German polymer specialist REHAU has been a prominent player in the Indian furniture components market. Many quality furniture manufacturers in India have known, appreciated and worked with an exhaustive range of REHAU edge-banding solutions. The same can be said for the company’s UPVC profiles. Over the years, REHAU’s India portfolio has continued to expand to include many more innovative solutions. Buildingandinteriors.com talks to Mr.Ajay Khurana, Chairman, REHAU South Asia on the company’s India success story and the way forward.
B&I: REHAU today has solutions across various categories – HVAC, Plumbing, Fenestration and Furniture Components. How has your business model evolved ever since you came into the Indian market?
AK: A global leader in polymer-based solutions for Automotive, Medical, Industrial and Building materials, REHAU entered India in the year 1997, and ever since, it has gone from strength to strength in terms of growth and expansion in South Asia and Middle East. It was in 2001 that we kick-started our plant in Pune and this manufacturing unit was specifically focussed on furniture segment. Later in 2011, we became the first European company to manufacture window profiles at our plant in Pune under the ‘Make in India’ initiative of Government of India. Sensing the fast emerging demand for commercial cooling and domestic refrigeration industry in India, we set up a dedicated production facility for a wide range of industrial solutions. We have diversified our product portfolio encompassing all aspects of furniture and interior solutions. Currently, we have three manufacturing plants in India— two in Pune and one in Vadodara. Apart from catering to the domestic market, we are also exporting our exclusive range of products manufactured in these plants in India to the countries in the entire Indian subcontinent regions.
B&I: What would be your focus growth areas for REHAU over the next 2-3 years?
AK: Capitalising on our innovative technologies, we will be further strengthening our product portfolios besides opening more display stores across the country. In the last couple of years, we have introduced many new products, which include a wide range of adhesives, solid surfaces, pre-laminated boards and flooring, apart from extension of our existing product range. We have also strengthened our distribution network, which has significantly expanded our reach. Going forward, we aim to consolidate our product portfolio. We are looking for robust growth in India over the next 2-3 years and we are largely focussed on deeper penetration in the markets across tier-II and tier-III cities, while we have already established our firm foothold in tier-I cities.
B&I: For two of the product categories that REHAU is most known for – Furniture Components and UPVC profiles – how satisfied are you with these two and what challenges do you still see in these segments going forward?
AK: We provide a gamut of solutions worldwide as well as in Indian market. We enjoy dominant position in both furniture and uPVC Windows segments in the country. Still, we aim to expand even more aggressively in India. Continuing our product portfolio expansion in the country, we launched anti-bacterial range of RAUKANTEX uPVC Edgebands in 2019, which blend aesthetically with all kinds of furniture and are a perfect solution for kitchen cabinets, cupboards, table edges and countertops for offices. Recently, we have also come out with Radiant Boards with amazing Anti-Fingerprint feature supported by nanotechnology. Ruling out stains and finger marks on any furniture, RAUVISIO Ace & RAUVISIO Radiant Boards present ideal surfaces for residential and commercial applications. All these premium products already enjoy sustained demand in the market. The ongoing situation has posed some challenges for the time being, however, we expect the demand to pick-up as soon as the situation normalises. To reenergise demand we have already launched attractive schemes and revised our credit policy for our dealers. We are way ahead in quality which gives us distinct edge over competition.
B&I: How much of the global portfolio of REHAU is available in India? Do you intend to have some -specific solutions in your product offerings?
AK: We are fully committed to the ‘Make in India’ programme and the localisation of our products, keeping in mind the taste of the premium class customers in India. Enthused by the market response, we have introduced maximum products in Indian market. While we have extensively Indianised our products, we have been able to produce and further enhance these products in our plant and meet the emerging demand of our valued customers.
B&I: With sellers like IKEA getting into the Indian retail market, how do you see the dynamics change for REHAU?
AK: We look forward to collaborating with sellers like IKEA and we further intend to expand our footprint and grow our business in domestic as well as in overseas markets. We are also keeping a tab on the DIY concept, which is gradually picking up in India.
B&I: There is still a vast section of customer base that is not able to differentiate one quality of furniture component (say the edge-bands) from another. Is that a concern for a player like you? How do you see this picture when it comes to bigger customers like furniture factories/OEMs?
AK: We have solutions for all the segments of the customers. The bigger market players and the OEM segments exclusively buy RAUKANTEX uPVC Edgebands from us since they target high-end customers. Customers prefer RAUKANTEX uPVC Edgebands due to their exclusive properties of being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, non-toxic, eco-friendly and DOP free. At the same time, we also have quality range of RAUCARP Edgebands for the customers seeking low-priced quality solution. Launched exclusively for the unorganised segment, RAUCARP Edgebands are fashionable and durable, yet affordable.
To spread quality awareness among the consumers, we are running across a wide number of campaigns across digital, on-ground and social media platforms. In all our digital campaigns, we are talking about our anti-bacterial and high-quality solutions, among others. We have also created video tutorials for the carpenters and the channel partners. The video tutorials have been created especially for them to understand our products and their exclusive features. We also have carpenter training academy program along with the dealers, through which we have been training the carpenters. In the current lockdown period, specifically, we have been doing many webinars through which we are educating our partners about our new as well as existing products.
B&I: What changes do you foresee in the industry because of Covid19 on your business?
AK: Given the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, we are planning to remain focussed on virtual interactions with customers and associates and leverage the online medium to obtain the best results in the current situation. We are constantly promoting virtual tours and online experiences for our customers. Our business team is in constant touch with our consumer base through all kinds of digital modes including social media.
We see all the stakeholders mostly using online and digital means of communication. We are also investing in digitalisation to offer customer interaction and customer experience in virtual state. With a futuristic approach, we have already launched REHAU India App through which the consumers can gain real time experience of all our exclusive products.
To read about REHAU Radiant Heating, click here.