expanded considerably and now spreads well beyond the brokerage and trading business that were the starting point,” he says, referring to the group’s extensive global industrial operations, including metal production facilities. “Whatever else we do and wherever we do it, metals remain the core part of the family’s business activities and one we are proud to champion,” he adds. What tips does Bagri have for newcomers to the world of metals? “As a starting point I would remind everyone wanting to be a part of this business that ‘no-one owes you a living’. This applies to markets, companies, and also individuals,” he notes. “Become a part of this market if you believe you have the staying power to understand it, the tenacity to withstand its volatility and unpredictability, and have the integrity to work hard and not take anything for granted. These principles of course are true for many businesses, not just ours, but I do hope that the uniqueness of the metals markets and our community continues to make this an exciting environment in which to build a career,” he says. “It has served me well for over 65 years and whilst that might seem a long time, the one thing that I can say with pride is that, even today I continue to learn something new almost every day. The key to success is to enjoy what you do and I have been lucky that I have,” he adds.
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