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The Chairman informed the Members that this had been a difficult year for the hotel industry and for the Taj in particular due to the global meltdown and the terror attack in November, 2008. He commended the tremendous job that the people in the Taj did and admired that some had even sacrificed their own lives to save the guests. At the request of the Members the meeting observed a The Chairman informed the Members that as a result of this attack 288 rooms in the Taj were closed down and would be commissioned by the end of the year. He mentioned that the Company had undertaken to look after the families of the bereaved and affected employees. The Company had also set up a Taj Public Sendee Welfare Trust to provide aid to all the victims of the attack and the Trust had so far disbursed Rs. 1.87 crores which benefited about 147 families.
Taking into account the above circumstances, the standalone turnover and profit of the Company had been affected. The Company had registered a turnover of Rs. 1,707 crores, a decrease of 6% over the previous year's turnover. The Company's Profit After Tax declined by 38%. Accordingly, the Directors recommended a dividend of 120% or Rs.1.20 per share, as compared to 190% in the previous year.
The Chairman provided a quick overview of the industry and mentioned that the Managing Director would provide a more comprehensive review in his presentation.
The Chairman highlighted the significant events for the Company during the previous year as under:
Commissioning of 5 more new properties in India
Additions of 6 new Ginger hotels bringing the total to 19
Acquisition of ETFX which owned the old Sea Rock hotel to create an integrated convention centre and a high end hotel integrated with Lands Knd.
Investment in Orient Express Hotels an international entity with several iconic hotels.
The Chairman informed the Members that the turnover of Rs. 285 crores declared for the first quarter of the current year was 24% lower than the same quarter last year and PBT of Rs. 24 crores was 73% lower than the same quarter last year. The global slowdown would continue and the Company would have to face these challenging times through the current year and perhaps some part of the following year too.
The Chairman mentioned that domestically the economy would pick up faster than the west and the focus would be on cutting costs, improving internal productivity and brand visibility overseas. He further mentioned that the potential for tourism and business travel in India was high and India had probably the greatest unfulfilled potential for tourism.
The Chairman stated that the Taj would overcome this phase, both domestically and internationally, as one of the leading hospitality companies in the world and appreciated the support of the Members in bad times and good times.
The Chairman then invited the Managing Director, Mr. Raymond N. Bickson, to make a presentation to the Members of the Company on the Company's performance for the year ended March 31, 2009.
Mr. Raymond N. Bickson shared with the Members a detailed presentation on the Company's performance, touching upon the Financial Results of the year 2008/09, Financials Results for Quarter 1 of 2009/10, key initiatives and achievements including new properties acquired in 2008/09 and Management Contracts signed during the year. The presentation also covered the new capacities which were under development to meet the growing demand and a brief on the "EARTH" initiative undertaken. The presentation was well received by the Members.