Polymer specialist REHAU Polymers Pvt Ltd has been adding heft to the Indian uPVC fenestration sector through investment and innovation over the past decade and a half. Sourcing Hardware caught up with Ajay Khurana, the company’s chairman for South Asia, to get insights into how the fenestration industry is doing and REHAU’s modus operandi.
By Gyanendra Kumar Kashyap
“Continuous innovation is a way of life at REHAU,” says Khurana, as he explains that as a matter of policy, the company focuses on zero faults and reward schemes to foster a culture that promotes innovation. A multi-skilled team ‘UnlimitedX’ not only offers training, but also lays emphasis on the need to adapt to as well as adopt from local markets. “This has been the key to REHAU’s global success. Our global teams visit the India office to learn how we have changed the existing business model of catering only to OEMs and how we’ve been successful in working with channel partners in India,” shares Khurana, who has been at the helm of affairs at REHAU India for over 15 years now.
“Everything at REHAU is dynamic, nothing is static,” he exclaims, as he shares that the aim is to be ‘a pioneer in the floor-to-ceiling space’. Though excited about GST, he cautions about short-term disruptions and feels that given the implementation challenges, the real benefits will take some time to show up. “We have seven warehouses across the country, and the first thing that comes to my mind is that post GST the movement of goods will become easier,” remarks Khurana as he shares his insights about industry dynamics, skill development, India specific offerings, etc.
A few players in the uPVC segment
have opted for big bang marketing; however, in due course they have lost market share to Chinese and Turkish products and brands. We on the other hand are a long term player and have already set up two manufacturing facilities in Pune. In fact, we are the first European company to have set up a local manufacturing base. REHAU’s third Indian manufacturing unit will come up in Gujarat, and will be operational by November this year.
In terms of size, the overall windows and door market in India will be around `40,000 crore, and uPVC would account for a 5-6% share. The uPVC windows are energy-efficient, and noise and weather proof. Though their cost is higher than of the aluminium ones, their acceptability is gradually increasing. And despite being a new concept in India, their market share has gone up vis-à-vis aluminium, which continues to dominate. Organised players, including REHAU, have been focusing on delivering high quality products and spreading awareness about tangible and intangible benefits of uPVC in order to compete and to sustain this industry. However, we need to be mindful of players who supply cheap, inferior products that do not comply with internationally prescribed standards.
As for growth, the market has been expanding majorly due to rising awareness amongst builders and consumers, rapid urbanisation, growth in the residential realty sector, and increased adoption of eco-friendly and energy-conserving products. In fact, the residential sector accounts for the lion’s share of the uPVC fenestration market in India in terms of revenues.
REHAU India has been growing at 20% CAGR for the last couple of years. In 2017-18, we will grow by 28% owing to our successful participation in the Kolkata Metro Corporation project, for which we will be supplying its ‘third rail’ system.
Lack of standardisation, and low awareness about energy conservation and quality parameters amongst consumers has allowed the unorganised sector to flourish. Moreover, Indian consumers are price sensitive and they readily opt for low-priced inferior-quality products to lower their overall investment.
However, over the last three-four years the situation has improved; but for gaining the required momentum mindsets have to change. For instance, in every purchase, especially for large projects, the purchase decision should be made by a group of people including the developer, influencer, consultant and purchase personnel, whereas a single person is taking the decision today. As a result there’s no proper discussion about performance, about what a window system can potentially do for the building, etc. The industry should get together and ensure that buying decisions are more informed. This has started to happen in a small way, and I am optimistic that we will soon see the change.
REHAU is contributing significantly to create awareness about uPVC fenestration. We have an intensive programme for sharing latest information about global developments and new innovations, with all stakeholders as well as with our own team members. Apart from that we are doing a lot of workshops, organising architect meets both in-house and at architects’ place, and actively participating in exhibitions such as Delhiwood, Indiawood, IGBC, Fensterbau, etc.
The experience centre at REHAU Delhi office – of windows, geo-thermal, under-floor cooling, etc – is providing specifiers and other visitors a rich experience in emerging building technology. The intent is to change the way windows and doors are bought in India.
We strongly believe that the industry should invest in showrooms and experience/application centres to deliver hands-on experience for the consumers, as this will help them make better choices and faster purchase decisions. It will also help the architects and interior designers enhance their creative and technical palette.
We have six-monthly training programmes for our fabricators. When they join us, they are taught all the intricacies of fabrication and then the installation of the windows, both off-site and on-site. We are careful while selecting the people we want to work with, as we spend a lot on their learning and development. We seek like-minded people because we believe that with the right people in place, half the job is done. Besides we also support them in setting up their fabrication units, and auditing them, wherein we advise them about equipment they should invest in. We have developed 35 exclusive fabricators for window systems across the country. They are our extended arms and their development is an ongoing process.
Project vs Retail
The main chunk of our sales comes from residential projects. However, increasing awareness amongst home owners is also pushing demand at the retail level. In fact, individuals have gradually started shifting to energy-efficient solutions. Though we have done a few residential projects in north India, we find that as of now customers in the south are more open to new products and technologies.
Globally our model is to work with OEMs; in India we have dealers and OEM customers in equal number. Besides, we have 200 dealers for our furniture products, two dealers for window systems, and 35 window fabricators. We aim to add 15 dealers in the window segment this year.
REHAU has emerged as one of the top innovators in the market. For the kitchen segment this year we have introduced RAUVISIO solid surfaces, 2.00mm crystal wave laminates for shutters, and crystal mirrors for wall panels; RAUVOLET crystal line roller shutters; and rigid profiles. We have recently joined hands with Henkel as its sole distributor for India, to distribute a range of glues along with RAUKANTEX edge bands. The intention behind this association is to bring the unique capabilities of both companies to the furniture industry. We will develop products and processes that offer greater benefit in terms of cost, performance and environmental compatibility than the standard processes currently in use.