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“It’s Time to Step Up”

Haryana-based hardware manufacturer Suzu Steel (INDIA) is working on a game plan to emerge as a leading national hardware brand

Suzu Steel(INDIA)new corporate office at Crown Heights in Rithala, about 72 km from its home base in Rohtak, is enthused with energy. Large product cutouts, meeting areas, and smart workstations in the midst of vertical indoor gardens reflect a newfound dynamism. But the CEO of the company, Vijay Kumar Dutta, is dismissive. “We are not new to the industry, it’s just that we had been maintaining a low profile.” Suzu has been in the hardware business since 1986, manufacturing SS hinges, screws, and door and furniture fittings. It was the first company to introduce SS hinges in India.  “We have been producing over 100 types of hinges and more than 200 types of screws as well as all other products at our eight units in Rohtak. Now our management has decided to come out of the cocoon and broaden the product portfolio. Also, we have decided to become aggressive in the market.”

But actually, Dutta has developed a blueprint to help Suzu realise the vision that its promoter Animesh Bansal and Sachin Bansal has set – to be among the top five hardware brands in volume terms by 2021. According to Dutta, Animesh Bansal and Sachin Bansal is willing to put in the investment required for capability and capacity building, venturing into new segments, expanding retail networks and entering new overseas markets. “There is no financial constraint.”

To begin with, Suzu Steel is launching SS padlocks with stainless steel shackle. “It will be the first of its kind in the Indian market,” remarks Dutta, explaining that the general practice is to have shackles of hardened iron whereas SS shackles are stronger and longer lasting. “We have also launched multi-purpose locks, godown locks, shutter locks, furniture locks, and door closers. Suzu is not going to limit itself; we are working on diversification and by the end of this fiscal we will foray into digital locks and digital security systems.” Another segment being considered is kitchen accessories and wire baskets.

Till date the company has been catering to scattered markets in India. But now, as it charts a path to increase its base, Suzu will focus on newer markets. Besides having a strong presence in east and north India, it is present in a few pockets in west and south too. The goal for the next one year or so will be to strengthen the retail base in these regions. Central India too will be a focus region.

“Over the last couple of months, we have been engaging with potential business partners, distributors in particular, for the west and south zone as well as central zone. We have shortlisted a number of promising and enterprising parties.” At present Suzu has close to 100 distributors who cater to thousands of sale points across India. The aim is to triple the distributor count by 2020 and also see a proportionate increase in number of sale points. The company is not averse to the idea of exclusive stores. “We are exploring the possibilities of retail expansion via the franchisee model. The stores, strategically located, will have on display our entire product range, they will have well-trained sales people, and will serve as a reference point for architects, etc.” We also wish to have “Display on wheels” projects in next future.

Suzu offers its dealers trade margins of 40-45% depending upon product category. “We believe in forging a long-term business relationship with our channel partners, one that is based on mutual trust. As and when required we handhold our partners and this has been our practice since inception.”

As for new business segments, Suzu has created a separate division to cater to builders. “With RERA in place, we feel the ease of doing business with realty players has become a reality. Real estate is set to witness tremendous growth. The government’s Housing for All by 2022 initiative is expected to have a catalytic effect and all this bodes well for the building products industry. We, being in business of providing quality hardware for over three decades, cannot afford to miss the bus,” Dutta reasons.

“We are also looking beyond the domestic market. Suzu already exports its products to two neighbouring nations – Nepal and Bangladesh. We have been exporting to these countries for the last two years and very soon we will begin exporting to the Gulf region.” Dutta adds that in the next one year Suzu will take its products to the European/ African market, and thereafter to Latin American markets.

A branding and promotion plan is also in place and the company is relying on a mix of media vehicles. A jingle has been produced, to be played on FM channels during Navratras in order to create brand awareness among consumers. A print campaign has been launched in leading trade media, with the objective of attracting new channel partners and supporting the distributors. Social media branding will start soon for targeting niche markets and customer categories and sharing product information.

Dutta states that while current turnover to be doubled in next two years time by FY19-20 inclusive of exports.

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