Another top priority in FY23 will be to continue working with investee companies in which IndiaMart had acquired stakes in, says Prateek Chandra.
B2B E-commerce firm IndiaMART CFO Prateek Chandra is eying an increase of 35,000 new customers in FY23 and has plans to hire 200-300 people every quarter, betting on robust business activity even as concerns over high inflation linger on.
“FY23 will be a year of investments. We will be significantly investing in strengthening channel partners’ network and in hiring talent across service, sales, product and tech functions. Overall, we are looking at about 35,000 new paying customers… We have plans to hire 200-300 people every quarter. We hope for faster business activity compared to last year” IndiaMART CFO Prateek Chandra told ETCFO.
IndiaMART ended FY22 with 169,000 paying customers; the company added 17,000 new customers, a growth rate of 13% compared to the year-ago mark of 152,000 customers, the CFO shared. A 35,000 addition, on the current base of 169,000, if achieved as targeted, would take the company’s total customer base over the 200,000 mark.
IndiaMart added about 1,000 employees in FY22 taking the total headcount to roughly 3,700. Its employee count had declined in the pandemic-hit FY21 to about 2,700 from 3,150 mark in the preceding year, the CFO shared.
The IndiaMART CFO said his top goal in FY23 is to acquire new customers and does not expect any major challenge in it. But small to mid-sized businesses have been facing frequent economic law changes or other disruptions over the past five years or so, alluding to demonetization, goods and services tax reform, liquidity crisis emanating from IL&FS default, and the most recent pandemic, he said. And in this backdrop, he emphasised, their business environment needs to be continuously monitored.
“These set of changes can impact customer addition growth, but we are seeing buoyancy in economic activity. This is reflected in the latest April record GST collections too. We hope the business momentum continues,” the CFO said. Also, the CFO expressed enthusiasm on collections from the customers and the deferred revenue, sharing that the company had grown 31% and 25%,year-on-year respectively on these two counts. He reflected a similar sentiment for the current financial year FY23.
Another top priority in FY23 will be to continue working with investee companies in which IndiaMart had acquired stakes in, he said. In April, IndiaMart acquired 100% equity ownership in Busy Infotech Private Limited for Rs 500 crore.
Prateek Chandra said high inflation, too, could hamper growth in customer addition, but he hoped the Russia-Ukraine war, which is seen to be driving this high inflation in the first place, comes to an end sooner rather than later.
The CFO was clear that his focus will be on customer addition growth and that margins improvement won’t be much of a priority. Though he added that he does not see the margins getting further hit from here on and that he can sustain them. IndiaMart’s margins plunged to 28% in Q4 FY22 compared to 48% in Q4FY21 as peoples’ costs shot up. People costs constituted about 60% of the total revenue or 75% of the total costs during the period, the CFO shared.
“I see inflation as a done deal. The industry is expecting it to range around 6-7% levels, and the RBI as well as the government are taking steps to contain it. It is unlikely it will come down unless the world has a solution to the Russia-Ukraine war. Hopefully, things won’t escalate from here,” Prateek Chandra said.
The CFO said he does not intend to pass on the higher input costs to its customers at least for the entry-level packages. “We are cautious of the price increases. We will not increase our pricing for entry level packages, and even for high level or platinum ones, only small increases may be there,” the CFO said.
IndiaMART is a B2B e-commerce company; it clocked Rs 750 crores revenue in FY22, a growth of 13% year-on-year. About 95% of the company’s revenues come from subscriptions.