Wood flooring is now considered a status symbol: Aashish Poojari

In conversation with Aashish Poojari, Director, Havwoods India, who talks about the brands decision to enter Indian market.
Aashish Poojari, Director, Havwoods India

Over 4 decades of sourcing the finest hardwood flooring, Havwoods has positioned itself as a wooden flooring expert. Their commitment to quality, expertise and service has made them the foremost hardwood flooring company for architects, designers and specifiers in many countries around the world. Aashish Poojari, Director of Havwoods India talks about stepping into the Indian market and the perks of it.

What held you back from India for so long?
It was just a matter a time. Havwoods has been focusing on the UK market and now we are one of the market leaders there. We very successfully forayed into Australia in 2010 which was very encouraging for our global roll out strategy. We did this in phases – London, Rome, New York, Berlin, Riyadh, Dubai, etc. We had our sights set on India too and debuted here at the right time.

India is traditionally a stone market, but it is gradually opening up to wooden flooring. Growing global exposure and influence plays a major role in this change. Our work with brands like Marks & Spencer, Sony, Aston Martin, Starbucks, Nandos, etc. have enhanced Havwoods’ appeal worldwide and earned us universal acceptance.

We are excited to be in India and bring our high quality, environment friendly products.

Tell us about your recent showroom in Mumbai?
Our Mumbai showroom is a sprawling 5000sq. ft. customer centre located in the Interior Design District of south Mumbai. Over 300 shades in real wood flooring are displayed and shown off proudly in an ambient and pleasant setting. Large sample planks, detailed catalogues with the latest trends, techniques, colors, and concepts as well as trained staff help clients make informed decisions.

Where do you get the material for your trade from and what is your selection criterion?
Europe is our primary source. European quality and craftsmanship is immaculate as the continent has a long history of working with wood and using wooden flooring. We work with reliable and responsible suppliers who reflect the Havwoods values and vision.

Another important factor that we focus on is environment friendliness. All our products are PEFC and FSC certified. In short we look at quality as well as sustainability while choosing our partners.

What is the range of pricing of your services and products?
There is something for everyone. Be it colors, textures, finishes or price points. Our collection of over 300 shades keeps increasing as more are added regularly! The prices range falls between Rs. 400 to Rs. 2000 per sq. ft.

What kinds of warranty and benefits do you offer your customers?
We provide FSC certified products and provide upto 20 years warranty. Our products are reliable, durable and of premium quality. If proper installation and maintenance techniques are followed, Havwoods flooring will last very long.

Talk about the inspirational products offered by your company?
As I said we have a wide range of products displayed in the showroom and all of them are inspirational in their own way. Our premium offering - the Handgrade collection is designed for large spaces that require a very different approach to flooring than the regular ones. The planks are made with the deepest seen beveled edges to give it a smooth, worn surface & allow for finesse in fixing. Every plank in this collection is hand worked, lending a unique character to each. These planks reimagine the way large spaces are designed, thought of and even used. They are perfect for farm houses, villas, large halls, restaurants, bars, galleries, bungalows and any other place that demands grandeur.  

Another product that we proudly present is the Herringbone Relik Collection. The Herringbone Relik line is a stellar range created from reclaimed planks for floors, walls, ceilings, and doors. Every plank has been weathered under severe conditions, making it sturdy and ready for Indian monsoons, extreme winter, sweltering heat and everything in between. The weathering lends these planks a distinct vintage look that’s perfect for chic bars and restaurants, premium hotels, luxury homes and multipurpose outhouses. Hand-weathered by artisans who have worked on Eastern Orthodox churches, renovated with tremendous skill, planed, profiled and sanded using 21st-century production techniques, the Herringbone Relik collection is a work of art.

What sets you apart as a company?
The basic ideology of the company sets us apart. With over 4 decades of expertise in hardwood, we focus on pre-finished engineered timber for flooring and cladding. Havwoods has probably one of the world’s largest ranges of shades in real wood flooring.

We have a vast variety of products that are innovative and result of a lot of research and ideating. It is our constant endeavour to provide buyers with new products based on the ongoing trends as also create new trends ourselves. The products that we have in the Mumbai showroom are real wood with international quality and cater to a variety of designs, decors and budgets. 

Our clients all over the world take us a notch higher too. Brands like Harley Davidson, Paul Smith, M&S, BMW,etc. make us proud.

What potential do you see in your business when placed in the Indian market?
The wood flooring industry is still in its nascent stage in the Indian market with tremendous potential ahead. The availability of a flooring option other than the conventional tiles and marble has encouraged people to opt for it. Wood flooring is now considered a status symbol. With growing international travel and the pressure of following trends, an aspirational value is now being attached to wooden flooring. There aren’t many brands that have been able to provide engineered flooring with such a huge range of shades and keeping it economical at the same time. Havwoods comes with a benefit of being an expert, offering economical solutions, providing excellent quality and inspiring creativity having worked with leading designers and architects all over the world.

The shift in the customer mindset coupled with the Havwoods product offering is changing the market scenario. There are very exciting and promising times ahead for Havwoods in India. 

Do you think franchising is a viable model for expansion?
Of course. India is a vast and varied market. Each state has its own typical design sensibilities. It is therefore important to develop a keen customer insight and apply them in business. That is why it helps to be present pan India through franchisees. We have already started through franchising in Ahemdabad and Pune and are looking at expanding.

What challenges have you been overcoming and what are the lessons learnt?
The first big challenge was creating awareness first about wooden flooring and then about the

Brand – that took double efforts. Also with this product being fairly new for the Indian market, even designers and architects had to be coached in technical knowledge and knowhow.

Then followed sharing ofinstallation and maintenance techniques. It was a time consuming process but well worth it as we now have a loyal customer base, excited designers who want to work with us and a trained workforce for installation and servicing.

The wooden flooring industry in India is not very organized. Where do you find the gap? How are you planning to fill it up?
There are more than 300 wood flooring importers in India which makes it highly unorganised. Big international brands barring a couple are not consistent in their approach. This is where Havwoods will play an important role. With our expertise in the world markets, a huge product portfolio and superior quality, we are ready to cater to each and every design idea our customers might have. We have a lot to offer.

How will you educate the Indian consumer to consider wooden flooring as a classy new option?
Some of our work has already been done. With growing global influences, international travel, foreign films and advertising Indians are already aware of and aspiring for wooden flooring. We are also meeting a lot of designers andsharing with them technical aspects and the different options available to them in terms of grading, textures, construction, widths, dimensions, species, patterns and installation options. It is going good. Touch wood!

Aashish Poojari