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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Writer Corp plans capital market foray within 5 yrs

Writer Corporation is very visible around the city of Mumbai - most people have seen their ochre and light brown vans whizzing around the city. This relocation firm is now being run by a third generation member of the family. Garfield D'Souza is the 31 year old scion who is taking the company forward. This BCom graduate from St. Andrews college has hopes of taking the company into the Middle East and actually becoming a market leader there in the relocations business.

Writer Corporation started 53 years ago with a handful of workers, one truck and ambition to succeed. Today, this company is a market leader in the relocation business and Garfield is at the helm of the firm. He started as a trainee in the company as his father made it clear that the company would not be inherited, it had to be learnt. He gives his father credit for shaping his persona.

Managing Director, Writer Corporation, Garfield D'Souza told CNBC-TV18, "Right from the beginning my father involved me in some way in the business. He would take me to play on the computer or file papers. Then after I graduated, there was no hesitation in diving in and wanting to excel. Right from the start, I was out with the packers - eating with them, packing things with them - and along the way, it built up a real sense of trust and camaraderie with the people as they form the nucleus of the business."

Writer started out by shipping for the army and they used gunny bags and straw to do their packing. But now they provide packing and moving services of the highest standard with a damage ratio that is next to neglible. He says, "As a result of the outsourcing wave that hit India, Writer also got swept by the wave. So, setting out of India with a good deal of knowledge and technology, our people could manage relocations of large multinationals - from Paris to New York - and we would leverage off partnerships we had in those particular regions to manage the projects - so to speak."

Garfield realises that he will have to up the ante and expand beyond Indian shores. And to do that, Writer has created a hub in Dubai because "the traffic between India and the Middle East (primarily Dubai and Bahrain) is extensive. He adds, "I think there is a need for us to spread our wings and focus on the international growth strategy and to de-risk the India model, if for any reason we got hit, it's the international presence that could solidfy the corporation."

He says, "We are going to close FY07 between Rs 200-220 crore of topline revenues and our projections for next year are between Rs 320-340 crore revenues as a combined entity."

"Right now we are putting together building blocks, which means we are putting together strong corporate governance plan. I am sure in the next five years, we will tap the market for debt and some form or the other. But there is definitely a plan to take Writer to the capital market", he adds.

The money raised from capital market by listing the company will be used in expansion. D'Souza further says, "There are several areas; more expansion definitely. Writer has always wanted to grow its businesses but at a certain level make sure that the core of the business is very strong. But yes ofcourse, international business is a great area for us to explore."

So, just what kind of relocation services does Writer provide. Garfield explains, "Let's take the Microsoft account. They have plans for India and therefore it necessates the movement of some high level executives. All of these people come in with some sort of premonitions about India and it's important to se their mind at ease. So, therefore when they arrive,we acclimatise them with the particular city they are going to be based out of, we hand-hold them through the schooling process. We make sure to find them a driver and a maid, get their residential permits done and set up their home for them."

So, basically Writer Corporation lets expats and foreign workers come to India and makes the transition a hassle-free experience for them, so that they can hit the ground running. By also making the process of moving to India so painless for such clients, Writer is building up quite a reputation for itself with the overseas crowd. And such goodwill is what will keep their cash registers flowing.

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