Milan Touš, head of the Commercial and Economic Section of the Czech Embassy in New Delhi. (Article taken from the internal magazine Ozvěny)
I read one of the latest issues of the corporate quarterly from První brněnská strojírna Velká Bíteš (PBS) with great interest. I am glad I have the opportunity to share with its readers my impressions of the current presence of PBS in India and some observations related to the business opportunities in this huge yet not easily accessible market.
When I was preparing for being sent to India to the position of commercial counsellor four years ago, I only found brief reference to PBS in documents on the activity of Czech companies on the Indian market. This reference referred to the interest of the Indian Air Force in the Safir 5K/G MI auxiliary power unit (APU) for Mi-17 helicopters. After I came to India, I quickly made ties with PBS staff and from this moment on our written and phone communications have been becoming gradually more and more intense.
Indians are familiar with traditional Czech brands
Some Czech companies in India capitalise on the knowledge of traditional Czech brands and the good awareness of the high-quality products from the Czechoslovak era. In India, people are familiar with the Škoda brand and often automatically believe that everything with Škoda in its name is part of one holding. Once, I even had to disagree with an Indian businessman and explain to him that the U.S. based Skoda Construction Inc. has nothing in common with the Czech Republic.
You might perhaps be surprised to hear that some people in India believe that manufacturer and seller of shoes Baťa is an Indian company. A few years ago, one of the new underground stations in New Delhi was named after this giant of Czechoslovak industrial history.
The name PBS Velká Bíteš is only just beginning the journey of establishing awareness in India. Nevertheless, Indians who know this Czech company have respected it from the beginning and have shown great interest in cooperation
Great interest in PBS products
At last year’s DefExpo arms fair, representatives of the Indian armed forces were very interested in PBS production, which is quite unusual. Customers in India tend to be used to the fact that the first move must be initiated by the seller and so it is often usual that suppliers are constantly imposing themselves. I also noticed at the presentation of several Czech companies to the Confederation of Indian Industry that most interest was in cooperation with PBS. Some time ago, a representative of an Indian company which operates in the field of aerospace and the arms industry vehemently tried to persuaded me that only their company would be the biggest business partner for PBS in India.
The arms industry has recently opened to private companies, which are more active than big state companies and are searching for new possibilities for cooperation with foreign partners. Technologically advanced products have a big opportunity for success in India. I can give as an example the Czech radar manufacturer Eldis, whose systems cover almost 90% of Indian air space. Not to mention the fact that, due the size of this second most populous country in the world, every business success is of extraordinary importance for any Czech company. The Czech embassy in New Delhi appreciates PBS’s interest in the Indian market and strives to make sure that this Czech company becomes another flagship of Czech exports on the local market. Even now, PBS has a great opportunity to build on successful deliveries of the Safir APU.
Milan Touš, head of the Commercial and Economic Section of the Czech Embassy in New Delhi.