Tata Realty witnessed a spike in its residential and commercial businesses since the lockdown, says its MD & CEO, Sanjay Dutt to BrandSutra

SANJAY DUTT, MD & CEO, Tata Realty & Infrastructure Limited and Tata Housing Development Company Limited, is a stickler for excellence in every endeavour. A veteran in the real estate sector, he talks of the ‘adventures, opportunities and learnings’ across his years in the industry, making a success of digital transformation mandated by the pandemic and spells out a positive outlook for the company and category

From turning entrepreneur at the age of 21 to being MD & CEO at Tata Realty & Infrastructure Ltd now, with stints at consultancies like CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield and JLL in between, take us through the ‘adventures, opportunities and learnings’ that you mention on your LinkedIn profile.

At a time when opportunities were less, I invested in learning, skilling and created an enterprise called Fast Forward, which quickly expanded to four cities and a network of franchises across 10 cities with a strategic alliance in the UK. I became an aggregator in the logistics space. The challenges were seed capital and cash flow management. I invested again in management programmes and started the second leg of my professional journey by entering the real estate industry, which started in 1993, CBRE in 1996, C&W in 2001-2008 and 2012-2016 and JLL in 2008-2012. These organizations were as much a learning ground as a battlefield to win, advise and partner in promoting and advocating for the sector. The third leg of my journey was in real estate development, which started with CapitaLand and now Tata Realty & Infrastructure Limited. Each move of mine from one sector to another and one organization to another was coincidentally during a recession. It forced me to put extra effort but allowed me higher job satisfaction and accelerated my learning and growth. It allowed me to build some great relationships that I nurture till today. The journey started with a purpose, but the outcome was emotional bonding and values for life. Support from my wife and family has been key to this journey. The adventure, opportunities and learnings are ongoing and shall continue forever.

“I consider myself a roadie and a foodie, and enjoy designing jewellery for my wife. My workplace is an extension of my home and family. I am lucky that some of my colleagues and clients are my friends. I learn a lot from their perspectives, and it helps me remain dynamic and relevant,” says Sanjay Dutt. “My motto is excellence and to spread goodness selflessly.”

How did Brand Tata Housing fare during lockdown? What has been the response to the four consumer campaigns you launched during lockdown to ease the cost burden on home-buyers?

Interestingly, Tata Realty witnessed a spike in its residential as well as commercial businesses since the lockdown came into effect. Residential grew by more than 15% (especially during the festive period) and commercial saw a rental growth of 10%. This can be attributed to the success of our recent consumer-centric campaigns, active engagement with teams internally as well as channel partners and deepening of relationship with them. A specific initiative on AWHO and Tata employees added to the lift. We returned with construction of over 20 projects across 15 cities, amongst the first in the country to do so. Our four consumer campaigns - ‘A Happy Place Called Home’, ‘Move in India’, ‘WOW is Now @3.99’ and ‘The Grand Indian Home Festival’ – were launched online during the lockdown. The home festival launched on Republic Day through a digital meet allowed home-buyers to get up to 7% off on ready-to-move-in projects. It had over 800+ channel partners from across India, UAE, Australia and the UK.

You were one of the first companies to ramp up digital adoption. Take us through the process and how it has helped you stay relevant to consumers.

Digital adoption, both in business and marketing functions, certainly helped us stay relevant to consumers despite social distancing norms. Digital launch of projects, virtual online tours and detailed explanations to customer queries via call centre executives are just some of the ways we are trying to shore up the home-buyer sentiment. We have reserved around 40-50% of marketing spends for digital, until we can execute 360-degree marketing campaigns.

Give us a sense of how the real estate category has been faring. How do you expect it to behave in the next 6-8 months?

The residential segment, which had over 25 months’ worth unsold inventory, has bounced back faster than expected with help from State and Central Governments on various financial waivers and schemes to support home-buyer needs. Digitization and technology adoption too accelerated transformation at an unprecedented pace. Buyer preferences have moved from under-construction to ready-to-move-in (RTMI) properties due to the security element. Work from home has spurred the need for spacious homes. Several of our spacious projects like Myst in Kasauli, Tritvam in Kochi, Raisina Residency in Gurgaon, Serein in Mumbai and Avenida in Kolkata saw a remarkable performance this year, with Myst recording over 345% increase in revenue and 86% increase in enquiries in FY 20-21 compared to FY 19-20. The demand for residential is expected to improve from current levels, as indicated by early signs of recovery.

What are the development plans for 2021 at Tata Realty?

Tata Realty has large land banks with potential for over 40 million sqft residential development, of which we intend to roll out 2 million sq ft in FY 21-22 and over 12 million sq ft of office development. Our 6.3 million sq ft commercial portfolio largely remains stable with nearly 92% occupancy. We have about 1.6 million sq ft expected to be delivered in 2021, including Intellion Park, Gurugram.

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