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BW Businessworld

Modular Gets Popular

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After getting a 70 per cent share of the chimney market in eastern India, the Rs 100-crore kitchen brand Kutchina is now plotting its “go north” strategy. Namit Bajoria, Director, Kutchina, talks to BW’s Tanuja Chatterjee, about the company’s expansion plans and trends in the modular kitchen sector.

You have been primarily concentrating on the eastern region of India. Do you have plans to expand elsewhere?  Can you share your marketshare figures?
We are headquartered in Kolkata but we operate pan India through our distribution network. Our production centre is in Kolkata and now we are looking north to expand Kutchina in terms of availability as well as production. We are planning to set up a new production base in Delhi which will allow us to cater to the northern market more easily. Beefing up presence in western as well as southern regions will have to wait for now. 
 
Most of our sales come from West Bengal, the North East, Orissa and Chhattisgarh markets. These are our growth driving regions. We have 70-80 per cent market share in the Eastern region while Pan India, overall, our market share is 18 per cent.
 
What is your retail strategy? Do you have your own stores?
In the eastern region, we are a well known brand and have many stores in Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar and Kolkata. Initially, we want to create brand recognition and awareness among the customers. Once that is done, it will be easy for us to tie up with multiband stores as well. We have our distributors everywhere and we possess a very strong marketing network. We will soon have independent stores for Kutchina in the northern region as well.
 
What are your revenue expectations from the expansion move?
For this financial year we are targeting Rs 125-140 crore from all over India. Last year, we had a turnover of Rs 100 crore and so this year we are targeting a 25-30 per cent growth.
 
Apart from chimneys and modular kitchens, what are the products you deal with? Given that so many players are in this space today, how do you differentiate your offerings?
We deal with all kinds of kitchen appliances but mostly concentrate on kitchen chimneys. Apart from that, we also have products such as kitchen hobs, gas stoves, water filters, RO systems and modular kitchens.
 
There are lots of players in India who deal with kitchen appliances, but we differentiate our product by implementing the auto clean technology in the chimneys, which is the USP of our product. All the chimneys sold in India have a filter technology that demands a cleaning process after every 15 days..  But for our latest range of chimneys supported by LCD monitor, one button press enables the killing of germs and cleans everything.
 
In western countries, from where the modular kitchen and chimney concept has come in, the cooking part is just restricted to 6 hours a week, but in India it is a 16-hour phenomenon. Due to the vast difference in the functioning of Indian and western household, we design our product keeping the durability as the main concern and then concentrate on other needs of our customers.
 
Recently you have forayed into Jamshedpur. Is the trend of modular kitchens catching on in small cities?
We are getting a good response from the consumers there. In eastern parts it is highly accepted, and in North India we have just started. Today customers want to enjoy luxury, so there are high-end customers who are looking for something different. There are customers who can afford costly and blingy stuff, and there are customers who can afford products with a general price structure. Our products cater all kinds of customers broadly.
 
So, is the modular kitchen concept now becoming a mass product?
Thanks to the price factor, in India, modular kitchen is considered a premium product. But as cost of living rises, people from middle and upper middle class are being forced to dwell in smaller apartments. To make optimum usage of the limited space, people have started opting for modular kitchens.
 
In order to cater to this sudden demand for modular kitchens among the middle class, companies are now providing economy modular kitchens. The starting range for such kitchens is Rs 50,000- 75,000 and above .This cost efficient segment is now very much a fancy of the middle and upper middle class.

Are you tying up with real estate firms for modular kitchens?
We are talking to promoters and developers in the northern part of India like DLF etc. In the eastern region, we are already a brand name and don’t need to such connections with realty firms. But we love to cater to our customers individually, because that is where our strength lies.
 
Kutchina has not been visible in terms of advertising. Do you plan to do any mass advertising? Are your products available online?  
From the next financial year, we will be seen heavily on the TV commercials in India. In the eastern part of India, people already are familiar with our brand and see our advertisements there. Now, we are planning to advertise our products in northern region as well and customers will soon see us more frequently all over. For now we are just concentrating on the advertisements for broadcasting medium. We don’t have any plan to make our products available on the online portals.
 
Any future plans for your brand?
We want to have a strong position in North India by next year. Then we will accordingly plan our strategies for other parts as well.