Founded in 1959 by Pasquale Natuzzi, Natuzzi S.p.A, an Italian furniture brand known for its high-end designs recently entered the Indian markets. In an interview, Nitin Bahl, Country Manager, Natuzzi India, shares his aspirations and briefs us about the company’s expansion plans.
Abha Garyali (AG): Tell us something about ‘Natuzzi S.p.A’.
Nitin Bahl (NB): At Natuzzi we follow the ‘how you live’ approach. Our unmatched product quality and designs have proved to be the key differentiator, making us the leaders in markets across the world. We offer a wide range of high-end products delivering premium quality in terms of creativity, design, choice of materials and finish.
AG: How is the concept of Natuzzi evolving in India?
NB: India is increasingly becoming a market for luxury products, high-end cars, and other consumer products. Our brands are well known amongst architects, interior decorators and well-travelled Indian consumers, as we are retailing in 123 countries worldwide. We believe, with our unmatched product range, we will create a distinct space in the market. We aim to give everyone the possibility to develop their own ideal living space, in which their own taste is reflected and their personality is expressed.
AG: What is the USP of ‘Natuzzi India’?
NB: Natuzzi would be launching its ‘total look living room’ concept in India. This line will offer the consumers carefully coordinated living-room furniture and accessories inspired both by contemporary and classic style of living to address each consumer’s distinct lifestyle. These will be the same designs that you would see in any part of the world be it America, Europe or any other Asian country.
AG: What inspired you to take the franchise route to expand in India?
NB: Given the FDI regulations, franchising is definitely a good option as it leads to long term partnerships. It brings in investments and retail experience from the partners, which are the key elements in the growth of an organisation.
AG: What are the future target locations for your expansion?
NB: We will have various retail formats to address our customer needs ranging from standalone stores, galleries and point of sales. We would also be setting up two flagship stores in Delhi and Mumbai to enable customer experience and the art of living – the Natuzzi way. We aim to establish 70 points of sale, across two brands, by 2012.
AG: What kind of challenges can be faced while expanding the company through the franchise route? Please share these challenges with us.
NB: The Indian furniture market is majorly dominated by the unorganised sector that comprises 85 per cent of the pie. While we enjoy the advantage of being one of the first ‘international living-room furniture’ brands to enter the organised market, the biggest challenge is to find the right partner with a high investment capability. Besides, s/he must be sensitive towards customer service and an appropriate mindset to involve in the retail operations.
AG: What kind of training and support would you provide to your franchisees?
NB: We would provide complete support to our franchisee and ensure full justice to meet the market expectations. We have hired a team of experienced retail experts who will not only provide complete assistance in setting up the business with our partners but also be an aide in day-to-day operations. We are also looking forward to invest in the brand ‘Natuzzi’ by creating awareness about its presence in the Indian market.
AG: What are the hurdles that are faced by the prospective franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
NB: We absolutely do not foresee any hurdle being faced by our partners in this business arrangement. We only see them gaining from our strong support. Becoming a Natuzzi franchisee is like becoming a partner of the world leader of the high-end furniture design retailer.
AG: What kind of background is necessary for securing a franchise of your company?
NB: We look for experience and expertise across various segments of lifestyle retailing. An ideal partner for us is the one who has the capacity to invest, and is ready to adapt to our brand systems and processes and ensure smooth implementation of our retail plans. We are looking at nurturing these into long term relationships which will eventually establish the brand Natuzzi as a market leader in the Indian furniture segment.