Champion Industries Corporation, pioneer manufacturer of wire mesh products, is all set to revolutionise the industry through franchising. In an interview, Alok Surana, MD, Champion Industries Corporation shares the inception and future plans of the company.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Brief us about the inception of Champion Industries Corporation.
Alok Surana (AS): The company was established in 1969. We are the pioneer manufacturer of wire mesh products and own a very popular brand ‘Champion’ which is supplied across Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra through distribution network.
RK: What is your product offering and key differentiators?
AS: We deal in wire mesh; an essential component of each and every manufacturing process enjoys great readymade demand unaffected by seasons, production cycle, and so on. We have a well established distribution network in south India and have been serving our customers from the past four decades across the various industry verticals. We are the first and only brand in the wire mesh industry.
RK: What is the USP of Champion?
AS: Our unique selling preposition includes:
RK: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting your franchisees?
AS: We are looking at aspirants with an area of 300 sq. ft and an investment of Rs 13 lakh for the exclusive franchise outlet. While for shop-in-shop, the investment would be Rs two lakh and the space required is 25 sq. ft. the prospective franchisees should be an existing wire mesh dealer, hardware store owner or an experienced industrial product supplier to take up our franchise.
RK: How long did it take you to break even?
AS: In the first year, we have achieved the break even and we are achieving every year since 1969 and expect the same for our franchisees.
RK: What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far and what was the strategy to deal with it?
AS: We had a biggest challenge of skilled labours especially in weaving of steel wire mesh. We have provided extensive training and up graded the staff for the new technology in our house training, provided rent free accommodation for employee’s families nearer to the factory. Similarly, we are going to provide all the required training to our franchisees and their respective staff to avoid the same problems that we faced during the early years.
RK: What are the key marketing and building strategies for your business?
AS: For the first time in India, we introduced the franchise model for distribution network, shop-in-shop for retail marketing, which would further boost our sales at various districts and all state level.
Besides this, registration with various portals and introducing e-business in the near future, which will cut down cumbersome paper work, improve on time efficiency better supply chain management and greatly reduce the probability of error.
RK: What are the plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
AS: We aim to have seven exclusive franchised outlets and 50 shop-in-shops by the end of 2010. Currently, we are operating through two franchised outlets and five shop-in-shops.
RK: What is the opportunity in this sector for new entrants?
AS: Wire mesh industry in India has been 45-50 years old. Wire mesh goes into critical applications in various industries, and a highly technical product, which is produced in a very wide range. The recent invasion of Chinese range of wire mesh into the Indian market indeed gave a tough competition to the existing players and many small scale companies have either shut down or have moved into trading business. Hence, the gestation period for new players in terms of getting returns, might be a little longer.