Work has started across all sites but with depleted labour: Irfan Razack, CMD, Prestige Group
Retail malls have opened up but cinema, food & beverage and entertainment are not a part of it. At the moment, shopping is on but the footfalls and trading are limited to just 30%. It will have an impact because if the revenue is not proper then the retailers will be at a loss, Irfan Razack, CMD at Prestige Group told Zee Buainess Executive Editor Swati Khandelwal in an exclusive interview
Irfan Razack, Chairman & Managing Director, Prestige Group, talks about the Q4FY20 results, ongoing projects and resumption of work post lockdown, hotel and retail business and liquidity situation of his company during a candid chat with Swati Khandelwal, Zee Business. Edited Excerpts:
Q: Numbers has been low in Q4FY20 as there was a fall of 64% in the profit, income has remained almost flat but there is an improvement in the margins. How do you see your results of the quarter?
A: Such ups and downs will be visible in almost every quarter due to the IND AS accounting system as it keeps changing. There is a need to complete the method of accounting when hand-over is done and in the process, the revenue may go up or decrease quarter-on-quarter. But the actual indicator is the operational results in which the kind of sales that has been done in the quarter allows us to know about the way the company has progressed. In the March quarter, sales stood at Rs 1,200 crore, which is much more than the previous quarter. We saw a lockdown of 15 days in March; however, the overall performance of March quarter has remained good. Now, we should wait and watch the impact of the lockdown on June and September quarter. Sales have resumed now that’s why I feel that margins will be protected but there is a challenge at execution level as there are problems related to labour. 30% labourers are available on the sites but we are supposed to make timely deliveries to our customers. Few labourers are present that’s why we have to use much of mechanization and automation and the challenge is going one and we will overcome it. Unlock 2.0 has been announced but the number of cases has increased in Bangalore in the last three-four days. Thus, the situation is volatile due to which daily assessment is required and that’s why a prediction is very difficult under such a situation.
Q: Update us about the ongoing projects of your company and the sites where work has resumed?
A: Work has resumed at every site whether it is at Bangalore or Kochi or Hyderabad or Chennai but it has resumed with depleted labour. This is why there can be some delays in finishing the projects but we are trying to make up with the loss of time. Labourers are ready to come but it is a logistical issue because labourers coming from other states will have to move on 14 days quarantine and they are afraid of the same. If the government allows the presence of a quarantine centre within the camp instead of asking them to go for an institutional quarantine, then they, the labourers, will come and work will start and economic activity will also be carried on. Currently, there is a lockdown and protection of the lives of people is the main reason behind the lockdown. But along with protecting their lives, there is a need to provide a livelihood to them by providing some work. There should be a balance accordingly. Thus, there is a Life Vs Livelihood issue and it should be handled. So, work should be done either way and the lives should also be protected.
Q: Your hotel and retail business are on a closure since long. When do you see the situation getting back to normal and how much do you think will it affect your FY21 earnings?
A: Retail malls have opened up but cinema, food & beverage and entertainment are not a part of it. At the moment, shopping is on but the footfalls and trading are limited to just 30%. It will have an impact because if the revenue is not proper then the retailers will be at a loss. And if they are not earning then they will face problems in paying the rents. We will access things, like sales, turnover and footfalls, in July. But, I think, malls are open partially. But there can’t be any occupancy in the hotels because travel is closed, people fear even while making internal travels and business travel has closed completely. So, hotels will take some more time to recover. I think it will take another six months to start the full-fledged operations. It will have an impact on the bottom line in FY21, but we will have to handle it. At the end of the day, I believe, when the full-fledged business will start then we will bounce back fully because it will lead to more events and conferences, but it will take some more time.
Q: What is the liquidity situation as we have seen problems in the sector? What is the CapEx and do you think that there is a need to raise more funds or you are comfortable right now?
A: If you take our company alone, then Prestige Estate’s liquidity is pretty comfortable. Collections are reaching us properly because the customers of the pre-committed sales are closing their accounts. The ready inventories are being sold, we are receiving their collections and we are not facing any issues in them. As far as the CapEx project is concerned then the loans are tied-up. The banks are gradually making disbursements, where there is financial closure. So, liquidity wise we are fairly comfortable. But going forward, we will have to see what can happen because we have instalment payments, EMIs, and we have made lease rentals discounting (LRD) in the malls, however, we are getting rentals from the offices and we are not facing any problem here. But in the case of LRD in the malls, a moratorium has been granted by RBI but we don’t know how long it will continue and we will have to handle it.
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For the purpose, we will have to conserve the liquidity and do good finance gentry to make sure that everything is in place because there should be no stress and work must not stop. If there is any new work then we are going back a little bit and taking forward the existing work.
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