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Apr, 01 2008

Advent of modular kitchens

Indian woman spends a major part of her time in the kitchen. Hitherto nothing much was done or thought to make her working place look livelier and beautiful. But in the last decade or so, with home décor and home interiors gaining prominence, new concept

The fastest way to a modern kitchen is to go for a modular kitchen. The term `modular` means something designed with standardised units or dimensions, for easy assembly and repair or flexible arrangement and use. They are made up of various modules, which are easy to use and ship. And in case of any damage, only a particular unit has to be repaired or replaced. Modular kitchens are based on practical expediency and now it is also being believed that kitchens can have a style statement in unison with being comfortable and elegant. These kitchens emanate class, convenience and aesthetics. They are designed bearing in mind the working and cooking habits and styles of the Indian woman.

The concept of the kitchen has entirely changed as one can select from a variety of kitchen appliances and fits-outs depending upon his/her budget and can choose from non-stick cookware to designer chimneys, utility shelves, stainless sinks and dishwashers-- there is an appliance for everything and a modular kitchen comprises of all these accessories. In India, modular kitchens are available in a ready-to-install pre-fabricated format to fit easily in the existing structures. The best part is that modular kitchens are available in various colours and patterns.

Various layouts for kitchens are also available to choose from. These are L-shaped, U-shaped, parallel kitchens and single walled kitchens. The main components of modular kitchens include hob, chimneys, sink, faucets, trays, racks and cabinets. Also the freedom of choice of colours and materials for the platforms and cabinets is available which helps people to choose according to their individual preferences. For the shelves you can choose from granite, corian, laminate, stainless steel and marble. The various finishes include lacquer, laminates, acrylic, veneer, stainless steel, aluminum and glass fronted cabinets.

Modern techniques are prevalent too, like after a while the drawers if left opened automatically clasp shut, the cabinets; drawers and shutter almirahs have a layer of beading that makes them dust-proof. The high-end modular kitchens also offer storage shelves called carousals that rotate 360 degrees. These add to the convenience of the lady saving time for other things.

Sector growth

India being a culturally rich and diverse country has a special place for utilitarian kitchenware. The entire kitchenware industry in India is worth about Rs 3,000 crore today, which has increased immensely. The market for modular kitchen is pegged at Rs 200 crore and is growing at 40 per cent year by year. It has been observed that an approximately Rs10 crore per month worth of kitchenware and glassware is sold during the festive season. Middle class constitutes about 25 per cent of the total population in India and with the growth in the income of middle class families and people getting more and more brand and health conscious, this segment has witnessed a rapid growth. Also, with more variety to choose from and that too at affordable rates, the standard of living of this segment is rising at a swift pace. It is not only creating growth and opportunity for companies but also for the franchisees.

Even if one is making a new house or just renovating it, kitchen is one area where a person is spending much more than before. With the growth of construction and retail sector and increase in percentage of working women in urban areas the trend of modular kitchen is getting popular with the masses, as they are more appealing, convenient, space saving and easy to maintain.

Agreeing on the same TT Ahuja, MD, Sleek International says, “Consumers have started noticing the benefits of modular kitchen in terms of convenience, planning, and space saving etc. Good numbers of builders have started offering modular kitchen as standard amenities. With the growth of building industry kitchen industry will also grow in the same proportion.”

In case of dearth of space, common to the scenario in India, modular kitchens have come as a real boom. They offer a range of innovative storage options utilising the limited space available in the kitchen to the fullest. Another reason for their popularity and growth is that these kitchens take only a few hours to a couple of days to install with no headache with workers for days and months.

Commenting Abhijeet Dagga, Director, Timbor Home Pvt. Ltd says, “In India, retail segment is growing very fast and with this, modular kitchen retail will increase too. Today customer wants complete kitchen solution as both husband and wife are working and nobody has time to put their head with the carpenter.”

The range for these modular kitchens starts from about Rs 75,000 and goes up to Rs 25 lakh. The mindset of consumers has also changed a lot, thanks to the growing economy of the country and the competition among various domestic and international manufactures and suppliers of kitchens. Says Dagga, “India has shown a marked preference for going global! Today`s generation wants to be at par with its worldwide fraternity. Although modular fittings have been the normal practice in the west for years, in India, the application of modular concept has easily been adapted only to the kitchen per se.”

Giving reasons for growth of the segment Ahuja says, “With the coming up of more and more malls and supermarkets and innovative marketing skills resulting in reduction in prices the sale of appliance has increased remarkably. A luxury of yester years has become today`s necessity. Surplus funds and easy credit facilities are supporting the growth.”

In addition to these, the material of which modular kitchens are made, can be cleaned easily and the material is durable so there is absolutely no concern of it being damaged. Chandru Kalro, Executive VP Marketing, TTK Prestige Ltd says, “Open kitchens being the new kitchen phenomena, consumers are looking for appliances that not just serve the purpose of cooking but also add to the aesthetics & beauty of the kitchen. In short the trend is for appliances that are quick, time efficient, easy to use, convenient, aesthetic looking and most importantly total value for money.” All these factors have collectively led to the growth of the sector.

Franchisees opportunity

With such a growth rate, kitchen industry makes India a very lucrative market for this type of business. Therefore many domestic and international appliance companies are targeting the market. Companies such as TTK Prestige, Faber Heatcraft, Glen Appliances, Sleek International etc. have their own retail stores and have opted for franchise model for the expansion of the brand name. For the overall growth of these companies they have opened their stores in different parts of the country for tapping customers who go for looks, hygiene and are time conscious.

Kalro says, “The big Indian retail story has opened new doors for making the brand visible in all possible platforms. It has definitely given an edge for the kitchen appliance space. The company supports the franchisees in terms of marketing, hoardings and project selling.” Franchisors provide every kind of support to the franchisees in terms of complete product training, pricing structure, installation support and marketing support in form of free training, sales, design and installation staff and advertisement support through different means.

Players in the sector

TTK Prestige: Catching up to the trend of modular kitchens, Prestige entered the modular kitchen segment in the year 2004. Tasting success in this product extension, Kitchen Boutique – an exclusive showroom for modular kitchens was launched in February 2008. With an appealing ambience & unique modular layout, the boutique is equipped with a full-fledged design studio that allows the customer to get a look & feel of each kitchen exclusively.

Timbor Home Pvt. Ltd: Timbor Home Pvt. Ltd is a Ahmedabad based manufacturer and marketer of modular kitchens. The company currently has 54 exclusive retail stores under the brand `Timbor Cucine`. With over 10 years in the building materials and timber industry, Timbor Home Pvt. Ltd is a privately held, international manufacturer providing complete kitchen solution to the customer from planning, design, delivery, installation and warranty.

Sleek International: Sleek International is a Mumbai-based modular kitchen manufacturer and was started in 1993. The company offers fine quality domestic and international components like hobs, chimneys, utility shelves and exclusive hardware accessories and fittings. The company`s shop-in-shop` sleek studio stores are being set up in Shoppers Stop and at Homes malls over an area of 300 sq ft.

Faber Heatcraft: Faber Heatcraft Industries Ltd, Kochi, is the venture of the Italy-based electric kitchen chimney company, Faber Spa. Faber pioneered the Italian chimney concept in India. The group came to India in 1994. One can choose from designer chimneys, cooking ranges, built-in hobs and stainless sinks from a lifestyle segment to necessity level. The group is present in 14 countries across 3 continents; with a total of 17 industrial divisions the company sells its products through a chain of showrooms called `Mini Faber Gallerias`.

Glen Appliances: Glen Appliances Pvt. Ltd was founded in 1999. The distinctive `Glen gallery` showcase the entire available range of premier home and kitchen Appliances from Glen and leading European brands like Tefal France, Reginox Holland, Turboair Italy and Haier China, which are marketed by Glen in India. The company provides electric chimneys & gas appliances, chimney built in hobs, cooking range, cook tops, small appliance and water purifiers.

Competitive market

Observing the stable growth, companies are planning to role out more outlets in near future and this segment would see lots of competition in terms of variety and price, thus giving wider range to consumers to choose from. With people becoming more look and brand conscious the companies in this segment have to introduce more world-class kitchen appliances to please the consumers whose number is ever increasing and who are ready to spend extra if provided with the right quality of products.

Dagga says, “They look for the solution where every thing comes intact and in three hours their kitchen is ready. So modular kitchen retail will definitely increase with the increase in retail segment.” Also highlighting the future of the industry, Ahuja says, “Consumers have seen the practical benefits of modular kitchen in terms of convenience, planning, space saving etc and the business has grown.” Therefore the segment is going to be more beneficial not just for the franchisors but even for the franchisees.

Kalro adds, “Indian kitchens have undergone a total 180 degree shift in every aspect, be it the basic look of the kitchen to the cooking habits and the kind of utensils used. With markets being mature and changing lifestyles, modular kitchens have become a way of life. Considering the current scenario and the trend, kitchen segment is expected to come up with products, appliances, accessories and services to feed the current trends.” Also, the home makers can choose the kitchen, which fits their home style, work style and lifestyle and this will definitely inspire them to spend more happy time in their kitchens.

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