In an exclusive interaction with Sourcing Hardware, Marshalls director Karan Sharma commented, “The Indian wallpaper industry is largely unorganised and it is only very recently that we are seeing the entry of organised players. In terms of size, it would be a Rs 250-300 crore industry. We have been the leader in the market for a long time. We started in 1975 and have been growing steadily and have reached a turnover of about Rs 40-50 crore.”
On the new collection launched, Sharma said, “One year ago we had launched our digital wallpaper collection – the Krishna Mehta collection. We also launched the Chhota Bheem and Football Club Barcelona collections. The advantage of digital wallpaper is that the design is customisable as per the size of the wall. Now, we also provide customised wallpaper wherein photographs send by the customers can be printed; the customer has the option of sending in the design also.” Marshalls launches 20-30 new collections every year. “Metallic wallpapers are in demand nowadays, and textured wallpapers made of jute and bamboo are also moving fast.”
Sharma added that the company has been maintaining a careful balance of price and quality in order to address the market. “Generally, below `200 per sft wallpapers are made with vinyl. As you go up the ladder in price, those are special wallpapers made with finer materials including silk, bamboo, jute and other natural products.”
On the sourcing of the wallpaper, he informed, “No one manufactures vinyl wallpaper in India and everything is imported. “90% of our imports come from Europe and the US. We have exclusive rights from manufacturers to sell their wallpapers in India. However, the digital wallpapers are made in India. We have a plant in Mumbai. We produce the digital wallpapers after the order is placed, we don’t keep stocks, and we have a lead time of about three days.”
Elaborating on the distribution network, Sharma said, “We are present in 21 cities across India. We have around 45 showrooms, which are a mix of company-owned and franchise outlets. Ten of these are company-owned and are located in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru. In Mumbai we have two flagship showrooms which are spread across about 10,000 sft. Besides the showrooms, we also have 300-plus dealers across the country.”
Marshalls continues to sign up dealers on a regular basis and is also on the lookout for franchisees. “For us it’s more about the profile of the franchisee rather than the location. We are interested in franchisees who can provide a corporate look and feel, are in the age group of 25-45, and possess a sound financial background. We look for younger people since it’s a modern industry and a lot of the work is done through software. So, they have to be tech-savvy.”
According to Sharma, Marshalls has also built a comprehensive online presence through its portal and mobile app. “Digital presence increases visibility and also acts like a support system to the offline network. For example, a lot of our offline sales happen because of our online presence. Customers shortlist the designs and then come to the store to explore those options. Not everybody wants to buy wallpapers just looking at the computer, and instead want to see the samples before buying.”
The Marshalls website www.marshallswallcoverings.com provides various tools and filter options (colour, price range) to help the customer in selection. It also hosts videos that help bust myths about longevity and effectiveness of wallpaper, while Sharma’s well written blog further engages visitors and endears them to the brand.
“Shortlisting becomes faster and easier that way. In terms of pricing, we have standardised it across channels and don’t offer special pricing for online sales.”
On the potential of the e-commerce route, he opined, “We have just started to sell online around six months ago, so about 99.5% of our sales is through traditional channels only. Even the purpose of our portal is not merely selling, but educating customers about the advantages of wallpapers and helping them to make their decision. Depending upon the size of the order and whether the customer wants to have a look before final purchase, we sell directly or route the sale through dealers.” He added that digital presence helps in increasing visibility and generating leads. The company also participates in local exhibitions besides advertising through print.
On the level of acceptability and potential of the domestic wallpaper industry, Sharma shared, “In terms of market share, wallpaper would be about 2-3% of the decorative paint industry in India. In the past due to low quality, wallpaper got a bad name and it will take some time before people make them a first preference. But in tier-I cities, people are becoming more and more accustomed to the idea of trying out wallpaper; if not in the entire house, at least in some portions. Globally, wallpaper is a very well accepted alternative. For example, Europe is a 70% wallpaper market, while Japan and Korea are 99% wallpaper markets. In China, wallpaper has a market share of about 35%. If the Indian market can be assumed as lagging China by 10-15 years, there lies great potential ahead.”