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Nov, 01 2006

HOME FURNISHING IN INDIA A NEW ERA

TODAY, awareness about and desire for home furnishing has spread far and wide amongst most classes of households across the country. Interior decoration has become a popular fashion statement and priority for these house owners who are spending extensivel

TODAY, awareness about and desire for home furnishing has spread far and wide amongst most classes of households across the country. Interior decoration has become a popular fashion statement and priority for these house owners who are spending extensively on it.

This trend has had its impact on the market too. Gone are the days when only players at the local and national level dominated the home furnishing sector. Now, big international brands, like Home Mart, Carmichael House, and Spaces, too have designs on this segment.

While home furnishing is evolving into a popular business, till recently, this sector was not very attractive as it was unorganized, and only a few companies opted for it. Franchising of the businesses was all but absent.

According to Anshuman Singh, Director and CEO, Welspun Retail Limited, there is an immediate need for the home furnishing sector to be organized, as the local and non-branded players are presenting the customers with poor quality products at unnecessarily high prices. Talking about his company, he says, "We have the advantage of being the first movers in organised home fashion retailing, with which we are serving the two responsibilities: one, of setting up this industry by bringing home fashion to the common man not only as a fashion statement but also making him understand the freshness and hygiene it brings to the home (for example, we offer perfumed bed-sheets); and, two, managing the business interests of franchisee partners and the company."

The home furnishings segment includes products ranging from home textiles, like bed linens, bed covers to fibres, flooring and paints. Earlier, in the recent past, this business, which is estimated at around Rs 25,000 crore, had no large brands taking any serious initiative in organising the segment, despite having large independent stores all over the country. Today, big brands have started recognising the potential of this sector, which, as a result, has witnessed drastic changes in the market, emerging as the next hot destination (after garments) for textile players.

As compared to the past, contemporary exports in the home textile industry too have gone up.

Business majors' foray

Big companies like Bombay Dyeing, Kurlon, S Kumars and Welspun have added substantially to the sector by introducing the franchising model to it. However, it is not only the bigger companies that have joined the race to improve and benefit from this sector many smaller companies, like Gangotri Textile, KG Denim, Bannari Amman Spinning, are also following suit. The prominence of this segment has gradually improved and it now has a very bright future both on the domestic front as well from the export point of view.

Considering Bombay Dyeing, it has been in home furnishing franchising since the last two decades. Being a market leader, it knows the pulse of the customers and has been catering to their needs for a long time now. Arun Bhaw Singka, head of domestic business, Bombay Dyeing, says, "The home textile segment of the home furnishings sector has been experiencing a boom in the new economic environment, which has brought with it a changing pattern in lifestyles and household demand. Bombay Dyeing, realising the importance of franchising for distribution purposes, has today one of the largest chain of 400-plus franchisee in the home category. These form the backbone of Bombay Dyeing's business strategy today and future business as well."

Another established home décor company, Welspun, which adopted franchising 18 months back, has been able to make a significant difference to the industry. The company plans to use the franchise channel as the main business channel to reach the largest customer-base. It aims to have a total of 100 franchises by 2007. The company will also enter tier 2 and tier 3 cities through the same model. Welspun's main focus is on making people aware of the freshness and cleanliness factor of using better, world-class home fashion products at highly affordable prices.

Other brands, like Spaces and Home Mart, both from Welspun, have a total of 30 franchisees, at present, across the country. Other prominent stores include Shayam Ahuja, Fabindia and Jagdish stores. Shoppers' Stop has also, recently, launched two new brands, named Zeba and Linum, with huge expansion plans. While Linum, a leading Swedish home furnishing brand, will opt for shop-in-shop at major department stores before launching its exclusive outlets, Zeba, a new company, has plans to explore Aurangabad and Nasik, and also expand nationwide with around 40 outlets. Thus, the industry is also wide open to new entrants.

The consumption in the home furnishing sector is rising significantly because of the hundreds of new homes coming up every year. At the same time, there are a few brand or retail chains focused specifically on this segment. Thus, with the current developments in the textile industry, including the home furnishing segment, which is predicted to carve a place for itself in the country, India's share in the world trade is bound to grow.

Seasons' Furnishings, one of India's largest exporters and retailers of premium fabric, has tied up with a host of international brands for sale in India. Some of these brands, which the company will introduce in the country through exclusive franchises, include Fabricur a US brand, Jero from Paris and Warwick from the UK. Apart from the usual home décor products, Seasons' Furnishings plans to get into new product categories such as velvet furnishings.

Another important sector, the furniture segment has seen considerable changes and growth, especially with the coming of brands like Durian and French company Gautier Furniture. Durian, the popular brand, became a part of the Indian lifestyle business just three years back. Today, it has 25 showrooms all over the country, with plans to double them soon.

Style is not limited to designing clothes and cosmetics. Furniture, home textiles, flooring can all make a style statement. As the industry grows, each and every aspect related to the home furnishing sector is being taken care of.

Steps towards organising the industry

Though the sector was unorganised in the past, many brand names are showing interest in developing and growing it as it is in the west. There may be many stores on home décor in India, but the distinction of being an exclusive one is still missing. K. Vaitheeswaran, Chief Operating Officer, Fabmall, says, "Progress and profitability can be brought into the industry by organising the home furnishing sector. It will also improve efficiency, productivity, and output of various players, which in turn will benefit the consumer."

Recently, S Kumars won the bid floated by the largest American home furnishing manufacturing and distribution company, America Pacific. This American company supplies bedding, bath and window products to many US brands, including Nautica, Dockers and Liz Claiborne. S Kumars also announced, some days back, the opening of 100 showrooms or franchise showrooms for its home furnishing brand, Carmichael House, during October-November this year. The products on offer will include bed linen, kitchen and table linen, curtains and upholstery for homes, touching all segments of premium, mid and economy range.

Another company ready to make its mark in the home furnishing industry is the K.K. Birla Group. According to plans, it will be starting with product ranges in furniture and home-related accessories.

Modern day expectations

Every individual today craves for a dream home, furnishing it with his imagination, and, of course, his pocket. With the increase in disposable incomes, people today of all classes are actively choosing to upgrade their lifestyles, and, in the process, their homes.

As the population of the country rises, so will the demand for homes. The home fashion business is predicted to make a place for itself in the franchising sector of the country. Franchising has helped this sector grow, and made thousands of consumers aware of the latest fashion trends in home décor.

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