Capitalising on expanding the presence of its Indian home appliances brand Maharaja Whiteline, France-based Groupe SEB (P) Ltd is gearing for rapid expansion while emerging as one of the fastest growing organisations in 2014-15. Emmnuel Serot Almeras, Vice President, Groupe SEB India, spoke to Retailer Media about the strategies of the company to become a market leader.
Q Since its inception in 2011, how has been the journey of Groupe SEB so far in India?
It’s been a positive journey so far in the Indian market. We are leading well. India is a fast growing market and we had no choice but to focus on this market. Since we started with a joint venture with Maharaja Whiteline in 2011, it’s been a growing journey so far. We acquired 100 per cent stake in Maharaja in 2014 and started operating of our own.
With the market of Indian home appliances growing by 10 per cent yearly, we witnessed a growth of 40 per cent in 2014-15 fiscal. Although China is our biggest market, India has the potential to be there in the coming years. We are investing heavily in this market and we could build up our image as one of the fastest growing organisations.
The market share of Maharaja Whiteline is continuously growing with growing demand and an increased product portfolio. Our dedicated customer care, distributors care and dealer care service has helped us to effectively connect with business drivers. We are here for a longer inning.
Q Are you planning of more acquisitions after Maharaja Whiteline?
In the short run, we are not planning of acquiring any Indian brand but in the long run, certainly we could. The reason we are not planning of acquiring new brand yet, is because, currently, we are completely focusing on widening the reach of Maharaja in the Indian market. We are facing a tough competition from Bajaj, which is a number one brand in the market. Our main focus is to penetrate our brand deeper into the market in combination with traditional retail. We have redeveloped Maharaja Whiteline to make it more competitive.
Also, we are planning of launching one of our leading international brands namely Tefal, Rowenta and Krups in the Indian market by 2016. We will decide soon on what one should be launched.
Q Have you added new products in your category of home appliances?
In the year 2014, we had added around 70 mid-premium products in the categories of kitchen appliances, home comfort and garment care. The range is comprised of mixer grinder, juicer mixer grinder, food processor, air cooler, room heater, garment cleaner and much more. All the products have new designs, packaging and come with a promise of International quality standard of Groupe SEB while being manufactured in India.
Surprisingly, before the end of 2015 we will be adding 60 more innovative products to lure Indian consumers.
Q Are these products specific for Indian consumers; value-for-money products?
Keeping in mind the tendency of Indian consumers, all these are value-for-money products to match the needs of the final buyers. Thus, to match the cost effectiveness of the product with consumer affordability, 80 per cent of these products are manufactured in our designated manufactured unit in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh.
Q What is your target consumer group and the price range?
We believe in quality and we cater to mid-premium consumer group. We focus on 24 to 44-year-old women based in tier I to tier V cities and towns. The price range of our products starts from Rs 2000 to Rs 12000; that is for mixer grinder to air cooler respectively.
Q What do you think of expanding your manufacturing plants in India with increasing product portfolios? What could be the amount of investment?
Yes, with the increasing demand and product portfolio, there is a rising need for increasing manufacturing capacities, so we are upgrading our existing unit which is spread over 10 acres of land. The unit has in-house product development team which is supported by design, R&D and quality check specialists.
Further, the unit will be equipped with upgraded technology and more machines for larger production. Our decision of manufacturing in India is encouraged by the government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign. I cannot reveal the amount of investment proposed for the upgradation of unit, it is not in the policies of the company.
Q How many retail stores, dealers and distributors you have in your network?
Maharaja has emerged as a leader in Gujarat, UP and Rajasthan. Across the country, with the help of 500 distributors, we supply to around 35, 000 outlets including MBO’s, Mom and Pop shops, modern retails like Star CJ, Spencer, Vijay Sale, Aditya Birla Hypermarkets, megastores like Reliance Digital, Big Bazaar, E-Zone and regular distributors.
Simultaneously, our products are traded on online platforms namely, Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal at the same price online. We don’t offer discounts online, as 70 per cent of our sale comes from traditional offline retail and we don’t want to hurt their business. We are also open for future ventures with more online retailers to reach to the mass consumer base in urban and rural India.
Q What is your expansion plan ahead?
In the north-west region, we are presently focusing on Maharashtra with cities like Mumbai, Nagpur, Nasik and Pune. Whereas, in North-East we are eyeing for rapid expansion in tier I to V cities in Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar. With the expansion, we aim to carry forward the Maharaja Whiteline’s annual growth of 40 per cent by focusing on the development plans laid down by the management of Groupe SEB.
Q Being world’s largest home appliances maker, how do you find competition here?
India is a very fragmented market with lot of regional players serving masses, but similarly, Maharaja’s wider outreach has helped us gain larger ground while positioning well to compete. No matter how bigger the fragmented market it is, there is always scope for national brands.