Anil Sawhney, business head at EI DuPont India Pvt Ltd, believes that Covid-19 pandemic has brought a moment of reflection for people, forcing them to relook their interior design. He also shares his views on the state of the realty and construction sector, and how his company is placed in the landscape. From an exclusive interview with Sourcing Hardware.
How has Covid-19 pandemic impacted your business?
Covid-19 has impacted majority of the businesses in the country and worldwide. Due to the lockdown, economic activity came to a standstill,thereby affecting infrastructure and real estate sectors. This resulted in a sudden drop in demand for construction and building materials for over 60 days. The situation has impacted our revenues for the current quarter (April-June) and will also impact the rest of 2020. We all are aware that these are unprecedented times, so at this moment DuPont’s top priority is health and safety of its employees. During this time we continue to focuson our end marketsby stay closeto our customers.
What is your outlook for the real estate & construction sector? When and how do you think it will bounce back? What short and medium-term challenges is this sector likely to face?
Post easing of lockdown, the real estate & construction sector will continue to see a lot of challenges for several months, as majority of the labour force has migrated to hometowns or is stuck at various locations. Besides, the pandemic has hit raw material (construction and building materials) availability, owing to factory shutdowns and logistics disruptions.
While the production of construction and building materials will gradually resume in the coming weeks, and has a high chance of going up to 70% capacity by the end of 2020, we expect that challenges will continue in the availability of workforce.
In the short and mediumterms, the main challenges for this sector would be around price variation, cash flow and labour force availability, which will result in delays of projects and accelerated negative sentiment of the consumers.
What trends do you expect as a result of coronavirus in the home interiors space?
My first thought was that nobody was used to living at home 24 hours daily. So yes, this is the beginning of a change. Hopefully, this time is not going to last forever, but it will have a long-term impact on our psychology. I guess people will finally understand the importance of good interior design. Designing our homes is not just about making pretty and aesthetically attractive stuff. It is a matter of quality of life and bringing wellness into our homes. I am sure that post-Covid-19, people will not only consider aesthetic values but also pay attention to the hygiene factor, and I feel that would change the design dynamic in home interior space.
What about the hospitality sector, what is the outlook there?
Hospitality segment is likely to have a major impact going forward, with corporates and individuals strictly adhering to the ‘travel only in emergency’ policy. With such scenarios, decisions on investments for creating additional hotel infrastructure are unlikely to happen immediately. This particular sector would be highly dependent on Covid-19 vaccine discovery, which is not expected to happen soon. But once we have a vaccine in place, then this sector would start doing well again as there will be a great sense of protection amongst people, which will encourage them to start travelling and planning holidays.
What role can a building materials leader like DuPont play to revive the economy? How can finishing of interiors be fast-tracked and made sustainable going forward?
At Dupont Corian Design, we intend to pick-up speed as soon as marketsopen upfully,to play our part in reviving the economy. We are committed to providing on-time material delivery along with execution expertise for accelerating ongoing and new projects, which would surely give a push to the economy. We would also focus on restarting our channel partners’ operations and workshops as quickly as possible to ensure the retention of manpower in their organisations.
Though we expect a huge negative impact on construction industry due to the pandemic, at the same time we also believe it would create new opportunities. We expect sectors like healthcare infrastructure to grow faster, and we would like to be partners in the journey with these sectors by providing the right products and solutions.