Mr. Kanwar said the pandemic brought disruption of the business and everyday life.
"As a global company with plants in three countries and employees in many more, it was a challenging time for us as we had to understand multiple scenarios," he said. "The situation was different in each country and also kept changing fast. We could not have a uniform approach and had to learn quickly to live with the added complexity. I think the first and foremost focus of the leadership was to ensure the safety of all our Apollo Family members who were working in the plants, at offices and from home."
Apollo, he said, created an "entire eco-system" to keep employees safe at the plants and working remotely and continuing business as usual. Despite adjusting, demand dropped sharply across the globe for parts of 2020, and that has been felt in 2021.
"We have always spoken about profitable growth and yet the impact of the pandemic on the economy and our business was such that for the first time in over two decades, we announced a net loss in the first quarter of the financial year," he said.
The pandemic forced the company to define "good cost" to trim expenses to maintain investment in research and development and marketing.
"It is my firm belief that we need to drive unnecessary cost out of our business, as that is the delta between a profitable and a losing organization in this increasingly global industry."
Mr. Kanwar said the company's previous investment into a greenfield plant in Chennai was timed in a way Apollo got a lead on the competition in India by 18 months.
"Similarly, even during the pandemic, our strategy of future-proofing the company helped us to commission our seventh manufacturing unit globally, and the fifth in India, in Andhra Pradesh. We also inaugurated our two-wheeler radial tire facility in Gujarat as we set our eyes on building a leadership position in highly profitable premium two-wheeler market," he said.
The company expanded its product line and dealer network with a focus on virtual and digital tools.
"Apollo virtually launched the new identity of our product brand Vredestein and this will allow us to position the brand, which has a legacy of over 110 years, as an even more premium brand and take our marketing activities to the next level," he said.