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India's eco-friendly stance on plastic pollution reduction

India’s eco-friendly position on plastic pollution reduction

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Action against pollution is growing and India is emerging as a country willing to take a tough stance on the . It’s previous announcement on eliminating single use plastics in the country by 2022 has won praise from the UN and now, it has amended a rule to end the importation of plastic waste into the country. This week we highlight India’s eco credentials and why it’s the perfect country for the eco hospitality industry.

India’s promotes eco-friendly policy through plastic pollution reduction

India’s commitment to reducing plastic pollution was further highlighted last week, by high praise from the UN Environment acting Executive Director and a new directive from the Election Commission, for political parties to avoid the use of single-use plastics during campaigning.

Both these developments follow the country’s plan to ban single-use plastics in the country by 2022 and also, a March amendment to its Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, which bans the import of waste plastics across the entire country.

While India isn’t alone in its commitment to limit the level of plastic waste around the world, due to the sheer size of its population, the success of such plans would prove a huge boon for the broader eco-friendly cause.

Praise for India’s tough stance on single use plastics

The UN Environment acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya, told independent India newswire, IANS, that the countries plan to eliminate single use plastics in less than five years was “a tremendous move by the Government”.

That announcement was made by the Indian government in August 2018 and has been followed up more recently, with an amendment to an existing rule regarding the importation of plastic waste.

Previously, India had banned such activity, with the exception of certain zones around the country. A number of companies worked to evade the ban by operating in those zones. That led to a notable increase in the amount of plastic waste that was imported into a country that already creates some 9 million tonnes of its own plastic waste, each year.

From August 31st 2019, that activity will cease and India can turn to finding suitable ways to recycle more of its own waste, than the less than 50% it currently manages. Once the importation of 48,000 tonnes per year of plastic waste stops, India can then begin working on sustainable solutions to manage its own single-use problem.

However, while ending the importation of plastic waste is good for the local environment, its less beneficial on an economic front. It’s possible

An eco-conscious country

As this recent eco-friendly and anti-plastic pollution action highlights, India is not among those countries who doesn’t believe the science behind the pollution headlines. Indeed, it’s a country that is taking more steps than many others to put sustainability and an eco-conscience at the heart of its future growth.

That’s an attitude and outlook that we at Red Ribbon identify with. Yes, we work hard at uncovering investment opportunities that produce the right level of returns. But also, we only consider the creation and support of sustainable businesses and projects. Ideas that will help support the global environment and reduce the amount of energy and natural resource hungry developments, that remain popular among other investment plans.

Eco-hospitality is an industry that is growing in size and popularity, two important details supportive of a healthy return on investment.

The creation of the economical and ecological, carbon neutral Eco Hotel, is something that attracts many visitors. Not only from the millions of people from within India who enjoy travelling around the country, while exerting their eco-conscience at the same time. But also, holiday-makers around the world who want to enjoy India’s scenery and culture without impacting on it, in any way.

This latest raft of news highlights that India is the perfect location for the Eco Hotel brand to begin its journey. We know it will help support the country’s economy for many years to come, just as the country and government has supported the development of a carbon neutral, sustainable, eco hospitality industry.

 

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose says:

As an entrepreneur and business man, I’ve always understood India’s desire and ability to become a country that will support the right business ideas that can, not only have lasting and positive impact on a national scale, but on a global one too

That’s why Red Ribbon has been there every step of the way as Eco Hotels was developed and has become a popular destination for holidaymakers of every type, including those with a keenly developed eco-conscience.

Eco Hotels’ carbon neutral design is something that can work across different countries, continents and landscapes and now is the right time to support and invest in sustainable, eco-hospitality.

Eco Hospitality benefits India economy - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

How Eco Hospitality provides a double benefit for India’s economy

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How Eco Hospitality provides a double benefit for India’s economy

The World Bank’s January 2019 Global Prospects Report shows that the United Nations institution continues to expect economic growth across India to expand in 2019 and beyond. The group’s estimate for full-year GDP growth in 2018 is for 7.3%. Meanwhile, the World Bank is also anticipating that level to rise to full-year GDP growth of 7.5% in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

There are many details that go into a forecast like this, which means it is an absolutely achievable and likely outcome. However, if some of the assumptions made in those forecasts don’t proceed as expected. Or, something completely unexpected occurs, then India’s economy could either exceed or fail to achieve that forecast rate of growth.

Another interesting figure that has recently been published about India’s economy, comes from the Indian Government’s Ministry of Statistics. According to its 2018 Environmental statistics, the natural capital in 11 of India’s states has declined. Natural Capital “refers to all types of environmental assets existing in the environment” according to the report.

Once again, a lot of work and details go into creating these data and stats to produce reliable and correct information.
The figures in that painstakingly generated report suggest that, at least in some parts of India, pure economic growth is being achieved at the expense of the country’s natural capital, or native environment. And that’s not something that can be allowed to continue unchecked. At least not if the economy is to remain on a long-term and sustainable, positive economic growth path.

 

Sustainable, eco-industry

With that in mind, we now turn to a specific part of India’s growing economy, the Eco, or green sector. While much thought is being put into how to ensure residential building and consumer habits are increasingly sustainable and Eco-friendly, another key area in which India is already developing an Eco-footprint in, is hospitality.

For a country that welcomed over 10 million overseas tourists during 2017 – an increase of 14% in number and 15.4% in income generation – it’s a sizable industry. In GDP terms, the total contribution from travel and tourism across India made up 9.4% of India’s GDP in 2017, likely rising to around 17% in 2018, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

If, however, efforts into supporting and growing the eco-hospitality sector of the travel and tourism industry continue, or even gain pace, not only will green hotels, eco holiday destinations and sustainable tourist hot spots generate welcome income for the economy, it will also help improve and even expand the country’s natural capital. That’s something that’s a double boon for the sub-continent that consistently strives to develop, advance and improve.

Eco Hotels is among the green businesses that are investing in India’s economy, in a sustainable way. The world’s first carbon neutral, mid-market hotel brand has been operating since 2012 and is a popular option, for businesses, investors and also among those travellers who include Eco credentials in their search for holiday accommodation.

Growing India’s eco-hospitality sector is something that is will undoubtedly help ensure the country’s travel and tourism industry will contribute to both the financial GDP figures and its nature capital. But, even better, positive eco changes in one country actually contribute to green credentials and work towards stopping climate change on a global basis too.

With so many benefits to be gained from Eco hospitality, there’s little doubt as to just how valuable it is to India’s economic, business and green ambitions.

Red Ribbon is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral hotel brand which offers “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India designed to take advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent. The brand meets all key sustainability criteria without compromising on either quality or standards of hospitality and is designed to cater for commercial and recreational travellers alike.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Understanding the full implications of the way in which a country achieves economic expansion is an essential part of working towards maximising that country’s growth potential, while also making sure all the ingredients required to continue growing and innovating remain available. While the 11 states experiencing a decline in their nature capital account for fewer than half of India’s regions, its not something that should be ignored.

With Eco Hotels, Red Ribbon is putting both India’s economy and nature capital at the heart of its investment strategy. Combatting climate change, promoting sustainable industry and creating profitable carbon neutral businesses, is the right way to create an investment that will remain popular and relevant for years to come.

India Economic Evolution - Republic Day - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

India’s economic fortunes in the 70 years since gaining independence

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India’s economic fortunes in the 70 years since gaining independence

This year’s Republic Day in India marks the 70th anniversary since it truly became an independent country, with its first elected President after the withdrawal of British rule in 1947. Since then, every year on January 26th, the nation celebrates its hard-won achievement.

India’s first elected President was Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who took his oath at the Durbar Hall in Government House. Since that time, India has proudly voted for its own President during elections and celebrates that independence with joy and jubilation.

Of course, the year is now 2019 and many things have changed since 1950. Ram Nath Kovind is the country’s 14th President, with Narendra Modi serving as Prime Minister. The economic landscape is very different from 70 years ago and it continues to transform further as a combination of financial, digital and ecological developments demand.

Economic output

It’s never easy to gain a true comparison of economic performance between years gone by and any given year in today’s era. However, the available data does give an idea of the make up of economic growth and also the rate at which a country expands – or contracts.

Given India’s size, population, agricultural performance and the more recent growth of eCommerce and finance, you likely won’t be surprised to find that the current pace of GDP growth is superior compared to the rates of growth achieved in 1950.

Data from India’s Central Statistics Office shows that GDP growth in the 1951-52 financial year was 2.3%, with the main contributor to that growth, being the agricultural sector.

Until recently, academics have placed India’s average rate of GDP growth at somewhere between the 3.5% to 4.5% level. But that average is well below the 7.5% rate of GDP growth anticipated for 2018 and also that masks many peaks and changes in the country’s fortunes and chosen paths.

The official data show that after some notable peaks and troughs, GDP has been broadly positive and even prosperous since the 1980s. India’s economic landscape, however, has shown a consistent picture of agriculture losing its place as the major part of the economy, being replaced by the services sector.

Where agriculture made up over half of activity and profits in the 1950s, it now accounts for around 18% of GDP growth, despite employing close to 50% of its population. The services sector, meanwhile, has doubled from a proportion of around 30% of GDP in the 1950’s to the 60% mark, today.

This switch between the dominance of two key industries across India highlights the way technology and digitisation have evolved and been embraced across the country and indeed, the world. While some pain has been felt along the way during that transformation, it also shows that even though it is a huge country with an impressive population, it is able to recognise when change is required and crucially, to implement that change.

Modern economic drivers

Republic Day is a wonderful to day to remember that after 20 years of struggling to gain independence, it was finally achieved. It is also a day to reflect on how, as an independent country, India has chosen to adapt to and even welcome wide-reaching changes, today.

Technology and digitization is something that has affected every industry and by embracing that, the future for India’s economy has become brighter.

Manufacturing has changed thanks to the way technology has enhanced its capabilities and made it a safer environment for its workers. Meanwhile, tourism and eco-hospitality are also examples of where the abilities of technology, combined with the wants of a modern society, can be incorporated to produce something that not only services the needs of consumers, but also the needs of the environment in the name of sustainability.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Republic Day is a special day, not only because of the celebrations that mark its passing, but also because it underscores that as a country, India is always moving forward, developing and achieving thanks to its own population and ability to embrace change.

Red Ribbon embodies that sentiment and our investment in industries such as modular construction, through Modulex and the eco-hospitality sector, with Eco-Hotels, show that we’re always looking towards supporting a prosperous future for India’s economy and vast population.

We look forward to continuing to play our part in India’s future, participating to the utmost in the opportunities the subcontinent’s explosive growth has to offer and at the same time providing above market rate returns from our investors in what I am convinced will continue to be one of the world’s most exciting markets for many years to come.

Eco Tourism Odisha - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

How Eco-Tourism is generating economic boost for India

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How Eco-Tourism is generating economic boost for India’s Odisha state

Eco-tourism is becoming an increasingly important part of India’s economic growth. Just take a look at the state of Odisha. Located on the on the Eastern coast of India, on the Bay of Bengal, Odisha’s investment into eco-tourism is beginning to pay off, as it’s expected to generate some Rs6 Crore (£ 700,000) in revenue by the end of the 2018-19 financial year and providing a boost to local Government coffers.

As the popularity of the sector continues to grow, so too will the India Government’s return on its investment.

Of course, this economic benefit hasn’t happened overnight. However, nor has it taken as long as one might anticipate. The Odisha State Government has invested some Rs34 crore (£ 4 million) during the 2016-17 to 2018-19 financial years, into 37 separate eco-tourism locations across the state.

The eco-tourism offerings, created and managed by Odisha’s Forest and Environment Department are expected to reach Rs 10 crore (£ 1 Million) in the 2019-20 financial year, according to the department’s chief conservator of Forests and wildlife.

As you can see, even though the end of the current fiscal period has not yet arrived, the region is already seeing notable revenue generation form its investments, with further growth anticipated. That highlights the popularity of eco-tourism and hospitality as a something that’s more than a passing trend.

For the Indian sub-continent, which is awash with natural beauty and a growing desire to enhance that, with green, eco-friendly and carbon neutral hotels and other hospitality sector developments, now is the perfect time to support that ambition. Not only does it give tourists – from both India and the rest of the world – the opportunity to retain their eco-consciousness even when they travel far afield. But it also provides an option for investors to make socially responsible and sustainable financial decisions, too.

That’s essentially why opting for sustainable and eco-friendly investments is a good decision right now; they provide an option for travellers, countries and investors, who hold to environmental ideals that are now possible.

But Odisha isn’t the only region in India to pursue eco-friendly tourism. There are a growing number of mid-market eco-hotels that are continuing to expand across India. We’ve previously highlighted how Lemon Tree hotels is already proving a success in terms of cost controls and room occupancy rates.

Our own carbon neutral hotel group Eco Hotels, meanwhile, builds on everything we’ve mentioned here – and more. Demand for hotels across India is strong and rising, boosted in part, by the increasing middle-classes of the region.

Creating an eco-friendly hotel chain fulfills all the needs that we have identified:

  • The growing number of hotels across the subcontinent.
  • Creating sustainable, carbon neutral tourism options.
  • Giving investors peace of mind that their decision to support Eco Hotels, is a socially and environmentally responsible one, as well as a sound financial one.

Red Ribbon is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral hotel brand which offers “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India designed to take advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent. The brand meets all key sustainability criteria without compromising on either quality or standards of hospitality and is designed to cater for commercial and recreational travellers alike.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

The quick and impressive revenue generation from the commitment of an entire Indian state to eco-friendly tourism, only works to highlight our belief that socially and environmentally responsible developments and investment decisions, are the right path for, not only Red Ribbon, but the broader investment community.

Eco hotels, that are created to provide business and leisure travellers with the accommodation they desire, in the location of their choice, is just one way we are supporting this view. With demand for such options growing both domestically and internationally, the Eco Hotels brand is proud to be built with carbon neutrality and green credentials as part of its fundamental core.

I’m proud that Eco Hotels have done just that from the very beginning of the project, and proud too of the part Red Ribbon has played in developing the brand and its ambitions in the succeeding years, spearheading an environmentally friendly response to India’ resurgent tourism demands.

Key Benefits Modular Construction - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

Key Benefits of Modular Construction

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Right now, the demand and requirement for residential and commercial property across India remains elevated. And, true to form, the relevant industries are supporting that need in the best way they can – constructing buildings. However, having relied upon mainly traditional methods for so long, that’s the go to option in many cases.

Enter modern, modular construction.

Modular construction techniques have come a long way since the first attempts in the 1800s. Indeed, they’ve even evolved and improved vastly in the past 10 years. That’s part of what makes it a big part of the answer to India’s requirement for homes and business premises. Add to that the easier property construction regulation under forward thinking Prime Minister Modi’s RERA act and modular construction is most definitely an option drawing increased interest. Not only across India, but globally, too.

There are many reasons why that should be the case and is now becoming so.

Why modular construction is an essential part of the solution to India’s housing needs

Because modular construction is an excellent way to create housing and commercial properties of all shapes and sizes, quickly and relatively affordably. This has helped encourage thought and investment into the industry, with extremely positive results.

That’s not to say it should completely take over traditional property construction methods. There’s absolutely room for all kinds of skills and ways of building. However, modular construction is no longer a final thought or last option. It’s right up front with all the other property construction methods, which is exactly where it should be.

Its cost-effective

When it comes to building property, its not something that could ever realistically be described as ‘cheap’. One thing that makes modular construction a more cost-effective building option is the use of set, factory-based methods.

This is particularly relevant for apartment blocks, or developments where properties will feature the same internal layout. Having a set pattern for the off-site, factory construction, means fewer plans, designs and templates are required. This also helps support a more efficient work-rate. In addition, among the various ‘major costs’ of on-site construction, is the wages of builders, supervisors and other professionals, who need to be there. With modular construction, many of the builders only need to be on the actual building site for between a quarter and half of the time they would on traditional build.

Eco-credentials

Building property will always have pros and cons. Among the cons is the amount of waste and also the often-difficult task of ensuring all required energy efficiencies are made-to-measure and in place from the beginning. Utilising a purpose-built modular factory dramatically improves waste control. That’s borne of working to specific measurements in an environment that makes it easy to order only exactly what you need.

That’s not to say that traditional building methods aren’t precise and materials ordered accordingly. But, without such controlled conditions, over-ordering and materials waste is notably higher. But that’s not the only green credential modular construction techniques lay claim to.

By constructing all the internal wall panels and other elements of a modular building in a factory, it’s much simpler to ensure all the required energy efficiencies are fully installed, at source in the right way. This makes any eco-friendly options easier to safely install in the factory. Solar panels, water saving features and suitable heat conservation, or air circulation requirements can be handled in a controlled, measurable way, using the right materials and methods.

Modulex Construction is the World’s largest and India’s first Steel Modular Building Company, setting out to meet the challenges posed by India’s urban housing shortages in a practical and dynamic manner. The company is at the heart of a project established by Red Ribbon to harness the potential of India’s markets and delivering opportunities for investors. Because, when it comes to investing on the subcontinent, nobody knows India and its markets better than Red Ribbon.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

India’s housing needs are no secret. But nor are the advances in techniques to help support faster and more cost-effective construction options. Add to that a supportive Government regulatory environment it begins to make sense that all types of reliable and suitable methods are put to good use. We, along with an increasing number of professionals, investors and industry specialists, know that modular construction is a major part of the answer to India’s housing needs.

Modular construction is already part of India – and the world’s – property development needs. And that’s something that is only going to increase as it becomes a major element of the construction landscape. Not only due to its speed of delivering the finished, habitable product, but also its cost-effectiveness, green credentials and sustainable factors it brings.  That’s why Red Ribbon was committed to Modulex Construction from the very beginning of the project and we remain committed to it today. I’m convinced it is not only a vital element in meeting market challenges but will also deliver on the unprecedented opportunities currently presented by the subcontinent’s burgeoning economy.

10 Reasons to Invest in India by Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

The place to be: 10 reasons to invest in India

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India’s economy and business landscape are changing, ushering in a period of growth, prosperity and investment opportunities. All the ingredients are in place for India to become a world leader investment destination.

Let’s look a little more closely at just a few of the more compelling reasons why investing in India is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss:

1. The Perfect Demographic For Growth: India is the fastest growing large economy on the planet. Its rapidly increasing population is predicted to overtake China by 2022, and become the largest in the world.

2. Exceptional Consumer Led Demand: A large part of the 1.34 billion people are increasingly sophisticated, technologically literate and wealthy.

3. Supportive Fiscal Regime: The government has been making radical changes to create a more business friendly environment. There is now a uniform tax regime (GST) across all 29 states of India, and introducing an affordable housing programme with additional tax breaks.

4. Dynamic Real Estate Market: India is experiencing an unprecedented demand for both domestic housing and commercial property. Real Estate investment in India’s six major cities doubled in the first half of 2017.

5. Vibrant Private Equity Sector: 2017 was the busiest year for more than a decade for private equity deals in India, with total investments of £16.84 billion.

6. Unprecedented Infrastructure Spending: There is a public infrastructure programme of moving scale. This includes 83,677 km of new road being built over the next 5 years (The UK’s motorway network is a little over 3,000 km).

7. Regulatory Certainty: The government has been decisive. Demonetisation has removed much of the ‘black economy’ and over 6,000 companies suspected of improper activities have been closed. Arbitration and court procedures have been overhauled and sped up.

8. Global Trading Hub: Major international companies, such as Virgin and Amazon are now moving to India to invest in and participate in the expansion.

9. World Leading Computer Technology: India is now recognised globally as a technology powerhouse, with an increasingly IT literate population.

10. Stable Federal Structure: India’s federal structure offers highly effective risk management, that helps protect the economy from any unpredictable events. Which means that investors are more than ever protected against localised market risk.

For these reasons and more, India is now one of the most exciting places to invest. At Red Ribbon, we use our expertise and resources to identify the investment opportunities that have the potential of delivering superior returns to our investors.

Nobody understands that potential for growth better than Red Ribbon Asset Management, which has placed India at the very heart of its investment strategies since the company was founded more than a decade ago. With an unrivalled knowledge of market conditions on the subcontinent, Red Ribbon offers a unique opportunity to share in that vast potential.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

India is more than just an exciting investment opportunity, it’s also a driver to global economic growth and that’s why Red Ribbon has long held the view that no investment portfolio can be considered properly balanced unless at least 10% of its holdings are deployed in Growth Markets and, of course, for us that has always meant India in particular.

At Red Ribbon we are very proud to have been playing our own part in India’s economic resurgence over the last decade, investing in just the kind of projects that are at the heart of the interlocking triangle of growth mentioned in the article: everything from the modular construction technologies now being developed by Modulex so as to deliver affordable housing at the pace demanded by the subcontinent’s urban expansion, through to innovative sustainable energy infrastructure investment. And to see India now firmly established at its place on the economic top table, uniquely well placed to move further forward still is, of course, a particular source of pride for us.

We look forward to continuing to play our part in India’s future, participating to the utmost in the opportunities the subcontinent’s explosive growth has to offer and at the same time providing above market rate returns from our investors in what I am convinced will continue to be one of the world’s most exciting markets for many years to come.

The Eco Hotel Phenomenon and Donald Trump’s observations- Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

The Eco Hotel Phenomenon and Donald Trump’s observations

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What turns a run of the mill, resource hungry hotel into an Eco Hotel and why does it matter? Well, the clue lies partly in the question: an Eco Hotel isn’t resource hungry at all. Instead of gobbling away at all before it, an Eco Hotel sips and nibbles at its key resources: energy, water and raw materials. Eco Hotels are hard wired to save water and minimise on energy and waste material usage. But what about the second part of the question: why does any of this matter? Look no further than last week’s US National Climate Change Assessment, the work of 300 scientists and 13 Federal Agencies which concluded that “ Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilisation, primarily as a result of human activities…” Donald Trump may have dismissed the three-inch thick report out of hand as “largely based on the most extreme scenario”, but virtually nobody else is.

And for a President so intent on wrapping himself in a mantle of economic competence (and hotel owner to boot), the supreme irony is that key policies at the heart of a concerted response to adverse climate change are now proving to be drivers of commercial growth too. Eco Hotels are a case in point.

By definition, a non resource hungry hotel will also have reduced operating costs: it’s also likely to have reduced liabilities, will generally produce a higher return on relatively low risk investments and also deliver greater profitability across the board than its more resource hungry counterparts. Those are the hard conclusions arrived at in the seminal sector report for the subcontinent “Green Hotels and Sustainable Hotel Operations in India” and, perhaps inevitably, the markets haven’t been slow to see their potential either. Green hotels are more popular than ever on the subcontinent and if you need solid evidence of that, look no further than the explosive growth of Lemon Tree Hotels after the company’s successful IPO earlier this year.

Donald Trump could usefully brush up on his bedtime reading before leaving the West Wing to resume control of his own hotel chain …

The travelling public (business and leisure) is now increasingly aware of the importance of environmental compliance when it comes to choosing a hotel room, and the current surge in demand on the subcontinent is running well ahead of supply: not least because India’s tourist numbers have reached unprecedented levels in absolute terms as well.

But when it comes to meeting this burgeoning demand in practice, something much more is required than simply re-branding an existing hotel with “green credentials”. Key consumption variables have to be built in from the very beginning of the construction phase: making water saving devices and waste reduction part of the DNA of the hotel from the outset of the project. That’s why Eco Hotels are being built with solar tubing that reflects light across the hotel day and night, resulting in electricity bills that are roughly half those of a conventional hotel and its properties also has a single kitchen which dramatically reduces the carbon footprint. All those savings go straight to the bottom line.

Red Ribbon is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral hotel brand which offers “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India designed to take advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent. The brand meets all key sustainability criteria without compromising on either quality or standards of hospitality and is designed to cater for commercial and recreational travellers alike.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

The boom in Indian tourism (both domestically and internationally) is currently playing a huge part in driving forward the subcontinent’s resurgent hotel and hospitality sector, and as the article says eco credentials are playing a bigger part than ever in determining where this burgeoning tide of travellers are deciding to stay. Recent surveys confirm so called “green credentials” are high up on the scale of priorities when they come to make their choice.

And as the article also says, meeting that demand is certainly not just a matter of a last minute rebranding. To deliver properly on green credentials, the hotel has to be built with eco compliance as part of its structure (from the ground up). Only by doing this will cost savings and sustainability criteria properly come together in the future operation of the hotel, delivering the range of benefits described in the article.

I’m proud that Eco Hotels have done just that from the very beginning of the project, and proud too of the part Red Ribbon has played in developing the brand and its ambitions in the succeeding years, spearheading an environmentally friendly response to India’ resurgent tourism demands.

India Mid Market Hotels - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

How and why mid-market hotels are taking over India’s branded sector

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In the late 1980’s Esso commissioned a survey of its UK customers and found less than 7% travelled onto Mainland Europe with their cars. Why this reticence on the part of families clearly capable of making their way from Poole to Provence in an overcrowded Metro? And no, it’s not what you think: back in those days we hadn’t even thought of Brexit. As Esso found out, there was a more homely explanation: the Continent simply had far fewer automated pumps on its forecourts, so drivers were in danger of having to talk with an attendant and you know how the English are with languages. Better leave the car behind than risk the unseemly spectacle of sign language on the forecourt with a Frenchman.

And when you think about it, that’s all quite interesting. It’s the reason petrol stations have gradually come to look exactly the same all over the world: with the pumps all roughly in the same place, all self service and roughly the same kind of shop to pay in. It’s why you can now buy a burger (from a screen) in identical McDonalds outlets from Vienna to Vladivostok without once having to speak a word of German or Russian, and it’s why Esso long made sure you can buy your petrol the same way. There’s simply no need to leave the car at home anymore…so we don’t. We buy more petrol instead and everyone’s happy.

Economists call this phenomenon Brand Synergy and until recently India’s mid-market Hotel Sector was widely perceived to be more or less dead to its charms. A senior analyst on the subcontinent memorably (and anonymously) put it as follows: “…it was like an airline that uses a Boeing 747 for travel between Delhi and Mumbai, a Dakota for Kolkata-Delhi, and a Dornier for Bengaluru-Pune”. The poor old travellers never knew what to expect when they got there. Just like trying to buy petrol by word of mouth.

But not anymore…

The subcontinent’s mid-market Hotels including Ibis Styles, Lemon Tree Hotels and Eco Hotels have all made progress over the last decade in adopting a much more uniform approach to product profiling, achieving a consistency in specification that has now seen the mid-market secure nearly half the branded hotel sector: spurred on, no doubt, by an increasing number of private equity investors, none of whom are noted for being slow in recognising brand synergies when they see them.

All of which has made the mid-market uniquely well placed to take advantage of the surge in India’s middle class and increasingly urbanised travellers that has doubled airline occupancy rates over the last seven years.  And with the average cost of building a mid-market room coming in at between Rs 3 Million and Rs 7 Million, breaking even within six years, it all makes bottom line economic sense too. Compare that with the larger branded chains where average construction cost for each room is Rs 15 Million and break even takes 15 years: more than twice as long.  In the past 10 years alone the mid-market has expanded at more than 15% annually (according to Howarth HTL) and now accounts for 43% of total branded stock.

Having got away its successful IPO earlier this year (raising Rs 311 Crore from key investors), Lemon Tree Hotels last week took the trend a stage further by launching its brand overseas: signing a deal for the first of its hotels to open in Dubai next year. It will be the first mid-market hotel on the luxury studded Al Wasi Road, sitting literally in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab and Al Waleed Real Estate’s CEO didn’t miss the significance:  “There was a need for a mid-market hotel of this calibre in this location and India has been the largest source of tourists into Dubai, as well as the UAE as a whole, for over three years now.” To save you Googling it up, the exact figure is 13%: India now accounts for a whopping 13% of total tourist numbers into the Emirates, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody given the subcontinent’s wealth and proximity as well as the population’s found mobility.

And now they’ll recognise at least one familiar, distinctively Indian hotel brand when they get there…Plus ca change.

Red Ribbon Asset Management is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral mid-market hotel brand, offering “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India which intended to take full advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent. The brand offers sustainable living without compromising on standards of hospitality and is designed to cater to commercial and recreational travellers alike.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Working as part of the Eco Hotels Project has certainly taught me the importance of branding and product profiling in the hospitality sector, so I was pleased to read about the renewed emphasis on branding generally and unsurprised to see that it has now increased the mid-market share to just shy of 50%. Monolithic 2000 room hotel chains are no longer the first choice for travellers, especially given all the evidence suggests they are increasingly looking for accommodation that also complements their preference for sustainability.

And that’s important because the boom in Indian tourism (domestically and internationally) is playing a significant part in driving forward the subcontinent’s resurgent hotel and hospitality sector. It’s certainly an area that cannot be overlooked when seeking out the best investment opportunities over the coming years.

That’s why I’m very proud that Red Ribbon has played such a significant role in the creation and development of the Eco Hotels Project, spearheading the response to that demand in an environmentally friendly manner.

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Modular Construction: the answer to the shortage of skills in India

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Most Indians work in agriculture but next comes construction, and according to the latest Economic Survey the subcontinent’s real estate and construction sector is likely to create more than 15 Million jobs over the next five years, that’s three million every year. To put that in perspective less than 3 Million people are currently employed in the entire UK construction industry. And of the 52 Million building workers employed by Indian companies, 90% are involved in on-site construction with the other 10% busily painting, plumbing and wiring the finished product. It’s fair to say all these painters, plumbers and electricians are skilled workers…but not so the other 90%.

Because the vast majority of India’s construction workers are either minimally skilled or have no skills at all: an astonishing 97% of them aged between 15 and 65 will receive no formal training of any kind before starting work on site and, plumbers and painters aside, most of the skilled workers won’t be getting any cement dust on their boots because they’re probably office based clerks, technicians and engineers. And that’s a real problem…

It’s a problem, because coming the other way down India’s infrastructure and logistics superhighway is an unprecedented surge in demand for urban housing, fuelled by an increasingly urbanised population projected to become the biggest on the planet by 2022. India’s National Skill Development Council predicts that by then the real estate and construction sector will require a workforce of more than 66 Million, so without any obvious core of skilled workers currently able to sustain anything like growth it’s no wonder the sector is starting to show signs of stress.

Of course all this was supposed to be addressed by 2016’s Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act which was intended to act as a platform for local, State driven planning capable of creating an appropriate environment for improved training and regulatory structures, but so far six States out of 29 have failed to produce any plans at all under the legislation which means finding workers with the right skills in the right place will continue to be a source of real concern.

Billionaire developer Niranjan Hiranandani, head of Hiranandani Construction, has a simple enough solution: just pay unskilled workers less and reap the savings while you can. But that’s not a particularly attractive solution for anyone buying one of his apartments 76 floors up in the Mumbai skyline where quality assurance is far from being a dispensable extra. The behemoth that is Hindustan Construction Company perhaps takes a slightly more realistic approach, going on record last week to say that skills shortages have become a huge problem for the sector: 50% of its workforce needs advanced training just to use the complex machinery now prevalent on most modern building sites. With a heavy tone of understatement a spokesman for the company announced grandly that given these skilled workers are not available, “the only option is to train them”.

Well, it’s not quite the only option…

With no actual shortage of workers seeking employment in India’s urban conurbations, particularly in the light of a seemingly inexorable drift of former agricultural workers from country to town, what if the physical construction process itself could be de-skilled? Why not make a virtue of necessity and draw on this pool of former agricultural labourers to release the margins of between 20% to 70% that Deloitte India predict would follow from a wholesale deskilling initiative? These savings would go straight to the bottom line without endangering the quality and safety of the finished building. Skilled construction workers earn Rs 1,000 a day as opposed to their unskilled counterparts who earn an average of Rs 200.

And there is just such a business model on the market right now, a model with the potential to uncouple construction projects from a seemingly insoluble skills conundrum: it’s called Modular Construction.

Modern Modular technologies allow all of the building’s key components to be put together off site by specialist workers and then assembled locally at the same time as the site works are completed, not only reducing overall completion schedules by as much as 50% but also significantly reducing the need for skilled workers in the construction phase. All of the design and engineering disciplines are instead concentrated at the offsite manufacturing facility leading to labour, financing and supervision costs. Which will all be music to Mr Hiranandani’s ears…

Modulex Construction is the World’s largest and India’s first Steel Modular Construction Company, meeting the challenges of the subcontinent’s current urban housing shortages in a practical and focused manner. The company was founded by Red Ribbon as part of an innovative project to harness the potential of India’s dynamic and evolving real estate markets whilst at the same time delivering opportunities for investors through Red Ribbon platform. Because, when it comes to investing on the subcontinent, nobody knows India’s markets better than Red Ribbon.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Delivering on India’s stringent housing targets over the next five years presents an enormous challenge for the subcontinent, and that challenge is likely to get more testing still given the underlying demographics of a rapidly increasing and ever more urbanised population. Existing skills shortages within the construction sector have the potential to be a crucial block to meeting these targets, especially given the scale and scope of the training programmes necessary to release a further 3 Million workers into the sector every year for the next five years: never mind the attendant costs which are likely to be eye watering on any basis.

That’s why to my mind the answer has to be Modular Construction. No conventional technologies can beat it for sheer pace of delivery and, with a centralising of skilled labour in the offsite manufacturing facility, it will beat conventional construction methods hands down on overall profitability too.

An Ambition for Growth - India Economic Miracle - Red Ribbon Asset Management

An Ambition for Growth: The Roots of India’s Economic Miracle

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Currently locked in a peculiar species of death roll with her backbenchers, Theresa May still (to her credit) seems intent on securing an orderly exit from the EU by 2020, but most economic commentators are forecasting a long term decline in UK GDP however “soft” the exit terms might be. Price Waterhouse for one are predicting that within a decade of exit, by 2030 the United Kingdom will have fallen to tenth place in Global GDP, behind Mexico and Indonesia and a whisker ahead of Turkey and France (which has a certain irony in the circumstances). And the same survey predicts that by 2030 India will have risen to third place in the global league, treading hard on the heels of China and the United States in first and second place respectively. But unlike the former mother country there is no suggestion that the subcontinent’s remorseless ambition for growth will lose any of its momentum over the course of the next half century.

China had better watch out…

The subcontinent’s economic ambition has been powered by a combination of progressive (some might say revolutionary) economic policies on the part of Prime Minister Modi’s Government (think demonetisation), coupled with a burgeoning and increasingly middle class population fuelling an unprecedented surge in consumer demand. But in a subtle and complex take on that dynamic, McKinsey this month published a fascinating report concluding that India’s explosive growth has just as much to do with interlocking trends in agriculture, urbanisation and mobility.

Take the first element in that triumvirate: agriculture. For decades now (at least the last thirty years), India has pursued an aggressive policy of agricultural self-sufficiency which has not only made the farming lobby one of the most powerful political forces in the country but has also delivered growth rates in the sector that are the envy of most of its near neighbours (indeed, the envy of most farmers anywhere in the world). But despite this, as McKinsey also point out, Indian agriculture still faces a spectrum of uniquely local challenges: severe water shortages alternating with devastating monsoons, combined with often antiquated supply structures and what McKinsey quaintly call a “limited exposure to high productivity practices”: in other words, a lack of investment in the latest farming technology.

That’s where the subtlety comes in…The Indian Government has re-calibrated its agricultural policy to shift the emphasis away from output targets, replacing them with a system of local subsidies designed to buttress farmers’ income (a policy that roused the never less than exuberant President Trump to bring proceedings against India again before the WTO). It was a smart shift in direction too because the new policy will almost certainly double agricultural wage rates by 2022 and, in a characteristically Keynesian frame of mind, the Modi Government are betting that with more money in their pockets India’s farmers will now start investing more in new technology. It can’t do much to stop monsoons but it can, as McKinsey would no doubt put it, “increase exposure to high productivity practices”.

That same factor feeds into the second limb of McKinsey’s triumvirate: urbanisation. More than 200 Million of India’s rural population are expected to move into its urban conurbations over the next 15 years and for those with the instinct to move rather than invest locally, improved agricultural subsidies are giving them a store of money to do it with. And, the Modi Administration is playing to its strengths on this too with a new Smart Cities Mission designed to meet the additional, affordable housing required to cope with resulting surges in demand, reducing urban pollution levels and increasing resource productivity and economic development through enhanced infrastructure programmes. You don’t need to look any further to find the real roots of India’s economic miracle.

And what about mobility: the third element of the McKinsey triumvirate? Well, that’s coming along nicely too with India now expected to become the world’s third largest passenger vehicle market by 2021. It’s not just that the subcontinent offers the same, parallel opportunities and challenges as other western and developing markets, it is offering them with a turbo charger attached. Many of those 200 Million people who are moving from village to town over the next 15 years will want (and get) a car, paying for it with the increased wages earned from working on all those new infrastructure projects; and their family and friends who stayed in the country and invested in new agricultural technology will probably want (and get) a new car too. You need to keep up with your cousins in town!

That, in essence, is what we mean by an interlocking economic structure, and it’s here that we can find the real roots of India’s explosive growth. Just wait to see what happens next…

Nobody understands that potential for growth better than Red Ribbon Asset Management, which has placed India at the very heart of its investment strategies since the company was founded more than a decade ago. With an unrivalled knowledge of market conditions on the subcontinent, Red Ribbon offers a unique opportunity to share in that vast potential.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

At Red Ribbon we are very proud to have been playing our own part in India’s economic resurgence over the last decade, investing in just the kind of projects that are at the heart of the interlocking triangle of growth mentioned in the article: everything from the modular construction technologies now being developed by Modulex so as to deliver affordable housing at the pace demanded by the subcontinent’s urban expansion, through to innovative sustainable energy infrastructure investment. And to see India now firmly established at its place on the economic top table, uniquely well placed to move further forward still is, of course, a particular source of pride for us.

We look forward to continuing to play our part in India’s future, participating to the utmost in the opportunities the subcontinent’s explosive growth has to offer and at the same time providing above market rate returns from our investors in what I am convinced will continue to be one of the world’s most exciting markets for many years to come.

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At Red Ribbon we understand that the transition towards a resilient global economy will be led by well-governed businesses in mainstream markets, striving to reduce the environmental impact of their production processes on society at large and on the environment as well.

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