We expect to invest and expand further in this decade in India: Mitsuo Ohya, President, Toray Industries, Inc.

  • February 20, 2024

In an exclusive interview with Pravin Prashant, Executive Editor, Indian Chemical News, Mitsuo Ohya, President, Toray Industries, Inc. talks about achievements in the last 98 years, global business sentiments, success mantra for continuous innovation, strategy to grow India market, future plans, role of Toray in hydrogen ecosystem, and development on AP-G 2025.     

Toray will celebrate its 100th Anniversary in 2026. Would you list ten achievements which were truly transformational?

It would be immodest to list ten achievements but I will try to share some successes from the past decade. First and foremost is the fact that we are closing in on a 100 years-reflects long term success which can only be made possible by our employees, serving and retired, and without them we couldn't do anything. This would not be possible with the one constant through the last 98 years - Toray's corporate philosophy which has not changed from day 1 and guides us through our purpose and the reason for being.

Secondly, without great customers, we wouldn't exist! What pleases me is that we have been selectively expanding our footprints from the Asia Pacific region to the European Union (EU) and North America, and in the past decade, to the Indian subcontinent. In India, in 2012-2023 period, Toray has grown from zero assets to four manufacturing assets (Engineered Plastics Compounding, Polypropylene spun-bound, Air Filter, and Airbag Cushion) and several hundred employees operating across India. We expect to invest and expand further in this decade in India. Favourable tail winds of India's 7% GDP growth, higher consumption, favourable demographics portend an attractive macro-economic environment for Toray in India.

Current business sentiments globally with respect to the company's targeted industry verticals?   

The world is experiencing a tough situation with wars and political uncertainty. Hence today's business sentiment is cautious optimism. We can hope for the best while preparing for the worst.

Thanks to the tagline - Innovation by Chemistry, the company has come out with many high quality products and superior services in its different divisions - Fibers and Textiles, Performance Chemicals, Carbon Fiber Composite Materials, Environment and Engineering, and Life Science. What's the success mantra for doing continuous innovation?

People! Our greatest assets are our people. Each and every one of the 48,000 employees. Our management is centred on the employee. Our employees drive new product innovation through close contact with customers and the sales team. Our R&D people are located across the world in our businesses, laboratories, technical centres, and even in universities. For example, we have one scientist conducting water research in India at IIT Madras.

How important is India as a market and where does it stand in terms of the global scheme of things? What's the strategy to grow the Indian market and new products which you are targeting in future?

Toray is a maker of premier, advanced raw materials not finished products. Hence our strategy leans heavily on Business to Business rather than Business to Consumer approach. Because of its size, population, institutions and global leadership, India is an important market for Toray and a very important market for the future. Many of Toray's raw materials go into high tech product offerings like aerospace, automotive, batteries, water and air purifiers, fast fashion industries etc. with higher function and quality.

How does Toray ensure safety and environmental sustainability in its operations? What's your future plan for all your operations?     

Toray is a chemical manufacturer. Safety is our first and primary goal. For all employees, and for all our diverse products. Because of a multitude of products, it would be difficult to have a one-size-fits-all answer to your question. Each product falls under its own category of industry quality, safety, and efficacy standards, product stewardship and perhaps, compliance. We adhere to comply with best of breed local and global quality and environmental policies.

Globally, Hydrogen has a great future due to its sustainability factor. The role Toray will play in the hydrogen ecosystem both as a solution provider and as a co-partner? How do you look at the India market from the hydrogen ecosystem perspective?

India, a large country, is experiencing continued economic growth and is expected to continue increasing its energy consumption in the future, and it already has the third largest total (not per capita) amount of CO2 emissions in the world after China and the United States. Therefore, we believe that the hydrogen ecosystem in India is particularly important and that a very large market can be expected. Toray intends to cooperate and contribute from various angles to realize a hydrogen society in India.

The Group announced AP-G 2025 with value creation as the theme. What is the development on this front?    

Toray uses strategic pricing as a centre pillar of value creation. Strategic pricing implies best pricing keeping in mind supply-demand balance and competitive intensity while adding value to our customer. AP-G-2025, incorporates this theme, to give Toray revenue, margin, operational excellence and customer satisfaction targets till 2025 which are on their way to being achieved.