The soft flooring segment is gaining currency in the flooring market, on the back of growing number of discerning users. “This genre of flooring enables users to make personalised style statements,” states Pankaj Talreja, country manger of Belgotex India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of its South African softwood parent Belgotex Floorcoverings Pty Ltd. Belgotex launched its operations in India in 2015, and has set out to build a network of channel partners and influencers. In an interview with SH, Talreja talks about the company’s legacy and its India plans…
By Mrinmoy Bhattacharjee
What’s your estimate about the size of the domestic soft flooring market? What market share are you eying, and by when?
As it’s a new market for us, we have decided to take a step-by-step approach to make our way as well as to keep learning from this exciting region. Our primary focus – the commercial segment (office space) – is to the tune of 3.5 to 4 million sqm in terms of coverable surface and Rs 300-400 crore in value. We haven’t given a number to the targeted market share; however as a principle we will strive to achieve significant share in coming years with our high quality products and high level of customer services and support. We would like to be recognised as a preferred solution provider of soft flooring in the country.
What are the growth drivers in this category?
As one of the fastest growing economies, India is witnessing substantial infrastructural growth wherein office space and hospitality are two prime areas. We have a large range capable of catering to the flooring needs in these segments.
How deeply are you invested in India?
As a serious player, our first step towards investing in this new market was to incorporate our own subsidiary rather than choosing other temporary arrangements. We have accordingly invested in setting up our office, hiring highly skilled staff and other operational investments.
The company talks of ‘legacy of innovation’. What does this mean?
We have successfully pursued an approach of continuous innovation, through our network of business entities and through continuous investment in technology. This helps Belgotex International stay in touch with global influences in design trends, fashion, etc, which is key to our success in highly competitive markets. For example, our manufacturing plant in South Africa has produced a highly successful needle punch product that has been around for close to 30 years. It remains the number-one choice of professionals in that market, and its features are high performance and cost effectiveness in production.
How are you helping your users comply with sustainability challenges and green requirements?
Our company reflects a deep, ingrained commitment to sustainability through its product design, procurement, resource efficiency, and cleaner production strategies. Belgotex flooring products meet and exceed the requirements for specification and installation in sustainable projects. In addition, our certified products are eligible to earn 100% of the available credit points across all relevant green building rating tools such as LEED, BREEAM, Green Star, etc. Our certified floors have published ISO-14025 compliant environmental product declarations (EPD) which are third party-verified.
What’s your branding strategy?
We believe that brand awareness is an integral part of business, especially considering the B2B model that we are in. We have just finished with our first official brand and product launch in Bengaluru with about 350 invitees. We also displayed our products in a couple of product conferences and will continue to participate in important ones in future.
How many channel partners have you appointed?
We have appointed two major dealers in the two most important regions in India. In south, our company has presence in Bengaluru that has a catchment area of important cities such as Hyderabad, Chennai, Kochi, etc. In north, we have presence in Delhi-NCR that has a catchment of the entire region spanning NCR, Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, etc. We also have an experienced person based in western India. He is based in Mumbai to cover Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, etc.
How’re you supporting your channel partners?
Our business development managers are working very closely with channels partners to grow the business together. We are supporting them with highly subsidised prices on our products to set up show areas in their offices, etc. Also we brought our channel partners to our factory premises in South Africa and France to introduce them to our brand, manufacturing facilities and future plans.
What products have you launched this year? What’s the plan for future?
To cater to our primary market that is the commercial segment, we have launched nylon and polypropylene wall-to-wall carpets, carpet tiles and planks, vinyl planks and vinyl sheet coverings, and a variety of artificial grass for various applications including landscaping, sports fields, etc. For the future we may look into launching our ranges for residential applications. However, no timelines have been decided.
What revenues are you eyeing in this fiscal?
As it’s a new market, it will be a learning curve for us too. We need to experience as to how this market reacts to our product ranges, services, etc before we determine any numbers on revenue. Our primary focus is to achieve a breakeven within two to three years.