The outlook for the Indian modular kitchen industry is upbeat. With changing lifestyles, modular kitchens are no longer seen as a commodity; instead, they are a necessity. Now modular kitchens are a standard fixture in apartments. Further, with the pace of residential realty picking up and with the focus on affordable housing, opportunities are only increasing for the industry.
I believe it’s an excellent time to enter the kitchen business; it’s a growing industry with CAGR of around 30%. Organised retail is gradually picking up, and more and more people now prefer to buy from well-appointed showrooms. We are well past the era when Indian customers were known to be price sensitive; on the contrary, they have become more brand conscious now.
Before entering the kitchen space in May 2008, I worked with Safepack, a speciality packaging company, for over 12 years serving across business functions. My job profile allowed me to travel to many European countries, mainly Germany, to build international markets. Post my stint with Safepack I partnered with Tarachand Ramnath who were primarily into trading, besides having a small set up for kitchen interiors, which was a value-added business for them. They offered wire baskets, kitchen trolleys, fabrication, etc., and this accounted for less than 20% of their business. I was for a complete overhaul of the kitchen business, and that’s how Meine Kuche came into being. Today we offer premium solutions and have served close to 6,000 customers. The number of customers who are the proud owners of Meine Kuche kitchens is only increasing by the day.
To begin with, we had three stores in Pune. But soon we realised that in a city like Pune it would make better sense to have a single store at a premium location. Today, we have one big store spread across 5,000 sft displaying ten kitchens and six wardrobes. Post-2020, we plan to go beyond Pune and replicate our current model at other locations. We offer a bespoke collection beginning at Rs 5 lakh and going up to Rs 40 lakh. We also market the Pedini range of kitchens from Italy, which starts at Rs 25 lakh, as well as the Aldotre collection of kitchens, which starts from Rs 10 lakh. We have a solution for each market segment.
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An entrepreneur eyeing the kitchen space must look at the maturity of the market that he is planning to operate in, besides the acceptance of the product range that he will offer. The entrepreneur must have a solution-oriented approach when he meets his customer. Besides, he must choose the business partner carefully, because this is a service industry where the support of the brand owner is critical. Aesthetics, along with functionality, are essential in this business category, and the entrepreneur must learn the art of catering to the sensibilities of the customer, besides offering value-added services to differentiate the business.
Whether to align with a brand or to create one’s brand must be decided by the entrepreneur keeping in mind the business objectives. New entrants tend to align with an existing brand, and it’s a good strategy. Learn the tricks of the trade, get trained on technicalities, and then look to start something of your own. However, for the long haul, it’s always good to build your brand. In either case, it’s a win-win situation.
The author, Deepak Bharadia, is the founder & managing director, Meine Küche India