India's sanitary ware and bathroom fittings sector is estimated to be Rs 800 crore in size and is expected to register a 12% CAGR between 2013 and 2018. One of the leading names is ROCA Bathroom Products Pvt Ltd that has brands like Parryware, Laufen, Johnson Pedder etc under its umbrella. Pau Abello, Managing Director of the company spoke to Franchise India and shared his thoughts on franchising, distribution and about the current market trends.
What are your comments on the bathroom solutions industry in India? Is it fast and progressing like international countries?
The sanitary ware market in India has grown rapidly during the last few years and India has emerged as a major bath and sanitary ware market in the Asia Pacific. Factors such as increasing disposable incomes, higher standards of living, and increasing expenditure on beautifying homes and using premium products provide a further impetus to the growth of this segment.
In India, there is a significant growth potential in the in the low-cost or entry-level segment. One in every five urban households, and an even higher proportion of rural households, do not have a bathroom emphasising on the tremendous potential to expand with rising incomes and urban houses. With relatively strong demand growth in India over the last five years, various MNCs have entered the market. The bathroom fittings market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 15% until 2016. The organised segment makes up almost 45% of the market, and is growing faster than the industry average. While the organised sector focuses mainly on middle class and affluent segments in urban areas, the unorganised sector has, by and large, targeted the mass end of the urban market and the rural areas.
What are the current market trends in the industry?
Urbanisation has led to a rising demand for luxury bath products with finesse finish. The trends in India especially in the lifestyle domain are inspired by international standards of luxury and bathrooms are now the new living rooms. Designs that serves the purpose is the trend in the bathroom solutions industry today. To enjoy relaxing ambience, vanity basins, large tubs, Jacuzzi, multi jet shower panels, rain showers, and a lot more have set a benchmark in the industry with their innovative technology. There is a rising popularity of concept washrooms and coordinated sanitary-ware, fittings and accessories. More premium and high technology products for their bathrooms are being preferred nowadays by the customers.
Do you also plan to open exclusive stores via franchisees in the near future?
Roca Group has launched six brands in India, I.e., Armani-Roca, Laufen, Roca, Johnsson Suisse, Parryware and Johnson Pedder. We follow a different strategy in terms of dealership and penetration for each of these brands. Though, we are looking towards direct franchisees in any of them.
What are the current major challenges for your industry in India?
There are a lot many challenges in the industry but to point the main ones; logistics, energy costs and quality improvements are the biggest challenges that we are going through at this time.
The complete supply chain has been historically set-up keeping in mind the taxation instead of efficiency and also lacks a logical approach. To address this issue, GST is a must. Soon, we will see a complete revolution in the warehouse’s network, billing points and reduction of delivery times.
Talking about the energy cost, among the 74 factories that the Roca Group has in many countries, our Indian factory has the highest energy cost, especially in terms of gas cost. Today, we are competing in a flat world and this situation significantly reduces the competitive ability of India versus other countries.
Finally, coming to quality, it is an unsaid requirement from consumers’ part and is absolutely reasonable. So to going the same direction, we have increased the quality of our products substantially by working in two directions. First, we import and apply all the knowledge of Roca Group in QA (machinery, procedures, laboratories, best practices, etc.) and second we have received a lot of certification from the most prestigious quality auditors for our quality standards.
What are your comments on the e-commerce trend? What % of your sales is via the online channel and how’s it actually helping ROCA grow?
E-commerce is unstoppable. Even for bathrooms products where touch and feel is a very important aspect, there has been a noticeable e-demand. In my opinion, we will certainly see an increase in the e-commerce sales of bathroom products but having said that, the traditional channel will not be disturbed. We are now analysing the possibility of starting our own e-sales as some of our products are already placed in some portals by other vendors. We are always protective for our end users, and ensure the quality and features of ours products. So, our strategy will be to sell it directly through our own e-channel. In our industry after-sales support and guarantee are only given by the manufacturer, hence it should be us who cater the e-demand directly.
What strategies do you follow to reach out in a better way to Indian households?
The unique way of reaching to all is through a robust network of internal sales people who help the distributors in getting the proper portfolio of products in every place. We are doing a complete re-engineering of our logistics to be able to reduce the time to market of our products, focusing on lesser in number and bigger in size warehouses, launching of our own portal for order management and stock availability request, setting-up of a centralised customer service department, launching new website, opening our Parryware page on Facebook, releasing toll free after sales number, etc. All of the mentioned steps along with a reinforced marketing and communication will make us reachable to every Indian who wishes to experience our functionally and aesthetically advanced product range.