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Oct, 16 2012

Riding high on profits

In a candid chat with Amanpreet Kaur, Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director, Steelbird Hi-Tech India Ltd, talks about his company's future plans to tap the pan-India market by opening Steelbird shops, in association with IOCL, and expanding their Riderz Shoppe

In a candid chat with Amanpreet Kaur, Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director, Steelbird Hi-Tech India Ltd, talks about his company's future plans to tap the pan-India market by opening Steelbird shops, in association with IOCL, and expanding their Riderz Shoppe network through the franchise route.

What led to the formation of Steelbird Hi-Tech India Ltd (SBHT)?

SBHT is a flagship company of the Steelbird group of industries in India. SBHT was envisioned by my father, Subhash Kapur, the Chairman, in 1964, with a single mission to manufacture quality accessories to support Indian automobile manufacturers. In 1976, when helmets were made mandatory, he ventured into the helmet business by launching his brand, Steelbird. SBHT is one of the oldest manufacturers of helmets, pannier boxes and auto accessories in India.

How much market share of the automobile accessories industry are you planning to take over?

Steelbird today is one of the largest ISI helmet players having a significant market share among the organised players. The total size of this industry, as per estimates, must be over Rs 1,000 crore, however, only 12-15 % comprises the organised market, and Steelbird enjoys a market share of 35-40% in this segment.

In what context is franchising apt for spreading footprints of Riderz Shoppe?

Steelbird is planning to open 200 shops in a short span of one year; hence, franchising seems to be a fast and workable solution for this expansion.  Everyday we are getting 5-7 queries from different parts of the country to set up Riderz shops, especially from our existing automobile dealers as they find it a value addition to their existing business. We also provide them a chance to be in a glorified business rather than in the traditional business of auto accessories. Steelbird is providing the entire layout and designing of the shoppe, besides on-floor training to sales staff to make them familiar with the requirements of bikers.

What kind of corporate tie-up do you have with Indian Oil retail outlets (IOCL)?

A strategic tie-up has been formulated between SBHT and IOCL to sell ISI-certified helmets of Steelbird at selective outlets of Indian Oil petrol pumps. The coming together of IOCL and Steelbird will reinforce the belief that a helmet is a life-saving device and people should go for quality helmets. The synergy that exists between the two brands will further create a win-win situation for everyone. The wide network of Indian Oil will help Steelbird to make its product available in every nook and cranny of the country. Steelbird and IOCL have agreed to open 1,200 such outlets.

How many distributors do you have presently?

For the business of helmets, we have dealer / distributor model already in place and for Riderz Shoppe we will certainly take the franchise route. Currently, Steelbird has over 45 super distributors who distribute the products to over 10,000 retailers in the country.

What are your company's plans?

Currently, Steelbird is going through a three-tier expansion by increasing the manufacturing capacities, retail expansion through IOCL and taking the franchise route for expansion of Riderz Shoppe.  And yes, we are always open to new dealerships and are targeting smaller cities where the penetration of two wheelers is increasing.

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