Feature

Smooth operator

With a robust fleet and strong operational efficiency, VRL Logistics has done well. Will its winning streak last?

Photographs: Soumik Kar

From politician to publisher to businessman, Vijay Sankeshwar, head of logistics firm VRL Logistics, has certainly come a long way in life. 65-year-old Sankeshwar flagged off his goods transport company with a single truck in 1967, ferrying goods between Gadag and Hubballi, and has never looked back since. Skepticism from friends and family about deviating from the family business of publishing, the inherent difficulties of poor infrastructure, an apathetic government with policies not conducive to the business and an idea before its time didn’t deter him from taking his business forward. 

Today, the ₹1,504-crore (as of FY14) company operates more than 3,546 trucks (of which 1,166 are less than five years old, 2,375 are debt-free and 1,235 are fully depreciated) and has the largest fleet of commercial vehicles in the private sector in India. VRL provides general and priority parcel delivery services — known in logistics parlance as less-than-truckload services — courier services and full-truckload services through a network of 624 branches and 48 strategic transshipment hubs and 346 agencies in 28 states and four UTs across the country. 

Pratik Tholiya, IIFLThe transport business caters to a range of industries, including FMCG, food, textile, furniture, apparels, pharmaceuticals and metals. In addition, the company ferries passengers on a fleet of 455 buses (of which 399 buses are less than five years old, 87 are debt-free and six fully depreciated) across the country. The surface transport segment provides the bulk of revenue at 76% as of December 2014, compared with 21% from the passenger bus transport segment. The company’s wind power generation business, air charter services and hospitality services contribute to the remaining revenue. What brought VRL into the limelight, however, was its IPO, which opened on April 15 in the ₹195-205 price band and was oversubscribed a record 74X, receiving 120 crore bids for the 16.2 million shares offered. 

HNIs subscribed to the issue about 251X, with qualified institutional buyers bidding 58X and retail investors s

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