Ramesh Iyer, Managing Director – India, Topsgrup., Mr. Iyer, a staunch Topsman for over 5 years is responsible for TOPSGRUP’s businesses in India. He is an erudite manager for whom sound organization is the key to success. A post graduate in management studies, he has an enviable mix of experience and knowledge of a wide variety of industry sectors. He has over 24 years of rich experience in heading logistics, marketing and international business in various reputed service brands like Lloyd Insulation, TNT Skypak, Elbee, Express IT Logistics Worldwide Ltd. Before joining TOPSGRUP, he was the Vice President – International Business, in Express IT Logistics. Ramesh is looked upon as a trusting leader with a passionate drive for corporate governance, quality systems and creating a team ethic.
TOPSGRUP, India’s largest security group is undoubtedly the most respected brand in the security solutions space currently valued at Rs20bn. TOPSGRUP is acknowledged by the business fraternity, the federal and state government and even the industry peers as the pioneers of this business in India and the Industry spokesperson. TOPSGRUP through its leadership position and multiple innovations across the last four decades has been suitably credited with the mantle of revolutionizing and changing the face of the Indian Security Industry.
In an exclusive interaction with Hemant P. Maradia of India Infoline, Mr. Iyer says: "Security management today is about finding the right balance between protecting the organization’s core assets, including people, and enabling them to do their job."
How has the security scenario changed, both in India and globally since the time you started the company? Brief us about the changes that the industry has gone through in the past few years?
Private security worldwide is a US$150bn industry. Today, the security management scenario is very different from the past decades and is rapidly evolving. Organisations are exposed to more complexity and uncertainty because of the pace at which their risk environment changes; therefore, security management today is about finding the right balance between protecting the organization’s core assets, including people, and enabling them to do their job.
When TOPSGRUP started its journey in the year 1970, security industry in India was plagued by many uncertainties and problems and was no more than a ‘chowkidaari business’. Now, security is increasingly being considered as an investment and in much the same way that information technology investments are now commonly capitalized, the challenge for the security industry is to drive the organizations in the same direction for security.
Increasingly across the globe and in India, an organization that can keep its core assets and processes in service in the face of an attack or accident (and actually improve its ability to adapt to future events) is considered to have a definitive competitive advantage.
Much effort has gone in to bring the industry where it is right now in India. And these changes have been brought about by visionaries like Dr. Diwan Rahul Nanda, Global Chairman, TOPSGRUP, who after taking over the reins of TOPSGRUP in 1993, ushered in a new era, corporatizing not only TOPSGRUP, but the entire Indian Security Industry. The rules of the industry were re-written by Dr.Nanda leading to transformations that mark the face of this Rs 10,000 Crore industry today.
What are the latest trends and how are you placed to capitalise on the same?
Exponential increase in anti-social and terror activities, equally in developed and developing countries, will continue to lead the growing demand for the services of professional security agencies.
We foresee the emergence in the demand for the following new services:
Expert help in preparation of security programs for corporates and large projects, planning and writing SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) including protocol, procedures and implementation guidelines
Keeping in mind the above mentioned needs, TOPSGRUP recently formed a strategic JV with SECUREGATE, Security Specialists from Israel. With a stake of 51%, TOPSGRUP is the majority partner in the JV. The JV is expected to yield a turnover of INR 7,050 million over the 5-year period. It will leverage the infrastructure of TOPSGRUP in India and SECUREGATE’s unique TVRA (Threat identification, Vulnerability evaluation and Risk Analysis) methodology along with a proprietary intelligence mapping system to identify the real threats and loop-holes in protecting assets, infrastructures and sites.
What are going to be the key challenges and opportunities for players in the organised and integrated security solutions business?
Private security industry in India is estimated to be over INR 10,000 crore today and growing at a CAGR of ~ 22%. The fast paced growth gives rise to some challenges and opportunities. According to an ASSOCHAM report, the industry requires over two lakh security professionals in various installations/utilities in the next coming years. With this huge opportunity comes a great challenge for the industry too - to regularize and organize the industry across all states in India with the implementation of The Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act 2005 - to ensure uniform standards of professionalism across the country.
Could you tell us about the size of the organised security solutions industry in India and its growth rate? How does it compare with the global markets in terms of its nature, scope, etc.?
While many industries have been severely affected by the latest economic downturn, this is the only industry in the world that is ‘recession resistant’, given the growing rate of urban crime and terrorism.
Globally, the private security industry is now a US$ 150 billion industry while India’s private security industry is currently estimated to be over INR 10,000 Crore. The industry is growing at a CAGR of ~ 22% in India. With international security companies coming to India to establish their footprints and vice-versa, the growth is only going in one direction, i.e. upwards.
What are the future prospects for the security industry in India and TOPSGRUP?
Mushrooming of shopping malls, special economic zones, self-contained townships, IT parks and other exclusive facilities will only continue, creating strong demand for private security services in India. As far as TOPSGRUP is concerned, our strength lies in the ability to constantly deliver on the promises. From the time of its inception in 1970, we have built and grown on our mantra of ‘Customer First’ where we have at all levels kept our customers’ delight as our first and true measure of success. Accessibility at all levels, proactive and ethical service levels and commitment to deliver what we have promised, has seen us grow from a INR 4 million security firm in 1993 to a global corporation that has grown at a CAGR of 45%, out speeding the industry which is growing at a CAGR of ~22%. In 2008-09, TOPSGRUP crossed revenues of INR 8.76 billion and is poised to achieve revenues of INR 14 billion by 2010-11 through an effective combination of aggressive organic growth combined by strategic inorganic acquisitions within India and other countries around the globe.
Could you give us a break up of your client base in terms of government agencies, private organisations and individuals?
TOPSGRUP is an ISO 9001:2008 certified conglomerate of 11 companies and 1 specialized division offering Total Security Solutions to over 8,000 clients in India and United Kingdom. TOPSGRUP is organised into industry specific verticals like Prime businesses, Major businesses, Finance & Technology, and Retail for operational efficiency to be able to provide bespoke security solutions.
Some clients of TOPSGRUP in India: Siemens, Aircel, Bharti Infratel, Pantaloons (Future Group), Trent, Birla Sun Life, ICICI Bank, Max New York Life, IBM, HCL, ONGC, Hindalco
Tell us about your inorganic growth plans (both local as well as global)? Have all of your previous acquisitions been integrated completely into the group?
TOPSGRUP has a clear roadmap of having our footprints across all the continents within the next 2-3 years. The company is positioned at the top of the growth and industry curve; all it has to do is to stay ahead of the game, keep on providing innovative and customer friendly services and soon, it will achieve its vision of becoming a US$ 10 billion conglomerate and one of the top three global security giants in the world.
In 2008, TOPSGRUP acquired a 51% majority stake in ‘The Shield Guarding Company Limited’, UK’s leading security services provider with approximate revenues of INR 4,815 million and 2,300 employees. Closer home, we strategically acquired 100% stake in Southern India’s leading security company ‘Guardwell Detective Services Private Limited’ with approximate revenues of INR 400 million and 5,000 employees. Also, recently we acquired a strategic stake in India’s leading security system integrator, ‘Adtech Systems Limited’ thereby entering into the system integration space.
2009 saw TOPSGRUP signing a strategic JV with SECURE GATE, a global group providing world-class security processes, standards and technologies from Israel, founded by a team of top international security experts from the Israeli Security Services, El Al Airlines and the IDF Special Forces. The joint venture, TOPS-SECUREGATE is 51:49 percent JV with a stake of 51%, TOPSGRUP is the majority partner. With this move, TOPSGRUP will enter an INR 92 billion niche market with a long-ranging 5-year business plan. The JV is expected to yield a turnover of INR 7,050 million over the 5-year period.
What are your plans for the international markets? Which global markets are you extremely bullish on?
In the coming years, TOPSGRUP is poised to strategically enter other parts of the world including the Americas, Australasia, South East Asia and Middle East. The global pie at USD 150 billion is big enough to make our dream of $10bn by 2020 and we have all that it takes to make it happen.
How much revenue comes from the overseas business right now, especially Shield Guarding Co., UK? How do you see this unfolding in the years to come?
In year 2008-09, Shield revenues was Rs. 4,814 million while the revenues are projected to be Rs. 5,316 million in the financial year 2009-10. We are very bullish for the UK market and believe that by the year 2013-14, the Shield Guarding Company will clock revenue of Rs. 8,894 million.
What role do you see for technology in the security business? How has technology advancements changed the security industry scenario?
Security is a business or organizational problem that must be framed and solved in the context of the organization’s strategic drivers. We understand that electronic security is a vital component of any acceptable security solution. We take a holistic approach to mitigating enterprise risks with various proven security and safety technologies in combination with our manned guarding solutions.
Tell us about your Human Resource policy and strategy since yours is the business driven largely by the manpower that you employ? How do you ensure high quality personal service with a huge workforce like you have?
Correct training at TOPSGRUP and Shield have also been one of the primary reasons of our exponential growth and heightened customer satisfaction levels. In India, we have a dedicated company called TOPSGRUP International Security Academy Private Limited (TISA)that has five training academies spread across India in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Faridabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai (soon to be set up) which not only conduct basic and advanced training courses for our security and safety officers of TOPSGRUP but also imparts specially tailored security courses and ‘Special Security Training Modules’ online for corporates and individuals alike.
In United Kingdom, Shield has a dedicated training academy in Central London and has been recognized by the Security Industry Authority as the thought leader in training and academic development.
What is your view on the growing competition in this segment? What sets TOPSGRUP apart from the rest of the companies?
Customers don’t partner with TOPSGRUP just because it delivers world-class security but because it is a completely ethical and transparent organization, accessible 24 X 7.
TOPSGRUP has always demonstrated a transparent and good governance approach and is 100% compliant with respect to laws of the respective countries. While we are PSARA 2005 compliant in India, The Shield Guarding Company in the UK is an SIA Approved Contractor.
What is your USP? How do you plan to enhance the customer satisfaction going forward?
Trust is the centre of our existence and it radiates outwardly towards our stakeholders, our partners and most importantly, our customers. TOPSGRUP’s innovative end-to-end bespoke security solutions backed by our uncompromising attitude in delivering quality in everything we do, have established TOPSGRUP as India and United Kingdom’s finest security expert and an emerging global security group in the making. TOPSGRUP is the first security group in South East Asia, to achieve the coveted ISO 9001:2008 certification from Bureau Veritas.
Our customers trust us with their enterprise, assets, information and their families. They sleep peacefully at night knowing very well that a Topsman is awake and is protecting them. When a customer partners with TOPSGRUP, they enter our Circle of Trust and to uphold and honour that trust, is what each Topsman™ and Topswoman lives for.
We intend to build on this USP of ours and keep delivering world-class security solutions to complex enterprise problems with a smile in future as well!
Tell us about your training and educational initiatives? Do you undertake training of outside personnel as well, including Government agencies?
Without proper training and guidance, the person in the uniform is merely "dressing the part" and can place himself and others in a position of endangerment. The Private Security Agencies Regulation Act (2005) lays down clear guidelines for guards’ training and licensing of agencies. Under the Act, 160 hours of training, 100 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of on site training spread over 20 days is mandatory for private security personnel.
TOPSGRUP is not only PSARA 2005 compliant but is a pioneer and leader in security training with its own Academies across India. TOPSGRUP International Security Academy Private Limited (TISA) has five Academies across India which not only conduct basic training courses for the Guarding personnel of TOPSGRUP but conduct various security courses ‘online,’ and have ‘Special Security Training Modules’ for corporates. The Academies also provide consultancy services and do security audits of customer establishments.
Post a stringent selection process with background checks, fingerprinting and police verification, TOPSGRUP puts a new recruit through a rigorous 3-tier training program consisting of Basic Guarding training module, Industry-specific training module and a Site-Specific training module before deployment. Besides the initial training, a TOPSMAN also goes through a comprehensive, On-the-Job (OJT) Training calendar enforced across all units.
Proficiency in security is largely a product of the combination of experience and a thorough training program and the merits of a systematic training program reflect in the security guard’s attitude and performance, morale and productivity.
Security being a very sensitive issue, how do you ensure client retention? What kind of services today's clients are demanding from you?
From the time of its inception in 1970, we have built and grown on our mantra of ‘Customer First’ where we have at all levels kept our customers’ delight as our first and true measure of success. Accessibility at all levels, proactive and ethical service levels and commitment to deliver what we have promised, has seen us grow faster than the industry growth. Each one of our around 90,000 employees believes in going that extra mile to see that smile on our customers’ faces and to ensure our customers sleep peacefully at night while we protect their future.
Do you also have a presence in the Rescue and Relief work as well like medical emergencies, natural calamities, etc.?
In 2004, TOPSGRUP launched India’s first and Mumbai’s fastest Emergency Response Service called ‘TOPSLINE 1252’. This unique life-saving service was introduced because we at TOPSGRUP felt that the citizens of Mumbai and the society at large needed a committed helpline for reaching out in times of fatal emergencies such as heart attacks, fire, burglaries, physical attacks, etc.
Till date, over 700,000 citizens of Mumbai, Thane and Vashi have enrolled as members and we have been able to save over 13,000 lives and counting. Currently, against a committed response of 9 minutes, TOPSLINE 1252 reaches any emergency just under 7 minutes! In 2006, during the 26/07 deluge in Mumbai, TOPSLINE 1252 rescued over 400 lives including a bus full of children that was stuck in the ravaging floods. Last year, during the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai that lasted over 60 hours, hundreds of our life-saving doctors, paramedics and crew members of TOPSLINE 1252 rescued and saved over 150 lives without bothering about their own safety and lives.
Any plans to list the company in India or abroad?
In India we are planning an IPO and will announce the dates in the next coming months.