In conversation with Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director, Steelbird Helmets, who spoke about the brand’s journey so far and its future plans.
Headquartered in New Delhi, Steelbird Helmets Group is fast innovating as per its consumers need. The brand has already well accepted the franchise model and is soon opening its first Biking Hub in Gurgaon which is going to be a complete biker’s delight. We got in conversation with 42 year old, Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director of the brand and the man who has steered the Brand from a small time helmet manufacturer to a whopping 1500 crore mega company. We got to know more about his plans for the brand and what qualities he seeks in his prospective franchise partner. Read below..
You decide to manufacture high street riding gears, jackets etc and retail them. Is this a step towards premiumisation too?
Yes ofcourse. Motoziel is our venture of international level biking accessories that is a step towards premiumisation. On 18th and 19th of November we are inaugurating the store. It is the first biking hub in Gurgaon. That is an 80 thousand sq ft store. We will be joined by 2000 riders. In this store, all the best brands of the world will be under one roof. Even if you wish to buy a helmet of Rs one lakh, it will be available in that store. Day by day, the entry level helmets are selling only 10%. All high end models are selling fast.
Why have you chosen franchise model for its expansion?
Yes, we will move forward via franchise route. This first hub is our own. In the metro cities, we are going to open our own stores because the investment part is very high and it is not just about biking in the store. You will also find a restaurant, bar, brewery, disco, automatic washing booth for bikes, tattoo parlours, customisation of motor cycles. So, this is a complete motorcycle experience for bikers. For smaller towns, we will give franchise rights. Investment will depend upon the location and city.
Where are you planning next expansion?
As of now, Steelbird is now working on all technology products. We are not launching any product for design or shape. We are launching all technology based products with special USP in the product. We have special series for everything like we have Steelbird Air that is a complete air technology helmet and we are creating it in all versions. Those who want to go for normal helmets can choose else they can go for Steelbird Air. We also have hygienic helmets which are bacteria free, fungus free and non allergic. To ensure quality without compromise there is continuous up gradation of technology and processes. We already have 3 Helmet Plants in Baddi (Himachal Pradesh). Each brand has its own plant. We have a brand called ignite, which is our top end brand in helmets and we are the supplier to Royal Enfield, Yamaha, Hero, Vespa, Piaggio etc. We are producing co branded helmets with them.
Are you taking help of any technology consultants or managing the technology part all by yourself?
Helmet was born in Italy and Italians are born designers. Helmet is both a technology and fashion product. It is an artistic product too. There are 8 companies in Italy who are doing R&D for us. We have a design and marketing office in Italy so, all the research is done there only. We have recently taken over one Italian company with the brand name of Project for Safety. This is a 25 years old brand.
Any targeted cities where you seek your prospective partner?
Bangalore, Kerela, North East, Chandigarh. We will target places where there are bikers hubs. We are also making one more model for our franchise stores. Lot of people want to come into helmet business but don’t have investment. Some think about company support etc. So, we have started offering Rs 500 per sq ft for decorating the store. This is a kind of support to our franchise partners. We give this in 5 years in instalments.
What qualities you seek in a franchise partner?
He must be enthusiastic and passionate. Helmet sells with a design, concept, comfort, interiors, matching colours, size etc. He needs to be a knowledgeable and fashionable person. He must have investment capability too. Without money, a helmet store cannot run.