Jayanta Roy, MD – Peerless General Finance & Investment Co. Ltd. (PGFI)
The Financial Service industry in India is the backbone of a country’s economic growth. India has a diverse financial sector and is experiencing rapid expansion, led by various factors including policy support, improving business fundamentals, product innovation, and service delivery. Credit off-take has been growing rapidly in India over the past decade, supported by strong economic growth and rising consumerism. While there are several financial services providers across the length and breadth of our country, only few companies such as Peerless General Finance & Investment Co. Ltd. (PGFI), are growing as committed entities progressing towards strategic growth and fostering self-employment.
The Peerless General Finance & Investment Co. Ltd. (PGFI) started its journey in 1932 as a leading indigenous insurance company and today is a multi-faceted conglomerate focusing on various business verticals like Hospitality, Healthcare, Housing and Financial services. Along its journey spanning 90 years, the Company has earned the trust of millions of customers, while involving itself in treasury investments and investment in and governance of subsidiary companies. The company’s head office is located at the heart of the city at Esplanade near to Raj Bhavan, Kolkata and most of the business of the Peerless group companies is centered in and around West Bengal.
Peerless was founded in Narayanganj, Dhaka by Late Radhashyam Roy, primarily a school teacher. After his demise in 1960, his illustrious elder son Late B. K. Roy took up the baton and became the architect of modern Peerless. In 1985, with the passing away of Shri B. K. Roy, the erstwhile Managing Director, Late Padma Shri S. K. Roy took up the central role in Peerless, expanded the organization and made it future-ready.
Thus, to understand what PGFI really stands for and what it looks forward to achieving in the years to come, The Industry Insights Magazine connected with the top management of PGFI.
- Why is Peerless the best even after 90 years of operation?
We are always working to get something new onboard in pursuit of benefiting our customers, staff and our stakeholders. For example, Peerless Hospital works with the latest medical technology and facilities in terms of equipment and patient services. Whereas, our patients have the facility of booking online appointments, along with downloading online reports, and also providing samples for pathological tests from the convenience of their homes.
Specifically talking about our financial services, Peerless has a dedicated subsidiary for retail and SME loans, and has an online loan origination system, along with a digital platform for loan processing, disbursement and post-disbursement processes, that allows us to operate with high efficiency for our customers.
Sharing an in-detail perspective of what Peerless is here to achieve, Partha Sarathi Bhattacharya, the Chairman of the Board of PGFI states – “Peerless is a highly respected group in eastern India. Building on that brand strength, our challenge is to transform the group while balancing Growth, Profitability and Sustainability”. He continued – “We are in the process of strengthening our Board, our professional executive leadership team, as well as our core middle management team across businesses, and I am confident that the future will unveil a transformed Peerless”.
Adding to Mr. Bhattacharya’s statement, Jayanta Roy, the MD shared – “We are very clearly on a path of transformation. In doing so, we will optimize our group’s resources on the most promising areas of growth and concentrate our efforts in a few areas that matter”. He continued – “We will also explore new areas for growth. For example, we may explore areas of healthcare business that are beyond hospitals. Similarly, we may also look at new business areas, which have some synergies with our areas of strength. While we will continue to focus on business growth, we will never forget our social obligations. As the Peerless group has done over the last 90 years, we will continue to invest in areas of high social impact through our Skill Academy and Gadadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa. I am grateful to all our customers, staff, and partners for the support they have provided over the years. We will continue to strive towards our centenary year to create a peerless ‘Peerless’.”
- What are the various services offered by Peerless?
The Peerless group has the following subsidiaries: Peerless Hospitex Hospital & B. K. Roy Research Centre, Peerless Hotels Limited, Peerless Financial Services Limited, Peerless Financial Products Distribution Limited, Bengal Peerless Housing Development Co. Ltd. and Peerless Securities Limited.
Letting our readers get a real-world view of Peerless and the business excellence it displays, AK Mukhuty, Director Finance & CFO said – “We always keep a keen eye on the right allocation of investments across our subsidiaries and treasury. Our aim is to maximize returns while balancing risk and opportunities for future growth”.
Here is brief information about each of our subsidiary companies and what problem statement they are out to solve:
- Peerless Hospitex Hospital & B.K. Roy Research Centre
Addressing the need for a quality healthcare facility that can accommodate everyone, irrespective of the race, religion, caste, creed or socio-economic background, we founded a 400 bedded Multi-Specialty hospital called – Peerless Hospitex Hospital & B. K. Roy Research Centre. Located at Panchasayar, Eastern Metropolitan bypass, Kolkata, the hospital has a vast list of Specialties and Departments like Anaesthesiology, Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Critical Care Medicine, Dentistry, Maxillofacial Surgery, Dermatology, Radiology & Imaging, Respiratory Medicine, Rheumatology, Urology, Renal Transplant and numerous other specialties and super specialties. The hospital serves about 3 lakh patients a year and is also very popular amongst patients from Bangladesh.
- Peerless Hotels Limited
The Peerless Group of Hotels devotes itself in creating and enduring relationships with its guests and members, by providing highly personalized services in an elegant atmosphere and the warmth of comfort. The group has 5 properties in Kolkata, Port Blair, Hyderabad, Durgapur and Mukutmanipur (in West Bengal). In all, the group has over 350 guest rooms across these various properties. We also provide all our guests with exquisite Bengali cuisine in the name of “Aaheli”, which is very well-known among the local folk as well as tourists.
- Bengal Peerless Housing Development Co. Ltd.
Through this subsidiary of ours we have so far built about 6000 dwelling units for the LIG, MIG and HIG segments and we have successfully completed projects valued at over Rs 1,000 crore. We are proud that we have Mr. Sourav Ganguly as the brand ambassador of the ongoing project Avidipta Phase II, which is the tallest super-premium residential property on EM Bypass, Kolkata.
- Peerless Financial Services Limited
A retail lending arm of our Peerless group, we offer loan products like – Loan Against Salary, Loan to Professionals (Doctors, CAs, CSs, ICWAs), Equipment Finance and Business Loans of various types to cater to needs of small and mid-size business ventures. Through this venture of ours we have started several branch offices across West Bengal, located at Chinsurah, Durgapur and Bardhaman and other places.
- Peerless Financial Products Distribution Limited (PFPDL)
Through PFPDL we distribute financial products viz. Life Insurance, Health Insurance, General Insurance and Mutual Funds of renowned Companies like Manipal Cigna, Max Life Insurance and Royal Sundaram. PFDL has 42 branches and we have so far provided financial protection to over 6.3 lakh policy holders.
- Peerless Securities Limited
This is a SEBI registered Financial Intermediary company with membership of the NSE, BSE, NSDL and MCX. Peerless Securities Limited offers a bouquet of products and services including Retail & Institutional Equities, Derivatives, Commodities, Currency, Bonds, FDs, demat & repository as well as distribution of mutual funds, across 12 branches in Bengal and one in Mumbai.
- How was the pandemic phase handled at Peerless?
We at the Peerless group have been extremely sensitive towards the implications of the Covid 19 pandemic. We are among one of the very few organizations that did not let go of even a single employee during Covid. This was done keeping in mind the group’s rich legacy of working with its people and being by the side of its people in good times and bad.
We have supported our staff through this tough period”, added – Bhargab Lahiri, the Joint Managing Director.
Also, all of our staff and management at the Peerless Hospital have played a pivotal role in serving patients during Covid. Peerless Hospital has not only tided over the Covid challenge, but has made very significant contributions to society at that hour of need. Peerless was one of the first few laboratories in the eastern part of India to get approval from ICMR for COVID 19 RTPCR and has conducted more than 1,30,000 RT PCR tests. Also, once Covid set in, Peerless Hospital quickly moved to increase the number of isolation beds along with critical care beds and has treated over 1.25 lakh Covid 19 patients. Peerless Hospital has also administered over 80,000 Covid vaccines till date.
- What about the days to come?
We at PGFI have initiated a comprehensive transformation program across all our subsidiaries. As part of this transformation program, we are planning towards significantly accelerating our growth over the next few years. Additionally, as it is evident by now that Peerless has real potential to become a full fledged 2000 cr+ revenue earning group. All we have to do is dive deep into the transformations, and accordingly fuel our future growth. Also, along with business initiatives, a number of initiatives are also being undertaken to induce a strong culture of performance and ownership across the group. This includes contemporary HR policies, performance management systems, use of technology, etc.
All in all, concluding the interview and explaining in detail what is up ahead for PGFI, Supriyo Sinha, the Director Business Transformation and Corporate Strategy summarized –“Transformation is a journey that takes time and effort. We have started a number of initiatives across businesses. Some of them are already showing results. For example, our subsidiary businesses are together on track for a profit growth of over 35% this year. For the longer run, we have developed a group-level strategy which is now being rolled out for execution. We are also taking steps to ingrain a strong performance culture. The Peerless name stands for ‘trust and ethics’. We will never compromise on those values as we progress.”
- How effective is the CSR obligation at Peerless?
Peerless has always been an organization with deep social commitments. Peerless has set up a trust named BK Roy Foundation Trust, under which various social impact initiatives are undertaken. Among those, two initiatives deserve special mention – Peerless Skill Academy and GAP.
Peerless Skill Academy
Peerless has also made significant contributions in the field of skilling in collaboration with the Ramakrishna Mission and Math. Through its unit named Peerless Skill Academy, under the BK Roy Foundation, Peerless has skilled more than 11,000 students and made them job-ready in various sectors like Hospitality, Healthcare, Media, Handicrafts, Automotive, Electronics, etc.
The Gadadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa (GAP) is a shining example of Peerless’ contribution in the development of children. This Prakalpa, run across Bengal, has emphasized on the mental, physical and intellectual development of under-privileged children from slum areas. Named after the childhood name of Sri Ramakrishna, this Prakalpa was launched in the year 2010 by the Ramakrishna Mission, and Peerless has been an integral partner all through.