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Furniture Industry In India
Furniture Industry in India 1
Meaning of Furniture
Furniture is the collective term for the movable objects which may support the human
body (seating furniture and beds), provide storage, or hold objects on horizontal surfaces
above the ground. Storage furniture (which often makes use of doors, drawers, and shelves) is
used to hold or contain smaller objects such as clothes, tools, books, and household goods.
It indicates everything which is used while doing interior work. In a house, various
things like sofas, bed, flooring, lighting, glass works, dining table, wall unit, chairs, bathroom
fittings, carpet, ceramics etc. fall under the broad word ‘FURNITURE’. In an office also,
things like workplace, table, chairs, designed structures, conference table lights etc is
categorized under furniture.
Furniture can be a product of artistic design and is considered a form of decorative art.
In addition to furniture's functional role, it can serve a symbolic or religious purpose.
Domestic furniture works to create, in conjunction with furnishings such as clocks and
lighting, comfortable and convenient interior spaces. Furniture can be made from many
materials, including metal, plastic, and wood.
Furniture Industry in India 2
The Global Furniture Sector: An Overview
Furniture has traditionally been a resource and labor- intensive industry that includes
both local craft-based firms and large volume producers. Mass producing furniture became a
viable manufacturing strategy with the advent of flat-pack or ready-to-assemble designed
furniture. This product innovation paved the way for firms to design, manufacture and ship
products in large quantities. Firms that mass-produce flat-pack furniture tend to supply
products for the low- to medium-price markets. Solid wood furniture manufacturers have
retained important niche market segments primarily for high-end, expensive and design-led
products. These specialized products tend to be purchased locally while mass-produced; large-
volume products are sold locally and for export.
Furniture is big business. The global size of furniture market is estimated at $ 40
billion. Countries like USA, UK, Germany and Italy are the bigwigs in global furniture
industry. They produce furniture products with latest technology which is not found in India.
Today many companies like Durian, Godrej & Boyce, and Tangent import furniture from
western countries and sell it in the Indian market. This low rank may be explained by
relatively high import duties and low technological competency.
Furniture Industry in India 3
Scenario of Furniture Industry in India
India is a country with population over 1 billion
The range of indigenous furniture available in India includes both residential and
contract system furniture, with an increased concentration in office and household furniture.
In the area of decorative residential furniture, India has a heritage of exquisite handcrafted
furniture, made out of teak, rosewood and walnut wood, which has strong colonial roots.
Currently in India, Indian manufacturers use a three-tier selling and distribution structure that
is distributor, wholesaler and retailer.
The most popular forms of Indian furniture include home and garden furniture, office
furniture, kitchen furniture, bedroom furniture, upholstered furniture, seating, furniture parts
and contract furniture in wood, metal, plastic, cane and bamboo. These furniture pieces are
available in a variety of finishes. Choices range from antique or exotic looking furniture to
painted furniture. Popular items of furniture export are mainly a large variety of cabinets,
cupboards, ethnic settees, beds, partitions, chairs, tables, frames, boxes and bajots, and many
other decorative articles.
Another element is the greater attention that the local producers pay to include design
and technological innovation in their supply. Although still bound to a product model that is
typically of the British colonial style, the Indian industry is making great progress in offering
furniture of a modern design to consumers who are increasingly demanding to standards of
quality and design found in western countries.
Furniture Industry in India 4
Impact on Indian Economy
The total size of the Indian furniture industry is estimated by industry experts to be
worth, approximately Rs. 30000 crores currently, with an estimated 85% of this falling into
the unorganized sector. The share of the wooden furniture market is estimated at INR 600
million. The annual per capita consumption of furniture in India is not more than Rs. 1500.
The furniture industry in India can still be considered as an unorganized sector.
Handicraft production accounts for around 85 % of furniture production in India. The
furniture industry employs around 3,00,000 workers in India. This sector has some 5,000
active companies of which 8% produce wooden furniture, 10% metal furniture and 82%
manufacture accessories and furnishing items in plastic. The office furniture segment,
particularly metal furniture, is much more advanced (in terms of size and technological
innovation) than the home furniture one and a larger percentage of its production is exported.
Over the period 1996-1999, the average annual growth in the Indian furniture industry
reached 3 %. After four years of prosperity, the Indian furniture sector declined to 10% due to
cyclical situation of the economy. In the last 4 years, this sector has recovered from the 1999
crisis and has shown 4 - 4.5 % growth annually. Despite the forecast growth, India is still a
country with the furniture industry not particularly developed in comparison to western
countries (U.S., Germany and Italy) and South East Asian Countries in terms of absolute value
of the sector and percentage of GDP in the economy. The furniture sector in India only makes
a marginal contribution to the formation of GDP, representing just a small percentage (about
0.5%). The principle cause of this situation is that furniture production is typically a
craftsmen’s activity and the process of industrialization which is fairly advanced in other
industries is yet to be implemented in this sector.
India was the biggest furniture importer in 2004-05, with a 17 per cent share in
furniture imports worldwide. In 2000, India ranked 48th among furniture exporters (€140
million) and 49th among importers (20 million). A total of 10,476 importers shipped furniture
to India during this period. The current imports are mainly from UK, Italy, Germany, Spain,
China, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan.
Furniture Industry in India 5
According to a survey by global consultancy firm KPMG, India has emerged as a key
FDI destination as foreign investors earn higher returns in India than in other emerging
markets like China, Brazil and Mexico. “The return on every dollar spent in India has a
better return than is the case with other emerging markets that have a more favorable
environment," it said.
Furniture Industry in India 6
Forests and Woodworking
The forested area of India
amounts to about 20% of the total
country, equivalent to 64 million
hectares. Roughly 38 million
hectares are dense forests, 25 million
hectares are open forests and a
million hectares are covered by
The central state of Madhya Pradesh owns 21 % of the country’s forests, followed in
order by the states of Arunachal Pradesh (11 %), Orissa (7 %), Maharashtra (7 %) and Andhra
Pradesh (7 %). The seven states of the north-east account for 26 % of the country’s forests.
India is one of the largest consumers of wood in South East Asia. Until a few years
ago the country had considerable quantities of available tropical woods. The most common
species in Indian forests are teak, rosewood, ebony, laurel, pine, cedar and rubber trees. These
“ready to use” species were, until recently, freely exploited without recourse to particularly
advanced technology. Subsequently supply became scarcer due to unconditional and
inappropriate exploitation and also due to growing concerns about the environment that led to
policies for the conservation of the forests.
In the wood used for furniture in India, teak accounts for almost 5O%; while Sal and
deodar for about 20% ; mahogany and balance 3O% between white cedar, silver oak and
pinewood. In order to conserve the forests, the cutting of soft jungle wood has been banned by
the Indian Government. Consequently there is a great potential for foreign companies to
supply wood to Indian companies.
Furniture Industry in India 7
Dense Forest Open Forest Mangrove
In India natural rubber plantations cover 520,000 hectares with another 6,000 hectares
replanted almost every year since 1994. Kerala state (South India) produces 95% of the total
supply of rubber wood in India.
Total production currently amounts to about 1 million cubic meters. However, almost
40% of the rubber wood is used as firewood, the packing industry claims a further 44%, and
only about 16% is used for the plywood and panel industries. In the case of the round wood;
construction, joinery and packaging consume 25% of the Indian round wood and the furniture
sector uses only the 8%.
Wood for fuel is the main use of the wood in India and other use as production of
chipboards, MDF, pulp paper or saw wood account for marginal percentage in the total India
To serve the demand, India imports wood (logs) from countries like Malaysia,
Indonesia, Myanmar, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, New Zealand and to some
extent of South America. These logs are imported through various ports in India. However
there are several infrastructural constraints, which may impede further growth in these imports
in the near future. Therefore it is expected that over the next few years until this infrastructure
gets built up, saw timber will also have a market in India.
Production of Rubberwood
There are reportedly over 40 factories manufacturing rubber wood in India, mostly in
Kerala State (South India). Andamans Timber Industries in Andamans Islands is the largest
manufacturer of rubberwood in India reportedly with annual turnover of over US$ 12 million.
There are other companies like DEECO, Growell India, etc which produces rubberwood.
Furniture Industry in India 8
Bamboo Material Boards
In the recent years, India has developed a new kind of board made with bamboo these
4-by-8 foot mats are soaked in resin, then hot-pressed together in various thicknesses to form
bamboo mat board, a substitute for plywood. These boards are generally as strong as or
stronger than their plywood equivalent and are less expensive. The advantages of the bamboo
The big advantage of producing bamboo mat boards is that since hardwood trees take
40 to 80 years to reach a worthwhile logging size, but bamboo is ready to harvest in
just two to five years.
Using bamboo not only gives hardwood forests a chance to regenerate, it also fights
soil erosion. This plant grows best in areas of heavy rainfall, which are prone to
erosion after logging, and its shallow root system holds soil well.
One of the key benefits of bamboo mat board is that it can be manufactured by small
factories right where the bamboo is grown.
Through the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), bamboo mat
board is now being promoted beyond India’s borders. At a workshop that was organized in
1994, INBAR introduced BMB to seven other Asian nations: Bangladesh, China, Lao PDR,
Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, and Viet Nam. This technology could also be transferred to Africa
and Latin America.
In the India’s case BMB has already replaced about 20-25 % of plywood sales. This
figure could increase through better promotion and new contracts, particularly from the Indian
government, which is the biggest plywood consumer — for its offices and railway carriages.
Currently more than 10 plywood factories have already started making the boards in bamboo-
growing areas of India.
Furniture Industry in India 9
Production for home use comprises mainly sofas, dining tables, and seating,
professional production is destined for offices and companies and the institutional furniture
sector serves mainly hotels, schools and hospitals.
The non-organized sector is
very strong in the Indian furniture
industry 85 % of local production).
This 85 % is linked to craftsmen
working alone or as many two or three
assistants. These craftsmen use
exclusively solid-wood and produce
furniture on request. About 65 % of
the furniture produced in India is in
wood, 25 % in metal and the
remaining 10 % in plastic.
On the other hand, there is furniture produced on a medium-large scale and intended
for professional use, which is provided by the organized sector. Finished products are offered
in modular systems in standard sizes and customized. The segment with the largest no. of
medium-large companies is the office furniture.
The plastic is the most used raw material mainly because it is a new raw material that
has been introduce in India recently and also because it is a really cheap raw material. In the
recent year also the chipboard, MDF and bamboo-board have become popular in the
production of furniture. The most common solid woods used to produce furniture in India are:
Teak wood (60°k) and Rose wood (15-20%). It should also be remembered that for the
majority of companies the production of furnishing items is only a side line and besides often
furniture producers import foreign brands.
Furniture Industry in India 10
Raw Materials Used
Wood Metal Plastic
Production process and Value Chain
Cut logs are carried to the sawmill, which obtains its primary inputs from the
machinery sector. From there, sawn timber moves to furniture manufacturers who, in turn,
obtain inputs from the machinery, adhesives and paint industries and also draw on design and
branding skills from the service sector. Depending on which market is served, the furniture
then passes through various intermediary stages until it reaches the final customer, who after
use consigns the furniture for recycling or refuse.
Furniture Industry in India 11
The Indian furniture industry consists of various sectors in which the manufacturers
are not as specialized in the production of a specific type of furniture as in other industrially
advanced countries. The manufacturers, that are either industrialists or craftsmen, produce
various types of furniture and it is difficult even using questionnaires and contacting them to
get a real picture of the production by types of furniture. In addition, official statistics are not
available either at the national or at the local level.
Globally, domestic furniture accounts for 65% of the production value whilst
corporate/office furniture represents 15% of the production, hotel furniture 15% and other
furniture (mainly parts of furniture), 5%. The upholstered furniture and the bedroom furniture
sectors are the largest ones within the furniture industry respectively representing 30% and 2O
% of the total production. Two other sectors have almost the same weight: the kitchen
furniture sector (6.5% of total production) and the dining room furniture one (6.5%). Other
domestic furniture (garden, home office, small furniture) accounts for 4 % of the total
Furniture Industry in India 12
Breakdown of Furniture Production
Upholstery Bedroom Hotel/contract Dining room
Kitchen Parts Other Corporate Office
End user’s profile in India
Obviously the purchasing power is completely in the hands of the upper segments of
the Indian population. One study carried out by the World Bank attributed 33% of private
consumption in India to the richest 10% of the population (in terms of per capita income),
whereas the poorest decile of the Indian population claimed only 3% of consumption. If the
richest 20% of the population are considered, the quota of total consumption attributable to
this group is around 47%.
Analyses carried out by important world researchers and the classification of Indian
consumers conducted by research institutes are still not enough to provide an estimate of the
size of the potential market.
Having said that a quarter of the world’s poor lives in India and a not very large
number of rich people, we still need to quantify that middle class of consumers that forms the
potential market for foreign companies wishing to sell on the Indian market.
Annual income range
Number of families (millions)
Urban Rural Total
Less than 490 5.3 27.7 33
490-676 7.1 36.9 44
676-1384 16.8 37.3 54.1
1384-6615 16.6 15.9 32.5
More than 6615 0.8 0.4 1.2
TOTAL 46.6 118.2 164.8
In India there are 33 million families, or roughly 200 million people, have an average
annual income of over US$ 1,300.
This section of the population is more or less the Indian market for consumer goods
including furniture. Data for income distribution is however not sufficient to be able to
determine the size of the market, which varies according to the type of goods considered. The
number varies from 300 million people to 100 million according to the consumer good in
Furniture Industry in India 13
question. This situation may be the result of a lack of uniformity within the middle class and
of the huge differences in the prices charged in different areas of the country for the same
Consumer purchasing power in India seems to be more closely linked to the location
of the consumer than to the income. Family habits therefore play a greater role in determining
the size of the market than the distribution of income.
If only consumer durables are considered of an international level, an estimate, felt by
many local observers to be rather pessimistic, put the number at around 50 million (which
would still make India a larger market than any European country).
Despite the increasing urbanization of the country, the richer section of the population
does not necessarily live in the large cities. It is certainly true that in the four largest cities
(Calcutta, Mumbai, New Delhi and Madras), which are home to about 60 million people, there
is a concentration of the more “westernized” population in terms of tastes, but it is equally true
that in the rural areas there is a large part of the wealthier classes
Also the population that resides in the country is, in turn, 30% concentrated in villages
that often have the same number of inhabitants. So far foreign investors and local companies
have ignored this segment of the market, which remains firmly rooted in its own cultural and
religious traditions and has not been affected by the consumerism typical of the urban
population. But if this segment were approached with targeted marketing strategies, the
number of people effectively making up the Indian market for consumer goods would increase
Furniture Industry in India 14
Household Office Contract
The Indian market for furniture is worth approximately 30,000 crores and roughly 85%
of this comes from the non-organized sector (craftsmen). There are few Indian companies that
produce or sell brand name furniture. The home furniture segment claims 65% of furniture
sales, the office segment 20% and contract the remaining 15%.
Furniture Industry in India 15
“Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing,
promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, services, organizations, and events to create and
maintain relationships that will satisfy individual and organizational objectives.”
- Contemporary Marketing Wired (1998) by Boone and Kurtz. Dryden Press.
Most people think that marketing is only about the advertising and/or personal selling
of goods and services. Advertising and selling, however, are just two of the many marketing
activities. In general, marketing activities are all those associated with identifying the
particular wants and needs of a target market of customers, and then going about satisfying
those customers better than the competitors. This involves doing market research on
customers, analyzing their needs, and then making strategic decisions about product design,
pricing, promotion and distribution.
Market segmentation is the process of dividing a heterogeneous market into
homogeneous sub-units. In simpler words it means dividing the market into various sub-
groups on the basis of different factors like age, sex, purchasing power, geographical
To make the marketing decisions effective, it is
essential that the market is segmented in such a way
that the task of identifying the changing needs and
requirements of different segments is made easier.
Segmentation proves to be an important commandment
of marketing since this helps in making and innovating
the marketing decisions. All the users, of course have
their own likes and dislikes; the expectations are different- The kids, teens, youths, men,
women, married and unmarried, youth and grey, technocrats and bureaucrats, business
Furniture Industry in India 16
executives and political representatives use furniture with different motives. Segmentation
makes the ways for knowing their uniqueness and formulating the submixes in such a way that
an optimal development of marketing resources is made possible. It is against this background
that we go through segmentation for the furniture industry.
Market Segmentation on the basis of product
Upholstered seating means sofa sets or armchairs. Nowadays upholstered seating offer
comfort, relaxation, and also look stylist. High-end models use the latest technology and offer
extra functions such as remote control or massage.
The performance of the economy has a stronger influence on kitchen furniture sales
than most others. Replacing a kitchen is a costly item. TV cooking programmes and new
cooking habits have stimulated the sales of kitchen furniture. Most contemporary kitchens are
fitted and there is a trend towards removable free-standing items like cupboards, dressers,
work surfaces which are made of solid wood
Dining and Living room furniture
There is a variety of items under this segment and the distribution is relatively simple.
Furniture retailers usually sell the complete range. However they tend to stock fewer items
when taking the enormous diversity of choice in furniture items into account. Another reason
is the intensified competition in the low-medium price market.
Dining tables vary in appearance from lightweight to robust. Gate-leg, folding and
drop leaf tables are popular for small dining areas, as they use space efficiently.
Furniture Industry in India 17
Chairs vary considerably in style, from simple modern shapes to rustic, classic,
baroque or colonial styles, reflecting the huge influence of exotic design in decoration. Chairs
come in variety of colours and designs.
The living room furniture is buoyant, unlike dining room furniture and includes
sideboards, coffee tables, buffets, end tables, dressers, TV/DVD tables and room dividers.
Now there is a variety in materials, forms and styles which are frequently combined. The
latest items are light, well designed, transparent, removable, and multi-functional.
The TV table segment could benefit from the growing demand for home entertainment
equipment such as TVs, DVDs and complete home cinema sets. TV tables or occasional
tables are often purchased on impulse and people experiment with a new style, which may
result in a whole change in a whole change of the room. Less formal eating habits and the rise
in the number of single households has resulted in eating in front of the TV at a low
occasional table in the living room.
This segment consists of bed and fitted bedrooms. Previously neglected as it is a less
public room than other rooms in the home, the bedroom has taken on more of a fashion
element. The definition of what ‘bedroom furniture’ should include is getting blurred
increasingly. Computer desks, chairs, filing units now find their way into adult’s and
children’s bedrooms. Fitted bedroom furniture is becoming more popular as a result of this
trend. Comfort is more important than price while purchasing beds.
This segment has grown fast in the past few years stimulated by children’s furniture
chains. Multi-functional and modular ranges of furniture which can be used longer have
become popular. Another trend is that children and teenagers spend more time in their rooms
for homework, watching television and computing. Hence, developing furniture ranges for
specific age groups has been done with some success recently. This trend also encourages
Furniture Industry in India 18
consumers to change their bedroom more frequently as they get older. In this segment, safety
standards are important.
This refers to the organized sector in furniture industry. Today many companies thrive
in this sector. Since the economy of India is booming, many corporate offices have seen their
way. The furniture projects of these corporate offices are undertaken by the companies who
are into office modular furniture.
Market Segmentation on the basis of age and life phase
Most potential consumers of furniture from developing countries in India are in the
low to medium income range. They buy a wide range of contemporary, country or colonial
style furniture. On a national basis, Indian furniture consumers nowadays are segmented by
lifestyle, as is shown below, whereas in some metro cities, furniture consumers are more
broadly divided into low income and high income groups, due to the absence of a middle class
in most countries.
A more general approach is to segment consumers by life stage. However, it is
difficult to predict how each group will behave as there are still large differences by country:
Furniture Industry in India 19
Furniture Industry in India 20
Group Main Characteristics
People living alone usually spend more time out of their homes and
have contemporary furniture which is practical, functional and in the
lower price bracket. Many people have a computer or a small office
corner in their living or bedroom in metro cities.
People whose circumstances necessitate the setting up of a new home.
Independent career men or women are also included in this group.
Initially they tend to buy furniture that is practical, multi- functional,
easy to transport and up to the latest interior trends.
A group that is increasingly sensitive to fashion. Their new interior
ideas and furniture purchases are likely to be individual combinations
of past styles with the latest decorative and colour trends. Many of
them want to show their ‘unique interior’ to visitors and have a small
office corner in their living, bed or study room.
The largest group of consumers, who spend more time at home and to
whom furniture is important. They tend to have contemporary
furniture and buy new items either for a change, because they are
needed for a growing household, or because they are moving to a
larger house. Many of this group will want to follow interior fashion
trends, usually to add interest to their home, or to show to visitors.
They started adult/married life with a particular interior style (typically
heavy hardwood furniture) and have changed little, except for
functional requirements. Their furniture is solid and stylish and they
opt for classic and increasingly for contemporary or modern style
After their children have moved out, they like to re-furnish their home
interior, suiting their own taste, which can be based on existing
furniture, contemporary style, or a mix of the two. Important “senior
furniture” items include higher seats, tables which comply with the
latest ergonomic requirements.
An Indian home is
usually made up of three rooms
(including kitchen and
bathroom). While 25% of the
population lives in homes with
more than 5 rooms, 4S% lives in
houses with fewer than 3 rooms
and 16% lives in just one room.
With regard to the
furniture itself, in the upper-middle class homes some rooms are furnished in the Indian style
and others in typically European furnishings. The upper classes are very attentive to design
and quality, and the price is rarely a discriminating factor in the consumption of top range
consumer durables (and therefore also in the consumption of furniture). Colonial furniture is
still very common in India, but the fashion seems to be declining slowly.
In general European style furniture is only found in the homes of the urban upper
classes, and the rest of the population relies on shelves and chests. Demand for furniture of
international standards is limited to the larger cities.
It is also estimated that the wealthier classes do not change furniture very regularly:
the average life of a piece of furniture is about 20 years, and some craftsmen’s pieces are used
for as long as 50-70 years.
Further growth in the furniture market should be boosted by the forecasted growth in
the construction sector. Similarly the contract segment should benefit from the anticipated
development in the tourism sector.
There are about 1,000 hotels in India. 10 % of these are 5 star and still many 5 star
hotels are being built. The remaining segment consists of hotels having less than 5 stars. As
well as the international chains present (such as Radisson, Holiday Inn, Intercontinental,
Hyatt, Sheraton, Kempinski, Quality Inn and Le Meridien) there are hotel chains that wholly
Furniture Industry in India 21
Household Office Contract
in the hands of Indian companies: Taj, Oberois, Park, Siddartha, ITDC (Ashoka), Centaur and
This will increase by 2,860 rooms over the next two years. A further 6 hotels with
1,600 rooms will be built over the next 5 years, with investments from Grand Hyatt, Taj
Group, Leela Group and Hiranandanis.
Almost all the new hotels will be built in the northern area of Mumbai, around Sahar
Distribution and Sales Channel
Furniture Industry in India 22
Indian companies operate directly on the market and through distributors. A number of
companies, especially those with a predominance of local customers, sell direct to customers
without passing through distributors.
The majority of these companies are involved in the production of office furniture and
in some cases they have dozens of free-lance salesmen working on a commission basis. The
larger companies have their own commercial offices and showrooms in all the larger cities in
Many organizations prefer, however, to operate via organized outlets. This enables
them to reduce sales costs and to concentrate on productive aspects and on improving
productivity and quality. In many cases the companies that sell through commercial
organizations rely on the same for customer services and are only directly involved in the case
of large quantities.
Introducing foreign products to India’s markets requires careful analysis of consumer
preferences, existing sales channels, and changes in distribution and marketing
practices that are continually taking place.
India is a very big country in terms of area and a new company should in a first
approach forget spread its product in the whole India.
Besides huge distances separate the most populous cities, as example, from Delhi to
Calcutta there are more than 1.500 Km and almost the same distance there is between Delhi
In India it is easily to talk about two kinds of consumers.
On one hand there is the urban population, which is widely dispersed and rather has
higher buying power than the rural areas.
On the other hand there is the rural India, which constitutes 70 percent of the country’s
population; this is more than 700 million people. Usually the rural India habitants have
Furniture Industry in India 23
low incomes than the urban areas. Nevertheless relevant figures show how in the rural
market has been a rapid growth in last years. The main reason for such growth, apart
from awareness created by various media channels (TV and radio), has been the
adaptation of distribution channels to the needs of the rural market.
Certainly there are still hurdles to be crossed in order to penetrate this market.
First problem is one of logistics, the huge differences at an economic and cultural level
among the various areas of the country.
Secondly the distribution system that is not yet sufficiently structured.
But if these are tackled with marketing policies that are targeted and attentive to the
internal diversities (thus not only directed at the part of the population that inhabits the large
urban centers) and based on an understanding of the traditions, habits, and lifestyles that
evolve from “being present” in the country, in the not too distant future the Indian market
could be a source of satisfaction for many sector companies.
Distribution coverage is the prime key point for a company pretending sells its
products in India. Indian consumers are dispersed. They are serviced by an efficient, but
fragmented, trade system consisting of over 4 million retail and wholesale outlets, spread over
many urban and rural population centers. The ability to physically deliver one’s goods to the
consumers, therefore, remains a source of significant competitive advantage. Currently in
India, Indian manufacturers use a three-tier selling and distribution structure, which are
distributor, wholesaler and retailer. A typical company operating on an all-India basis could
have between 400-2300 distributors, always depending of the product and the final consumer.
The retailers served directly by a company’s distributors may similarly be between
250,000-750,000. Depending on how a company chooses to manage and supervise these
Furniture Industry in India 24
relationships, its sales staff could vary between 75 and 500 in number. Typical gross
percentage margins for a distributor, wholesaler and retailer, are 4-5, 3-4 and 10-15
Wholesaling is profitable by maintaining low costs and turnover high. Many
wholesalers operate out of wholesale markets and serve the final consumer. India has
approximately 4 million retailers, mostly family-owned or family-run businesses.
In recent years, there has been increased interest by companies in improving their
distribution logistics in their effort to address a fiercely competitive market. This in turn has
led to the emergence of independent distribution and logistics agencies to handle this
important function. Marketers are increasingly out-sourcing some of the key functions in the
distribution and logistics areas, and looking for more reasons to reach the consumer better.
Recent years have also seen innovative trends by companies in utilizing distribution
channels for products with synergy. While there are no major national store chains,
departmental stores and supermarkets are mushrooming in many of the cities, as well as in
other towns all over India. Most cities have well known market districts and retail sales outlets
are almost always locally owned. Buying and selling is often a process of bargaining and
negotiation. Outside the major metropolitan areas, India is an intricate network of rural
villages. Poor roads make many rural districts inaccessible.
India has both organized and unorganized channels for selling goods. Smuggled goods
such as computer parts, cellular telephones, gold and a vast range of imported consumer goods
are routinely sold through the thriving “unorganized” sector or black market of the economy.
By avoiding taxes and customs duties and using cash transactions, unorganized merchants
offer better prices than those offered by the organized sector. However, with liberalization and
more and more foreign companies coming to India, the volume of business in smuggled goods
has fallen significantly. Most products being sold through the smuggled channel are now sold
in India through direct channels.
In selecting a distributor, the following considerations are important:
Furniture Industry in India 25
Business reputation and business standing;
Business capacity and salesmanship;
Expertise and previous experience in the line;
Financial capacity and willingness to invest in the line;
In addition, an ideal distributor will have the capacity to offer customers the required
assortment of products and services and a willingness to extend credit. The distributor will be
able to provide storage facilities, showrooms, shops, service workshops, salesmen and service
commensurate with the expected volume of business.
Use of Agents and Distributors as Partners
When a company wants to sell its products or services in India before establishing a
branch office or a subsidiary, it can enter the market by appointing an agent or a distributor. If
the product has a wider and a specialized market, it would be appropriate to appoint agents
At first glance, many agents appear to have excellent industry and customer contacts.
They will have typically developed and nurtured contacts over time, and their primary
interest in a distributorship is to sell to these contacts. These agents may have little
motivation to develop new markets or new customers. It is important to gauge your
prospective agents’ aggressiveness in developing new networks and contacts.
Some potential agents will provide long lists of foreign principals, covering dozens of
products. Although such lists may seem impressive at first sight, some of them may be
outdated, and some of the relationships may no longer exist. An agent with many
principals and product mandates could find it difficult to devote management and
resources to every additional relationship that he takes on.
Furniture Industry in India 26
A company needs to make sure that “what you see is what you get”. The company
should be sure that its product will be strongly represented among the agent’s product
The company should be sure that the prospective distributor is committed to actively
promoting your product. Companies should avoid the temptation to establish a relationship
with an agent or distributor merely because this individual appears to be the most persistent or
the most enthusiastic out of several candidates. These attributes will not necessarily make the
best agent or distributor, because additional factors need to be considered before making a
final choice of agent or distributor.
First, determine who the customers are and where in India these customers will make
their buying decisions. Agents with fewer principals and smaller set-ups can prove to be more
adaptable and committed than agents with a large infrastructure and a bigger market
reputation. A small agent could be ideal where a flexible strategy is called for. A company
should examine all distributor prospects and thoroughly research the more promising ones.
Credit and reputation checks will be easier, with a number of private organizations now
providing these services in India. Even established distributors are known to have exaggerated
To check the real capabilities of an Indian agent, it is possible reach information in
local industry sources, industry associations, potential clients, bankers, other foreign
companies and the agent’s competitors. These steps will ensure that selection of an agent or
distributor is not left to chance alone. After performing a credit check of the proposed partner,
contract details can be negotiated and a memorandum of understanding or agency agreement
Franchising has been used to do business in India since several decades. The most
franchising businesses in the recent years in India have been: healthcare, foods, education,
entertainment, fitness clinics and courier services. Franchising is poised to spur economic
Furniture Industry in India 27
growth because it encourages private enterprise with no danger of flight of capital, and
because it offers the potential to establish products and services that meet global standards.
A legal framework for new franchisers interested in setting up master franchises in
India already exists, in terms of brand protection and rules regarding payment of franchise
fees. However, there is also a growing need to smoothen this regulatory framework.
Following the economic liberalization of 1991, several foreign companies with strong
brand names have established a presence in India through the franchising route. In the
hospitality and service industries, this has been the preferred method for starting operations in
India. Companies that operate through franchises include Hertz, Avis and Budget for car
rental; Radisson, Best Western and Quality Inns for hotels; Kentucky Fried Chicken,
Domino’s Pizza and Baskin Robbins for food.
Also some Indian companies with strong brand recognition are using the franchising
route to expand business volumes. Some examples are: MRF for automotive tires, NuT for
computer training schools and Apollo Hospitals for hospital.
While franchising has mushroomed in India, the concept has initially worked mainly
on an agent basis. It is still evolving and being refined, so that interaction between franchiser
and franchisee is limited, and the two sides have yet to learn to share business prospects. Also,
franchising in India is often perceived as a tool to cover the high cost of real estate that a
company that is interested in retailing would have to bear. With minor variations, in a typical
franchise operation, a company approaches an owner of prime commercial space to provide
the real estate, to invest in interiors and inventories to run a franchise business, and to hire
staff for the operation. Franchisees prefer to recruit staff directly. Usually, the two parties
work out an arrangement by which the franchisee agrees to sell the company’s products on an
Typically, the company’s investment is reduced by about 15 percent if the same
operation is run by a franchisee. Also, the company has no worries about hiring and dealing
with staff or worker unions.
Furniture Industry in India 28
Some points to consider when a European company wants to open a franchisee in
Check the solvency of your partner.
Space location and availability.
High ethical standards.
Similarity of goals and values.
The most usual way to pay the fees is:
Some companies offer franchisees a percentage of commission on sales.
Others provide a fixed percentage of the retail price of the product as a profit.
In any case the costs of promotions and advertising are usually shared between
franchiser and franchisee, with some companies assisting franchisees in specific promotional
activities to help increase product sales. The franchise agreement is a comprehensive
document that specifies everything from the franchise location to the finer details of operating
the franchise. There is no standard franchise contract since every company is different and as
well since the range of product is also different. Nevertheless normal clauses that should be on
the checklist of every franchiser include:
Protection of intellectual property.
Conflict of interest, indemnity.
A potential franchisee must submit a proposal for a franchise operation to the
government ministry that regulates the particular industry sector. Among other details, the
proposal must contain the amount of franchise fee that will be paid to the franchiser. The
proposal moves from the relevant ministry to the Ministry of Industry and the Foreign
Investment Promotion Board if the company has multinational presence. Reserve Bank of
Furniture Industry in India 29
India approval of the franchise fee is automatic when the Ministry of Industry clears the
proposal. In India the royalty payments range from 3 to 8 percent. And it is calculated on total
turnover for the year for the franchise operation.
Joint Ventures / Licensing
A joint venture company is generally formed under the Indian Companies Act, and is
jointly owned by an Indian company and a foreign company. This type of arrangement is quite
common because India encourages foreign collaborations to facilitate capital investments,
import of capital goods and transfer of technology. The joint venture can be:
India is an attractive investment destination with a large consumer base. It is a big-
league market that requires a careful approach because mistakes can be quite costly and local
entrepreneurs yield to no one in terms of business acumen. Once a decision to go with a joint
venture is made, the following practical tips should be used:
Define each partner’s roles and expectations
Experience is a key ingredient; there is no substitute for thorough research; and look at
the long term.
A foreign company, which plans to invest in India, needs an automatic approval by the
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) or an approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board
(FIPB). Automatic approval by the RBI is available if the foreign direct investment in the
equity of the joint venture company does not exceed 51 percent in Annexure III and IIIB
industries; 50 percent in Annexure lIlA industries; and 74 percent in Annexure IIIC industries.
FIPB approval is required for all investment proposals that are not eligible for automatic
Furniture Industry in India 30
Steps to Establish an Office
There are some practical guidelines that new companies establishing offices in India
Identify the right decision-makers.
Keep these decision-makers and other key players briefed about your project.]
Avoid getting into the land acquisition process from private sources.
Handle local labor issues carefully, because Indian laws essentially prohibit firing
Take the opposition seriously, whether it is local politicians or residents.
The most important parameters in choosing a location in India are:
State government support and flexibility;
Cost and availability of power;
Law & order situation.
Other factors to take into account include labor availability and cost; labor relations
and work culture; and proximity to resources and/or markets.
Furniture Industry in India 31
Selling Factors & Techniques
As in all markets, selling techniques are dependent on the product and market and the
Indian market is not an exception. Generally speaking, India offer high economic growth rates
in the last years and a potential market of 1 billion people, what makes India one of the most
attractive markets around the world. However, selling techniques in India differ from other
countries because of varied consumer behavior when compared with Europe. Besides an
important factor when a foreign company reaches the Indian market for first time, it should
not forget adapt their products to Indian preferences and conditions. According with a recent
survey, the Indian market can be classified as follow:
There are a one million strong super-rich class, who has emerged at the top.
The middle class actually comprises 3 different segments.
Consumer durables are purchased by up to 28 million households, while non-durables
are bought by up to 90 million households.
Comfort and personal transport are the two most important priorities.
In the case of rural India:
The number of households exiting the low income groups is rising; rural and urban
shares of many consumables purchased are equal
Urbanization is creating rural demand for urban products
Lack of credit facilities and electrification are choking demand.
At first sight the bulk of the purchasing power in India would appear to be
concentrated in its urban markets. However, a significant majority of the Indian population
lives in the rural areas distributed over some 627,000 villages. The balance lives in 3,700
towns of which approximately 300 have a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants. It is
Furniture Industry in India 32
said that the real India lives in the villages. Currently in the villages, there has been a change
in the purchase behavior due to increasing literacy levels and explosion of media.
Significantly, most purchases are made from the household’s own income. Hire
purchase schemes and loans account for only 10 percent of rural buying. Indian consumer
habits are changing rapidly and this subtle slow change is difficult for several marketers to
perceive. Unlike the west, there are very few malls in major cities and town in India. There is
a teeming marketing layer of major and minor retailers. In addition, several companies are
offering promotional schemes and discounts during numerous Indian festivals to boost sales.
Recently, road shows have been used effectively to sell products. For consumer durable
products, which are relatively expensive, financing and buy backs, are used as incentives to
promote sales. The middle and higher middle class Indian consumer, general speaking, has
some common characteristics:
They have more loyalty to the stores where they shop and not to any particular brand.
75 percent of people like revisit the shop where they last made purchases for apparels.
The non-store retailing has caught the attention of the Indian consumer.
Although aware of the existence of non-store shopping, very few people actually shop
in this manner in India.
72 percent of consumers were aware of home/TV shopping; just 5 percent had used it.
Direct mailers fared slightly better, with 54 percent respondents saying they were
aware of this method, and only 8 percent used it.
In addition to the traditional selling techniques, the Internet is also now gaining
importance as a selling method. As the number of Internet users continues to increase due to
reduction in the cost of Internet access, the Indian e-tailing market will also expand. Although
E-tailing currently constitutes only 10-15 percent of the value of e-commerce in India, e-
commerce is projected to grow by 30 times in the next three years, which will lead to a
substantial growth in e-tailing in India. Similarly, industry experts believe that online
business-to-business (B2B) commerce is set to take off in India because it meets a genuine
need and portals offering such services are based on strong revenue models.
Furniture Industry in India 33
The National Association of Software and Services Companies estimates that web-
based B2B trade will grow to USD 2.2billion Euros in 2002-2003. There are currently more
than a dozen B2B portals in place and half have persuaded about 6,000 companies to list
goods on their websites. Although India’s rapidly growing population presents limitless
opportunity, many Indian and foreign companies have discovered that for a handful of product
categories, only a fraction of India’s population can be regarded as potential customers. Many
companies have been disappointed with the response to products that they have launched in
India over the past three years. The causes are:
Some companies grossly over-estimated the depth and size of the Indian market for
They fell in the projections for the growing middle-class ranged from 150-200 million.
They offered global brands at global prices, without any customization. Merely
transposing brands and products from other markets did not work.
A final mistake was to enter India without an efficient distribution network, forgetting
that India is a market with poor infrastructure and logistics.
A successful sales strategy will recognize and deal with the existence of strong local
competition - this exists in many products and service categories and should not be under-
estimated. Foreign firms must also carefully compare customer needs and the quality of latent
demand with the level of service that they want to offer in India. India is not a wealthy
country. Even among the affluent middle class, much of the money is spent on need-based
consumption rather than on luxury goods. So to introduce foreign products successfully all the
comments below should have in consideration.
Furniture Industry in India 34
How to Promote Furniture Sales in India
Advertisements in important national / regional news papers, interior and furniture
magazines, participation in furniture trade shows and organizing workshops and
product seminars will make a company stand out in the competition.
It is not necessary to have an all India distribution network of dealers / franchised
shops from the very beginning. Instead of thinning out, it is better to concentrate in
same regions / zones and to consolidate before expansion.
No Indian or foreign company has held product display shows in India except to some
extent Gautier (France). A furniture company should take lead in this direction and
hold shows in good hotels of India for the consumers, it will become a big hit.
Companies can have a design studio in India. There is complete vacuum, a sort of
dearth of good designers in India, especially for hotels, office and kitchen industry in
In fact the Indian companies can consider opening a design school in India for aspiring
students, which will generate big business (financial gains) for them in India, besides
giving them strong brand equity.
Furniture Industry in India 35
In 2003, the main exports were to the countries like US, Germany, UK etc. Although
the growth rates show that there is definitely a greater propensity to opening the local market
to the influence of foreign producers, incoming and outgoing trade flows are still modest. The
export is much higher than the imports but slowly the gap is bridging.
Furniture Industry in India 36
5% 5% 14%
US Germany UK France
Italy Denmark Canada Greece
Belgium Netherlands Others
India was the largest importer of furniture goods in 2003. The main imports were done
from European countries, UK, US etc. The demand for furniture items manufactured in these
countries is slowly rising in India.
While importing furniture in India, the following duty structure is applicable. The
goods may be imported by a company, institution or private individuals.
Import Duty 20 %
Counter Veiling Duty
Education Cess (2% of 0.32 %
Furniture Industry in India 37
Germany Italy Korea UK
US Denmark Irish Rep. France
Japan Poland Switzerland
Total Duty 36.32 %
While exporting, there is no duty to the Indian exporters. The duty is nil. Hence the
government is also favoring Indian Exporters by encouraging exports which has resulted in
increased exports from last few years.
Problems Faced by Foreign Companies in India
Problems from Indian Government Side
Poor labor laws v/s. Quality of workers - Outdated labor laws makes it a bit difficult to
sack I dismiss I retrench surplus or staff.
Power generation shortages and steep electricity prices – More consumption - more the
tariff bracket. Power cuts have forced most organized companies to have their own in-
house captive power plants/ diesel generator sets.
Furniture Industry in India 38
Investment & resources constraints — Attitude of Indian banks /financial institutions,
besides 12% to 15% high lending/interest costs.
Outdated and primitive banking systems
Poor infrastructure - Bad quality of roads cause delays in shipment deliveries.
Dirty industrial areas - No maintenance is done for years.
Corruption - Causes delays and irritants.
High and varied taxes – Which country would have so many types of taxes:
Customs/import duties, countervailing duties CVD ), Special additional import duties,
excise duty ( manufacturing tax ), Central Sales Tax, State Sales Tax, Octroi/municipal
tax, turnover tax, Income tax, corporate tax etc.
Problems from Indian Business Community side
• Poor communication systems - Many SME’s don’t acknowledge or respond to urgent
mails in time. The quality of letter writing is outrageous and subservient.
• Disregard of Brand valuation - For many Indian companies selling products at
cheapest possible price is the only criteria rather than brand building exercise.
• Dirty industrial areas - Poor roads, unclean and unhygienic.
Furniture Industry in India 39
• Quality apprehensions and attitude - Although due to exports and China threat many
Indian companies have incorporated 150/ UL etc., the attitude is still primitive.
• Transparent in financial issues - Due to high taxation policies of Indian government
(see above noting) many companies sell their goods to end consumers without any
recorded invoice. This generates black money.
• Poor reporting systems - Most things are controlled by owners’ family and reporting
system is non-existent in small companies.
• Unsure of requirements - Many Indian companies want foreign alliances / technical
collaborations/joint venture without even bothering to know what it means to them.
• Unfocused approach - They want to do it all, have it all, have strange attitude. Lack of
professionalism — closely held companies wants to run the show their way and lose
out in national and international markets.
• No importance of R&D and Market Research Study (MRS) - For them just copying a
design / product and selling it cheaper than the original itself is a great achievement.
• Regular delays in supplying the end products to consumers - This leads to legal and
commercial complications. The attitude is too casual.
• Poor pay masters to employees - Want to have quantity not quality in employment.
This leads to poor quality of workers and production. “No problem” attitude has
created all the problems. . They cannot and it leads to poor taste.
Action Plan For The Furniture Industry
The action plan for the industry could be on the following lines:
Benchmarking performance: Enterprises need to develop a mechanism to compare
performance with competitors in other countries. Benchmarking with most efficient
Furniture Industry in India 40
producers on all cost parameters is a must to improve the performance and remain
competitive in the globalized scenario.
Better value chain management: Improved value chain management can reduce
costs and increase flexibility. A wide sourcing base can increase flexibility when it
comes to securing raw material from the cheapest source with the quality and design
the buyer expects. Such flexibility will be a critical competitive factor in the future. By
optimizing the supply chain, lead-time will also be reduced.
Increase productivity: Investment in human capital and high-tech machinery to
increase productivity and production of internationally cost and quality competitive
Quality consciousness: To survive in the integrated world market, the industry has to
focus on the international standards of quality and excellence. To achieve
internationally comparable and quality standard finished goods, it has to be ensured
that quality parameters are maintained at each level of production from raw material to
the finished product. Introduction of latest technology can provide world class quality
in this industry.
Design & Trend: There should be a constant watch on the design trends in the
furniture market in the country as well as worldwide. The design preferences of the
consumer changes often. Hence the companies should strive hard to be in par with the
latest design trend
Modern management practices: Alongwith technology upgradation, adoption of
modern management practices is also very essential to acquire that essential
competitive edge. Management practices like JIT, TQM, supply chain management etc
form an important link between technology adoption and acquisition of
competitiveness. Adoption of such practices will result in cut-down in manufacture
and delivery lead time, improving product and process quality and improving plant
Furniture Industry in India 41
equipment maintenance. Management accountability through stricter code of corporate
governance is also necessary for balanced corporate growth.
Innovative products: The industry has to focus on innovation for surviving the stiff
international competition. ‘Production innovation’ should be considered as a dynamic
process and not as a one time process. Continuous innovation in the product is the sure
way to win the race in the global market. Companies should have a research and
development team who constantly look out for innovating the products since the taste
of the consumer changes frequently.
Develop ‘e-application: E-applications can be employed not only to sell, but also to
exchange information across electronic networks at any stage of the supply chain. E-
applications facilitate sourcing and supply chain management; production planning,
design and forward integration, including internet sales. The main goal of e-application
is to increase flexibility and to shorten the overall value chain, thus reducing lead-time.
A shift to e-applications also highlights that a company is both competitive and willing
to adjust to the demands of the market.
Alliances Between Indian And EU-USA Companies
Since the economy in India is booming up, it has become a land of opportunities for
foreign investors. Many foreign furniture companies have realized the potential of furniture
market in India and have started investing in India and have entered into tie-ups with Indian
companies. The agreement between Gautier France and the Birla Group of India from
Chennai gave rise to Gautier India, which offers the models of the French parent company.
Chairtech (France) is preparing a joint venture with a local seating producer, Vishal Chairs
Furniture Industry in India 42
The Swiss company Lista (office furniture) has signed an agreement for product
development with Matrix, a Voltas Ltd company that produces modular office
The Germans Wilhelm Bolt & Co. KG and Erich Bolte have technical agreements with
Arvind Furniture for on-the-spot production of furniture.
Steelcase (USA) sells its products in India through the most important Indian producer
of office furniture, Godrej & Boyce.
Another US company, Herman Miller, chose Featherlite as its Indian partner. Sauder
(USA), a specialist in RTA furniture, has set up a joint venture and a technical
agreement with the Indian company Sammarth Overseas & Credits Pvt. Ltd
The Italian companies Arrital Cucine and Divani Chateau d’Aux both have Indian
partners to sell their goods on the local market.
Another Italian company, Saporiti, specializing in upholstered furniture, has built a
productive plant in Pithampur in collaboration with a local company Pinnacle
Western companies are already present on the Indian market, but greater satisfaction is
undoubtedly in store from the local market with the economic development of the country
and, most importantly, with the involvement of larger groups of urban and rural residents in
this development. The improvement in living conditions, which is not confined to the large
urban centers, will definitely produce a further increase in the demand for furniture of western
Furniture Industry in India 43
Tangent Furniture Private Ltd.
A visit was conducted by me to Tangent Furniture Mall in Vashi to study in depth the
operations of a furniture company and a retail outlet. I met Mr. Kunjal Thakkar, the manager
of the the showroom at Vashi Branch and asked him various questions regarding the
operations of the company to understand the industry in depth.
Furniture Industry in India 45
Tangent Furniture Pvt. Ltd. was established in 2002 by Nenshibhai L. Shah,
chairperson. It was the first entrant in the Indian furniture market with exclusive imported
furniture along with its competitor Durian. The company opened its first exclusive showroom
at Link Road, Malad, Mumbai which was the biggest furniture showroom in the whole of
India sprawled over 55,000 sq. feet area. This was followed Mulund Branch, then Pune,
Vashi, Worli, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Chandigarh. A new branch is also
expected to open up at the end of this year in Chennai.
Tangent has the largest chain of stores of exclusive imported furniture. It is also the
largest importer of furniture in India. The list of clientele of corporate projects of Tangent
includes Reliance, D Lloyd, Pfizer, PSF chemicals, Deguza and various BPOs.
The main imports are from the Far East Asia and Europe. Out of the total product
range, 99 % of the products are imported and only 1 % is Indian.
Sales and Disribution Channel
All the branches except the Mulund branch is owned by the company. The Mulund
branch is a franchise under the name Manish Pvt Ltd. Tangent does not entertain too many
franchises like Durian. According to Mr. Kunjal, “We have created a brand image from the
past few years and to preserve this brand image we do not allow franchise”.
The length of product range in tangent is very long. It mainly focuses on residential
furniture but it also undertakes corporate projects. According to Mr. Kunjal, the size of market
of residential furniture is very large because furniture is needed in each and every house. It has
an exclusive range of sofa sets, dining sets, wall units, bed sets, workplace units, office chairs,
residential chairs, glass works, children’s furniture etc.
Furniture Industry in India 46
The operations of all branches of Tangent are controlled by the Malad branch. It is the
main branch. The records of bills and accounts of every branch is to be submitted to the Malad
branch. The purchase of furniture products is done by this branch and the supply to other
branches is also controlled by this branch. The price is also fixed centrally b this branch.
Furniture Industry in India 47
There is one central warehouse of Tangent Furniture Pvt. Ltd. in Mumbai. The
imported stock is directly carried from the port to the warehouse. Tangent has an office where
all enquiries and orders can be placed by every branch and the reply also comes from the same
office. When the order is placed, the product comes to the branch in 24 hours if in Mumbai.
Outside Mumbai, it takes more than one day to transport the products. It believes in selling off
the shelf which means if a customer likes a product, the same can be dispatched immediately.
Marketing and pricing strategies
Tangent has an in house sales team for the whole company. It does not have marketing
team for each branch. It does not participate in Trade Fairs or exhibitions. It frequently
advertises in furniture magazines, daily newspapers, other magazines. Furniture magazines
include INDEX, Inside Outside and Architecture. It also promotes its products through way of
It believes that when you enter into corporate project, you are referred by that
company to other Corporates too which is called as Word of Mouth Publicity.
The average monthly turnover of one branch of tangent is Rs. 30,00,000. On an
average the profit margin on the MRP is around 40%. The price of the product is decided by
the Malad branch. They also provide discount offers periodically. Currently they are giving
discount of flat 21 % to its customers.
After Sales Service
Since all the furniture is imported, there is no warranty or guarantee received. So we
can not pass the warranty or guarantee to our customers. If there is any damages in hardware
as in screws, nuts it can be repaired but if there is damage in the material, Tangent can’t help it
since such material is not found in India.
Furniture Industry in India 48
The Position of Furniture Industry then and now
When tangent opened its first showroom in 2002, it got a negative response because an
average Indian consumer found it costly. In 2002, very few companies had entered the market
of exclusive imported furniture and now hundreds of such companies exist in the market. The
government also favours this industry and supports the growth.
According to Mr. Kunjal Thakkar, an average common man is not able to buy
imported furniture. But the scenario will change in coming years. It is very costly to
Furniture Industry in India 49
manufacture furniture of world class quality made from machines in India. The labour costs
are very high and the raw materials is also found in some specific countries. Hence it is
feasible to import such furniture instead of manufacturing it.
The customers are shifting from hand made furniture to machine made furniture
because carpenters can not make furniture of such quality and design which is made by
machines in other countries. “In 8 – 10 years, this industry would definitely boom, since the
consumer is increasingly being conscious about looks, design and budget”, says Mr. Kunjal
Furniture Industry in India 50
A special snap shot….
Modular Office Furniture
New paradigms now define the design of workplace furniture. The human factor is no
longer the incidental element. Having acknowledged the link between productivity and well-
being, the path was set for what is now called “ergonomics” or furniture design as if people
mattered. The understanding of form and functionality developed into a more scientific
Furniture Industry in India 51
approach to designing the workspace and changed the way corporate India looks. Quick to
follow the trend set by the corporate world; small business too has adopted the new look and
in so doing, created an enormous market for workplace furniture. The manufacturers’ story is
lighting to retain the Indian pie. This recent dramatic change is driven by the changing profile
of business, and the pace of twenty-first century life. The cost of rental and the fact that most
offices need to be occupant-ready yesterday ‘have necessitated the quick solution — offices
that can be put together fast, with minimum fuss and maximum efficiency. In addition, the
development of specialized niches in the corporate function, has created whole new office
environments such as communication (call) centers, while the older “new” sectors —
information technology (IT), banking, FMCG and telecom are sprawling displays of the
versatile, new office look While this look incorporates all the right elements of ergonomic
design, its also the new corporate signature. Stuffy cabins with boring, often ugly, functional
furniture are out. An open conversational setting, complemented by elements of elegance and
style, is the pretty new face of the business world. The explosion in the market has pushed the
Office furniture majors - Godrej, Blowplast India, Featherlite, PSL Modular Office Systems,
N R Jasani and Shapoorji Pallonji.
I gained knowledge from some key players of this industry, who provided valuable
insights into what are available, trends and materials, to illuminate the dynamics of the
market, but could only confirm that the exact proportion of office furniture to the total
furniture industry is hard to assess.
They manufacture significant numbers and cater to an enormous market, but the
manufacture of office furniture is not their core business. Furniture accounts for a fraction of
Furniture Industry in India 52
the total range of manufacturing of the INR 18 billion Godrej group, at INR 4 billion (400
crores), while the INR 7.5 billion Shapoorji group has a turnover of INR 350 million in the
office segment. Similar proportions hold true for the INR 5 billion PSL group, whose office
furniture accounts for just INR 100 million.
This recent focus on office furniture saw most companies starting manufacture after
1990 or in the early 2000s. Even Godrej, who are perceived as being in the “Business
Forever”, set up their office furniture division only in 1992. This period also saw the entry of
smaller, more focused manufacturers into the offi6e furniture market such as Steel & Woods
and V3 Engineers.
Manufacturers appear segmented at opposite ends of the office furniture spectrum,
with the larger furniture majors offering complete office solutions (desking, storage, seating,
cubicle structures), including design and layout, and a group of chair specialists (Amber,
Eurotech, Euromic,) sticking to their core competence.
Behavioral scientists tell us that matchbox structures enclosing individuals and cutting
out visual and other communication, decrease productivity. Open offices improve teaming,
eliminate non value added activity, and are the new design mantra. Leading manufacturers
have developed variants of this system. Godrej, for instance, offers five variants of the open
plan office with panel, tile, column, desk and combination spine and fin based systems. Such
systems are modular, flexible, and upgradeable and can address needs for acoustics, privacy
and cable management while making it easy to configure offices to suit different work
Not withstanding the change in trend towards integrated workstations, freestanding
desks continue to remain an important element of office furniture. Senior executive tables
have become more stylish and functional, and may be upgraded with side or back units for an
independent work place.
Furniture Industry in India 53
Most manufacturers offer a range of products at varying price quality levels. A mid-
range executive suite consisting of desking and storage, would vary in price between NP
35,000 to INP 150,000, while the upper ranges would start at about INR 200,000 and zoom
upward,depending on the design component and the degree of customization. The enormous
demand for call center modules has inspired manufacturers to offer systems ranging from
INR. 7,000 to INP. 25,000.The continuous enhancement in information technology has made
an impact on conferencing equipment as well, leading to a range of pre-wired, modular
conference tables of varying contours and finishes. Chairs too have undergone a major
metamorphosis, with the maximum research and studies being carried out on seating systems.
Prices for chairs range from NP 3,500 for regular seating, with CEO level seating going up to
INR 150,000. The middle range of seating at the INR 13,000- 14,000 is most popular.
“The current trend is for office furniture that is not only functional but also aesthetic.
A few decades ago, the ‘people’ factor, played almost no role in determining the design of the
office. Offices are being increasingly designed by professionals who, apart from seeing that
the spaces work with optimum utilization, are able to add an aesthetic touch. The atmosphere
in the office can greatly influence work output and an increasing emphasis is being placed on
making the modern office as pleasant as it is functional, This is not always easy, given the
increasingly smaller workspaces to contend with. In such a set-up, going modular is a great
idea.” Ranjit Bakshi - Head, Marketing BP Ergo
Furniture Industry in India 54
Offices are trying to move away from airless, box-like rooms to better-ventilated,
well-lit, ergonomically sensitive spaces
Like any other furniture, office storage needs have changed. With office space
becoming more and more expensive, it has become imperative to develop storage systems that
store more in less footprint space. A clear demarcation of personalized and centralized
storage, which could be modular and integrated with system furniture to stand above
centralized storage, is the trend of the day. Multipurpose storage facilities incorporate the
facility to store a variety of material (box / flat files, books, ledgers) in predetermined, easily
The change in the design and planning of office spaces has been complemented by
changes in what makes up furniture and systems. The old standard of wood and steel has been
replaced by more technologically advanced and ecologically friendly fiberboard, glass and
metal. A combination of materials like wood and steel break the monotony of one material,
Furniture Industry in India 55
while the use of technologies like membrane pressing has led to the development of stylish
desking systems at affordable prices.
“Materials used in manufacture tall into two categories”, according to Rajan Bahri of
PSL, “core material and finishing material’. The core materials need to be sturdy and
supportive by definition, steel or aluminum as framework materials, supporting particleboard,
MDF and pre-laminated board. Finishing materials span the gamut from laminate, veneer,
fabric, glass and PVC edge lipping”
New needs and new patterns of manufacturing have engendered a new activity - the
design of office furniture. Designing of storage, for instance, is a science that involves a study
of the flow of documents, frequency of their use, the type and size of document binders before
designing a proper solution.
As Anil Mathur of Godrej sees it, “No more is the emphasis only on aesthetics or
engineering, today’s designs integrate not only aesthetics and engineering but material
services, ergonomics, and human behavioral sciences.” So who brings this basket of varied
skills to the table? “A product designer trained in ergonomic norms” according to Amber’s K
D Nirmal, “An engineer” says Manjit Shandil of Steel and Woods, “An architect”, says
Several manufacturers have their own in-house design teams, who work in tandem
with the architect and design community to create products that are a contradiction in terms -
customized system furniture. In reality, the large volumes required by each project make it
Furniture Industry in India 56
feasible to create products that vary within a band, offering a degree of customization to each
Large manufacturers like Godrej push out the boundaries of the concept with a fully
integrated design center and knowledge center where their design cell directly interfaces with
the architect and design community.
Anil Mathur of
Godrej tells , ‘The world
over, furniture manufacturers
are moving towards being
solution providers - right
from designing the layout and
furniture to execution of the
project. Their experience and
research in office furniture
and designing have made
them expand their horizons
into the area of interiors.
Working in tandem with the
A&D community, the large
manufacturers today offer a
‘Single Window Concept’ to
With several global majors selling up communication centers in India, industry pundits
foresee enormous growth in the demand for call center and software industry modules, and
have started manufacturing need-specific modules for these industries.
The need to stay on top of things in a large, but increasingly competitive market, has
inspired manufacturers to add value or maintain their stance various ways, starting with
quality control. The bigger players have international certification on quality norms. For
Furniture Industry in India 57
instance, Blowplast follows ANSI & BIFMA norms and has received ISO 9001 certification
by BVQI, Belgium for ‘design, manufacture, supply, installation and servicing of office
furniture systems’. Similarly, Godrej boasts ISO- 9001-2000 and 180-14000 certifications as
well as manufacture in accordance with BIFMA standards.
In addition, several of the top 5 manufacturers have turned overseas for inspiration,
buying technology, or products, or both from the market leaders of Europe, the USA and
Oceania.( See box Above)
All roads, both Indian and international, lead to the design of office spaces as if people
mattered. This is the new marketing mantra. And it works. Ergonomics is the driving concept
of the new office. The importance of ergonomic seating is underscored by the fact that an
average office worker spends approximately 80,000 hours seated, during his career. By
adopting unique communication strategies, companies attempt to create an edge over
competition as well as carve a niche for themselves in the market.
While ergonomics became the buzzword in industry circles, some went a step further,
as did Godrej who made the “Health-Seating” platform their own. Group President P D F Lam
puts it succinctly, “Furniture is an essential part of good health. We do not merely sell pieces
Furniture Industry in India 58
of furniture, like chairs or tables, w sell health”. So while Godrej cornered the niche on health,
BlowPlast explored the pleasure principle. As Ranjit Bakshi, Head Marketing Blow Plast
Ergonomics explains, “Workstations are designed in a manner that facilitate teamwork and
allow free flow of information, while at the same time respecting the employee’s privacy. The
underlying philosophy being to create a healthy work environment that raises the motivation
level of employees creating ‘Pleasure at Work’
Mere mantras don’t do the trick. Indian manufacturers have their marketing plans in
place, coupled with a game plan to target market their products to their main clients -
corporate or the main decision makers. In most cases, this is the specific architects and
designers who work with large projects and are responsible for the design and layout,
including the interiors, of large office projects. Manufacturers have various strategies to attract
and directly interact with the specifier.
Some organize custom mockups of furniture especially for individual architects; a
procedure which J K Chabbra of Shapoorji says is both tedious and expensive. Others offer
the architect a range to choose from at showrooms or specialized design centers, such as the
Godrej Knowledge Centre.
Large manufacturers with a serious scale of operation have an all India network of
showrooms or franchisees. All manufacturers also have partners and tie-ups with retailers
across the country, gaining visibility without the burden of showroom costs. BlowPlast have
over 1000 installations across India, with showrooms in 8 metros, complemented by a tie-up
with 40 business associates across India. PSL has a presence in the 10 largest markets, while
Godrej is India’s largest office furniture manufacturer employing more than 800 employees, a
distribution network of over 640 dealers, 24 branches and 31 showrooms, all - India. The
smaller companies usually have a regional focus, with national aspirations. Steel & Woods
with a focus on the Mumbai market relies on a marketing team to ensure the product reach
across the country, as does Amber which sees 60 percent of its material being absorbed into
the Mumbai / Pune market, and the rest being dispatched to other regions via its marketing
Furniture Industry in India 59
Several manufacturers export a part of their production, mainly to Europe and the USA. The
base support to the marketing plan is their promotional plan, which, on overview, appears
conventional rather than adventurous, with all companies favoring advertising and trade fairs
in approximately a 70 30 or 60: 40 ratio of ad spend.
What has been the government response to all this frenetic activity? Rajan Bahri of
PSL says the recommendation of the 5th Pay Commission to incorporate modular structures
into offices was a step in the right direction. However, most manufacturers agree that the
burden of excise and other taxes diminishes the attraction of manufacturing.
A glance around the country confirms the dominance of the big five manufacturers,
who account for most office furniture retailed in the secondary markets. An educated guess at
the size of the office furniture market in New Delhi puts it at about 10 billion INR, where
branded products account for between 10 and 20 per cent of the total. Market leaders Godrej
control an estimated 60 percent of this.
Regional manufacturers also handle a significant share of the pie. These include the
Continental Group (LineA furniture) in Delhi, Ergotek and Eurost Products in Bangalore and
Steelco in Kolkata.
Recent Developments As Discussed At Index Furniture Fair In
Mumbai, Sept. 2006
Furniture Industry in India 60
What the world at large glibly refers to as ‘call centers’ encompasses the entire BPO
and call center industry. As one might expect, it’s hardly as simple as that. The gamut of back
office operations falls into several segments, some of which are voice based (real call centers)
and those that provide non-voice- based back office services including data processing,
transcription, pay roll processing, legal analysis and software development for specialized
uses. These include call centers and BPOs for data processing, KPOS involving a more
specialized and better educated staff including scientists, doctors or lawyers, ITES and IT
offices. Icapil Agarwal says the profile of outsourcing to India has itself changed, “As the
importance of India’s quality labor and talent pool is widely being recognized, we will go
higher up in the value chain.”
“We don’t treat all software companies the same way and all BPO5 the same way. Each
company has an inner cultural preference which is different from other companies and which
we try to understand.” Ar. Jessy Jacob (Jessy Jacob associates)
Each niche has its special design requirements. Discussing the differences in profile,
Ar. Jessy Jacob, Jessy Jacob Associates, Bangalore adds, “The average age group in a typical
BPO ranges from 17 to 24 years and 22 to 30 years in a software company, while in
corporate offices the age group is 40 to 50 years. A BPO or a call center has a college
campus atmosphere, so the offices have to be fun, young and happy so that it can cater to that
The reputation and scale of operation of the service provider or manufacturer is a
factor in who initiates the buyer-seller dialogue. Large architect firms are directly contacted
by the client who then continues the interaction with the architect, while the project
management consultant joins the equation further down the line. In other cases, the project
management consultant assumes a more pivotal role, coordinating and initiating activities
starting from the architect to all service and product suppliers.
The next point in the interaction is the design brief, which varies in length and detail,
depending on the experience of the client. The novelty of the industry itself means that several
clients are first-timers who require a high degree of hand-holding including visits to offices
with a similar design profile as a familiarization exercise. Architects then confer with their
Furniture Industry in India 61
clients to understand their corporate culture after which they work out several design options,
one of which finally selected by the client. 3D images and mock-ups follow and the job enter
the execution stage.
The issues peculiar to this industry have also necessitated sector-specific solutions. Ar.
Brinda Somaya, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants, says, “The biggest change has been in terms
of the services that go into any one of these commercial spaces. When I began many years
ago, it was furniture, accessories, flooring, ceiling, lighting and air conditioning. But today it
is the communication system, the security system, the data cabling and the computer systems
that are very important. I think the skill of the architect lies in how they are able to integrate
all the services.” Ar. Sanjeev Mehta, Director, Ethique, Mumbai adds, “The heart of a BPO is
data cabling and the server room plays a major role.”
architects say design does not change drastically from a regular software development or other
IT office to a BPO, issues like space and the schedules that BPO staff work, become factors in
designing these spaces. Ar. Asha Kushalappa says, “BPOs are more intense as we fit in 1000
employees into a limited space, while in the IT sector, the same amount of space houses only
Furniture Industry in India 62
500 employees.” The space crunch is balanced out by efficient HVAC, as the conditioned air
must be well circulated to combat oxygen- deprivation and the lethargy it induces. The fact of
employees working shifts creates a bottleneck which architects must factor in. Ar. Jessy Jacob
says, “Employees have to record their log in and log out time. There could be 400 people
waiting to go out and another 400 waiting to come in, so we have multiple access control with
biometric log—in and out systems.” Broader (6 foot) passages reduce congestion and
claustrophobia. Issues arising out of repetitive work such as fatigue and frustration are
addressed by creating ‘break out’ spaces ranging from interesting cafeterias to in-house
gymnasia and chill out zones where employees can re- energize before they get back to the
grind. Architects must also accommodate the fact that shift continues in to the night and the
atmosphere of the bpo must replicate a day time environment making lighting a central issue.
“The biggest change has been in terms of the services that go in to any one of these
commercial spaces. I think the skill of the architect lies in how they are able to integrate all the
services.” –Brinda Somaya
The new industry segment has brought a whole new ethos of work culture with it. An
interesting anomaly that’s everywhere in the BPO related construction and interiors industry is
that there is a lot of business, but no one is taking anythingfor granted and competition has
become frenetic. As in most things, the fallout has been of both kinds; while professionalism
has certainly improved, the competition is sometimes gruesome, with aesthetics and design
being the first casualties. The industry that turned time on its head for the staff of the BPO
services industry has also had an effect on the timelines associated with set up.
Architects and builders across the board exclaim over how quickly projects are put
together. Regarding the fit out, Ar. Ashish Gupta, Senior Architect, Design Plus, Delhi says,
“The time taken to set up a BPO is 35 days to 3 months, and Completion to an extent depends
on the size of the project but not much. If it is about 500,000 to a million square feet, it can be
done in 3 to 4 months.”
“BPOs hove completely changed the landscape of interior construction industry. The
scale of projects has gone up tremendously in terms of area and the budgets available have
Furniture Industry in India 63
increased. BPOs, call centers and such big projects demand different kind of office buildings
which comply with their requirements.”- kalhan mattoo,planet 3 studios pvt ltd
The explanation lies in another outcome of the BPO industry. Manufacturers and
suppliers of furniture have become far more organized as well as professional; several have
set up large-scale mechanized manufacturing facilities using German or Italian machinery to
do the job better. Prakash Gurbaxani, CEO, TSI Ventures (India), Bangalore says,
“Deregulation in imports of material has helped. Today, things like furniture and high-end
equipment can be easily imported. There are Indian companies who are in collaboration with
foreign manufacturers and manufacturing in India; so there is an efficient technology
“Things have changed dramatically over the years in the construction industry. The
quality of workmanship and equipment used has changed drastically. Today we use laser
technology to level the ceiling which was not there twenty years ago.- prakash gurbaxani tsi
Furniture Industry in India 64
The Markets & The Future
The way it works for the greater part of the industry is that builders set up a complete
building and thereafter lease out parts of it, floorwiseorotherwise, to SPOsorcall centers for a
period of between three and five years. Ar. Venkatesh says, “We have a healthy mix of both in
the south. We did almost a million square feet of fit outs last year and we are doing two
million square feet of new shells.”
SANDOZ PVT LTD : EURO OFFICE SYSTEMS LTD,MUMBAI
Builders and developers with a highly diversified portfolio are still focused to the
residential and commercial project market, with the upstart SPO industry quickly growing
within the portfolio. The share of this industry in the portfolio of a well-established developer
with a much diversified range would be in the region of 18 to 20 per cent. Newer entrants like
Regenesis, Pune move this up to 30 to 40 percent of their portfolio. Architects too have seen a
rise in the importance of the BPO segment in their portfolios, with the older and larger
architect firms putting this figure around the 10 per cent mark ,and the newer firms (dwp
interics, Ethique) seeing the segment account for almost half their business. Kshitij Limaye,
Director, Sankalpan, Mumbai says the last two years have seen a drastic increase in the
proportion of BPOs in their portfolio from between 25 and 30 percent to over 48 percent.
Furniture Industry in India 66
Commenting upon the constitution of the BPO segment within the larger IT arena,
Ar.Venkatesh says; “BPOs and call centers form 10 percent of the projects that we do,
because we have a pretty diverse portfolio. We do lot of data centers, software development
companies, labs and testing facilities and hardware assembling facilities. The percentage of
the IT sector would be about 50 to 55 percent.” Ar. Sunil Gambani of Architect Hafeez
Contractor also says they have a highly diversified portfolio, including residences, commercial
complexes and airports, making their BPO-centric business a small proportion, but important
part of the total.
lnspite of the huge volumes of business, industry experts have only short term
expectations for what’s called the call center boom. Some put the figure atjust three years;
others let the wave ride to five, while few expect it to last much longer than between three and
five years. Bangalore-based furniture manufacturer Manohar Gopal, Director, Featherlite
Products, has seen the diversification within the IT industry at first hand and he predicts that
there will be more specialized IT enabled services coming in, which will generate the need for
their own specific furniture.
Furniture Industry in India 67
Materials and Manufacturers
Materials available on the market include the entire gamut of plywood, marine ply,
veneers, glass and steel. High wearing materials like vitrified tiles, ceramic tiles, wooden
flooring, granite flooring, laminated flooring, vinyl flooring, Italian marbles etc. are preferred
for flooring. Areas which are higher circulation zones normally have hard flooring and areas
which are more cozy have wooden or vinyl flooring and the office areas have carpeting. In
call centers normally glass is not widely used as it’s a non acoustical material. Solid partitions
made of gypsum, laminate, plywood or MDF are common. Newer materials like column
cladding and innovations like glazing partitions are in over the last couple of years.
Wooden worktops have given way to the range of options offered by membrane press
technology. “Nobody uses wood nowadays. MOE and rubber wood are common. Tables are
tucked with aluminum and MS traming,”says Ar. Sanjeev Mehta. Others innovate with local
materials. Ar. Jaisim mentions wood and clay products, while Ashwin Utturkar, Wood
Culture, Pune says materials and panel-based industry has not changed in the recent past, but
the real advances have been madein furniture hardware, which makes for a superior product.
According to Adurthi S. Rao, Director, Form Design, Mumbai, materials can vary according
to the weather conditions in different cities in India. Aluminum is highly recommended in
cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata where humidity is high. We source it from jindal and
also from a local supplier from Gujarat,” he says.
Kamal Charan, Managing Director, Ergotek Seating Systems, Bangalore, says that all
the component parts of the chairs they manufacture are available on the Indian market, with
only the gas lift mechanism being imported from Korea, Thailand or China, whereas Ganesh
Kudva of Pentavision Pvt. lid., Bangalore, says, they always import components tram
countries like Malaysia and China. Praveen Bohara, Ergomaxx India Pvt. Ltd., Chennai, says
the Indian market services all their requirements.
Furniture Industry in India 68
FACTORY OF EURO
OFFICE SYSTEMS AT DAMAN
Furniture as the single largest component of the interiors budget (8O to 70 percent)
commands a healthy respect in the industry as is evident by the number of mid sized
companies who have either entered the manufacturing industry or diversified into the
manufacture of BPO specific products or re-organized themselves to better service the
industry. The rampant growth in the industry has attracted several smaller manufacturers or
interior contractors of varying scale to enter the lucrative ITES furniture market. Firdaus
Chindhy, Chindhy’s Interiors, Pune, active in turnkey projects for residential furniture began
manufacturing to cater to this new segment of the market four months ago and plans to expand
further through a tie up with an Italian brand soon. Similarly, Pan Office Systems Pvt. Ltd.,
Pentavision Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore; Magnaa Modules and Systems Pvt. Ltd. and Ergomaxx India
Pvt. Ltd., Chennai who were earlier supplying finished products to renowned branded players,
have moved away to create their own brands. Among the manufacturers, several medium and
small players say they import almost all their machinery from Italy and Germany; still others
buyall their requirementof pneumatic machinery in India from dealers of imported machinery
and tools. Large players in the industry pay attention to quality to match international
standards for manufacturing facilities. “All the equipment that we have is either German or
Italian. The investments are getting very heavy. If we have to retain the position that we are
in, we need to invest more in the business,” says Manohar Gopal, Director of Featherlite
Furniture Industry in India 69
Products, and Bangalore. Constant investment in upgrading technology or adding on new
operations seems to be an imperative for the larger players.
K.A. Parameswaran, COO, Style Spa, Chennai, says, you have to invest in (to service)
certain segments because they will have some specific requirements in terms of machinery
and support activities; we have invested in a paint shop where we undertake various kinds of
painting like powder coating on metal as well as on wood bases.”
“If India has to really come up in
furniture market, all furniture
manufacturers should came together and
put up their furniture far world exposure,
so the world market knows that India is
also capable of giving good furniture at a
reasonable price.” kamal charan - ergotek
Furniture Industry in India 70
Costs of fit out
While the general look of the furniture for the ITES industries follows a norm, what
lurks below the laminate creates a quality / price divide between products. Suppliers mention
that the price ranges of the products supplied to BPOs and call centers do differ (see box) and
the market will always have a segment of buyers who are solely price driven rather than
product or people driven. Though design conforms to certain standard norms, the demand is
for sturdy products that can handle a high degree of wear and tear, for at least three or four
According to the general consensus, furniture accounts for about 50 percent of the
budget; while another 15 percent goes into the air conditioning, 20 to 25 percent goes into the
wiring and electricals and the rest goes into furnishing, murals and other artifacts. Architects
and interior designers come up with contrasting figures on the overall spend on the interiors.
While some state that the base prices for interiors start at INR 500 per square foot, the average
figure agreed upon by the most stand sat INR 1200 per square foot while fit-outs for MNCs
stretch this amount to INR 5000 per square foot — the cost of “true international standards.”
All this expertise comes at a cost. Architects and designers fees add to the bill, but are
seen as an acceptable part of the expenditure on set up and fit out. Some bill clients by the
project, with a one time cost (lump sum fees) while others charge a percentage of the turnover
of the project or a per square foot rate. Interestingly, the fee by the hour norms that exist in the
USA have not yet hit Indian markets. “Our service charges vary from about minimum of 5
percent to over 12 percent, depending upon the complexity and the amount of services
required,” says Ar. K. Jaisim, while Ar. Ajit Jam says, “We charge a fee for our consultancy
that depends on various factors like the size of the project and scope of work.” Ar Ashish
Gupta puts this figure at 4 to 5 percent of the total project cost and Ar. Sanjeev Mehta says
larger spaces get a lower charge. “For example if you charge INR 5 per square foot for a small
project, the rate for 100,000 square feet would come down to INR 3 or INR 4. The charges are
now INR 10 to INR 11 per square foot,” he concludes.
Furniture Industry in India 71
Furniture Industry in India 72