Like Rome was not built in a day, so wasn't HSIL that has become a name to reckon with its quality sanitary ware. Santosh Nema, President, Business and Market Operations discusses how has the journey been so far and their future plans.
Aadeetya Sriram (AS): Tell us about your company, your growth story and your product category?
Santosh Nema (SN): HSIL is a 50 year old company. Infact this year we are celebrating our golden jubilee. We started the business with manufacturing sanitary ware in 1960. The last few years, we decided that we should become a total bathroom solution provider, and about 5 years back, we added faucets to our product range and last year we added tiles to our product range. At present, we are one of the prominent bathroom-solution providers, with ceramic sanitary wear, faucets and tiles.
AS: What sort of customers are you catering to?
SN: Hindware is a premium brand. The entire spectrum of our products caters to masses as well as the high-end customers. We have our ceramic product costing from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1.5 lakh. We are catering to the entire cross-section of consumers.
AS: How many stores do you have? Where are they located? How much area do they cover?
SN: Today, we are distributing our products through 1400 distributors spread across the country, and there are about 12,000 retailers, who are dealing in our products. The positioning of the store is pan India, infact any town above the population of 50,000, you’ll find a Hindware product either directly through a distributor, or retailers. We do not own these stores, we supply them with our products, these stores to belong the respective dealers and suppliers, and we promote our products through brand-building activities.
AS: What sort of trend is visible to you in the market currently?
SN: The modern-day customers are moving up the value chain, they have an understanding for aesthetics and design, which they prefer in their products, earlier the priority was for the functional products, even now that requirement is there, but the need for design element, is apparent. The need for improved quality has resulted in their willingness to shell out more, to satisfy their needs. Bathroom, has never been recognized as a decent part of the homes in the country, but now there has been a mind-shift and people feel the need to flaunt their designer-centric bathroom products influenced by the westerner culture.
AS: What has been your pivotal business (marketing and promotion) strategy over the years?
SN: This company has always believed that brands get the customers, so we have invested heavily in building our brand, over the years. We have been present, consistently in all possible media whether it’s the press, T.V, hoarding, this has made our presence visible across the country. We also build on the distribution reach, as if the products are not available, that will directly impact our sales outcome, because of this we have a large-network of 12,000 retailers, and so practically in every town you can find our products. We will strengthen our set-up with strategizing our stores in a way, that customers can reach our retailers within 2km of their vicinity to buy our products. We give due consideration to the quality of our products, after selling the product, the price is forgotten, but the quality is something kept in check. We are very stringent about our quality standards, and continue to invest in plant and machinery, for improving our quality standards.
AS: What all other verticals are you concentrating in the Indian market?
SN: We have two business units, one is the building products division, and the other one is the container glass division, which makes bottles for soft-drink, liquor industry and the pharmaceutical industry. Both the divisions are approximately of the similar size.
AS: What was the reason behind rebranding Crabtree into Benelave, is it a tactical strategy on your part?
SN: Crabtree belongs to Havells, from whom we had acquired chrome-plated faucets division. So we had a limited license to use this brand. We wanted to build another brand that will be as powerful as Hindware, which we could undertake with Crabtree, which was someone others brand. So we have renamed Crabtree as Benelave, we will build this brand, investing heavily in this brand, and we plan to induct many other products under Benelave. So the choice was strategized by our desire to create a big brand.
AS: How has the year ’10-’11 been for HSIL? What growth have you attained compared to last year?
SN: Last year our turnover was in excess of Rs. 800 cr. This year we hope to have a significant growth over last year, which we believe to be around 37% compared to last year.
AS: What is your R&D like? How much you spend on R&D’ng of your products?
SN: We invest a lot in quality, as we are into the designer-product category. You need to continuously bring in innovative designs, keep yourself updated to the current trends, hence R&D is not the sole criteria for our investment, and product designing is also a major aspect of our planning. We have a team of designers, from NID, who are working with us, providing us with fundamental designing for our products. We are also working with some designers from Europe, who work with us on assignment-basis.
AS: What are your expansion plans?
SN: We aspire to go global, our quality standards are amongst the best in the world, and our designing is truly world-class. We hope to enhance our export network within the next 5 years to a substantial rise. We have acquired this faucets plant in Bhiwadi from Havells; we plan to double-up its capacity, we have also bought over a land in Bhiwadi, were we will be setting up our own fossits plan, which will be up-and-running by 2035, with a production capacity of about, 2 million units per annum. We our expanding our production capacity in our B.B Nagar plant. Within 3 years time, our sanitary production will be 5 million units and our faucets production will be 2 million units annually.