Since Somany’s inception in 1969 the brand has established itself nationally as well as internationally. With a clear vision the brand has persistently set a standard in home interior design. Abhishek Somany, JMD, Somany Ceramics, shares his successful journey.
Neha Gohil (NG): Tell us something about the inception, growth and success of Somany Ceramics?
Abhishek Somany (AS): Somany was established in 1969 as Somany Pilkington’s. It was a dream of Sh HL Somany to establish as an unchallenged leader in the Indian tiles sector. With clear objective to achieve, Somany has always tried to relentlessly set benchmarks and create trends in home interior design. The company is heading towards an exciting phase of expansion and growth through the superior and innovative style and quality of Somany products.
NG: Why and when did the company take the franchise route for expansion?
AS: Clearly defined distribution strategy has helped Somany to reach its customers and make available quality products to a wide consumer base. The brand already has 35-40 studio stores and 60-65 exclusive stores in India.
We also have around 17 company-owned showrooms across India. But in a city, one showroom does not fulfill the purpose. Therefore, we have expanded our retail base. There are two kinds of franchise models that we follow in order to leverage our brand further – a studio model for small format and an exclusive model for the larger format. There are around 1,200 dealers that sell our products across the country.
NG: What is the USP of Somany Ceramics?
AS: The strong R&D focus provides us a differential advantage over other players. Our deep rooted network of distribution is yet another USP.
NG: What parameters do you follow for the selection of franchise partners?
AS: The dealer proposed for becoming an Exclusive store or Studio should be with us for a minimum period of one year to evaluate his capabilities and track record.
NG: What are brand’s future plans of expansion through franchising? Where would like to see the company five years down the line?
AS: We plan to open another 50-60 stores in this year mainly in tier II and III cities. Our future plan is well conceptualised in our vision statement to be the ‘Most sought after tile and allied product in India and be the best employer in the tile industry’.
NG: How many franchisees do you have in India?
AS: We already have 35-40 studio stores and 60-65 exclusive stores in India.
NG: How does Somany Ceramics support and train its franchisees?
AS: Somany provides consistent marketing and branding assistance, CRM support and technical expertise to all dealers. Logistically, we provide regular product up gradations, order taking, dispatches, and processes handling support. We have dealerships and exclusive showrooms and we add value to both formats through direct company involvement.
NG: How much investment is required to open a franchise of Somany? How much specific area do you demand?
AS: The area varies as per the franchise model: Minimum Carpet area for Pune / Chennai / Hyderabad / Bangalore / Delhi / Mumbai is
NG: What are the challenges that a franchisee faces in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
AS: Insufficient communication maybe the biggest challenge currently affecting franchisees in the Indian ceramic sector. They can solve this by creating a strong sustained bridge of communication with the brands they engage with and this could ensure smooth running of the system and operations.