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‘To be the Most Preferred Brand in the Affordable Segment’

When the government declared its focus on affordable housing in 2017, Watertec (India) Pvt Ltd was poised at the proverbial right place at the right time. The Coimbatore-based Rs 250-crore plastic tap and bath accessories maker had already diversified into cPVC pipes and fittings in 2016. By virtue of its ‘value for money’ positioning, it is expecting to reap benefits of the government’s initiatives.

Sourcing Hardware caught up with the company’s CEO Bantwal Ramesh Baliga to find out what Watertec would be doing to reach its turnover target of Rs 450 crore by 2019. Baliga didn’t disappoint as he shared his game plan for 2018…

By Gyanendra Kumar Kashyap

To Do List
Watertec’s focus this year would be to build a strategic policy for pipe and fittings, wherein we grow at steady pace in line with market requirements. We have set up new dealer networks, and have introduced new products to complete the range in pipe and fittings. In 2018 we will be focusing on launching of pressure pipes, column pipes and underground drainage systems. We have expanded our production units (when, how many, what investment) and resultantly increased production capacity to cater to the markets (what’s the capacity). With the increase in our manufacturing prowess, we now have a larger capacity to service our dealers. However, quality will remain the prime differentiator to establish Watertec as a very important player in the industry. Our policy of ‘value for money’ is our strategy in present market conditions.

With regards to the bath fittings business, Watertec is aggressively establishing the brand pan-India. We have developed a two-pronged strategy; one for the Indian market and the other for rest of the world. We now have presence in overseas markets like SAARC, entire Middle East and Africa, besides having a company-owned warehouse in Sharjah which will cater to Middle East and African countries. With new products in place by January 2018, we would be covering the entire space in the affordable segment, and will be working to mark our presence in every town and city in the country, and simultaneously venture into other countries as well.

New Launches
We have developed certain new products which will be launched in 2018. The first innovative product is the hybrid high flow wall mixer in cPVC with metal handles. This is a first of its kind product. It will be of very high quality with super fine finish to ensure there’s no rusting, and no clogging since all the internal cartridges are made with German technology.

The second innovative product would be the hybrid single lever bath and shower mixer in cPVC and ABS plastic with metal. It is being tested and will be available in the coming months. The product is being launched keeping in mind the affordability segment and will have features and functions matching present metal products. We will also be launching bathroom fittings and accessories in polymer and metal.

To provide a solution for having dirt and dust-free water in residential piping systems, we are launching Watertec tank filter which will be an effective and easy-maintenance product.

Channel Network
We have a network of 12,000 dealers/distributors/sub-dealers/channel partners across the country for bath fittings, and we have about 1,700 dealers for our pipe and fittings business. Our channel partners have been loyal customers and associated with us for almost two decades. Over the years Watertec has built a strong market in the entire southern region, and for the past four years we have been quite strong in eastern and western markets as well.
We have started our operations in the north a couple of years ago, and have been able to register considerable presence in these markets. Our plan, to be present across the length and breadth of India including the remotest parts of the country, would be executed within next quarter. With new markets like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, entire Middle East and African countries in our expansion plan, we are now establishing ourselves as a truly global company.

Positioning
Watertec is a leader in the polymer segment of bath fittings, thanks to the continued focus on quality and innovation, and a strong customer preference for the brand. We are positioning our brand for the mid-segment, mid-low segment, and the rural/tier 2 and 3 towns. We have a strong presence in these markets which we will continue to strengthen, and will aggressively position Watertec as the most preferred brand. We have customers who have been using our products for many years and are extremely loyal. We will maintain this trust by bringing them more user-friendly and affordable products and helping them meet their aspirations.

For 2018 we have lined up a very aggressive plan in terms of advertising, marketing and promotional activities. In 2017 we conducted more than 1,000 plumber awareness programs and will increase this in 2018 by at least 200. We have planned extensively for television, print media and exhibitions in India and outside the country. In the past years we have undertaken lots of brand awareness initiatives at dealer counters using in-shop branding, print material, etc. This we will continue to do in 2018 with more fervour. Our annual spend on brand building for 2018 would be 3-4% of our turnover.

We have set up new dealer networks, and have introduced new products to complete the range in pipe and fittings. In 2018 we will be focusing on launching of pressure pipes, column pipes and underground drainage systems

R&D
Watertec has been known for its quality, and that is one aspect which differentiates us. As a company we invest a considerable amount on R&D, and are in the final phase of launching the most updated and advanced lab for developing and testing products in our own premises. We have already invested close to `8 crore in our three units and another Rs 7 crore would be spent by March 2018.

Growth Strategies
In the bath fittings and pipe and fittings businesses we have, till date, relied on the organic route for growth. A few strategies have been expanding production capacity, launching new products, extensive market expansion, marketing and promotional activities, and good sales policies for the channel partners.

We manufacture all the products in-house and are self-sufficient in bath fittings and pipes and fittings. Now we are looking at various options for sanitaryware, and this is where we are looking at the inorganic route for growth. This year our plan is to complete the sanitaryware product division.

Government Programmes
The government has taken a number of initiatives – Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities, Affordable Housing, etc. – while new regulations such as RERA and REIT have been put in place. Toilets today are being constructed in rural towns via CSR activity. The smart city project is just taking off. These initiatives have encouraged us to extensively widen our product base, and our competitive edge is that we provide a complete package to residential customers; we have products for behind the wall, in-between the wall and outside the wall.

A major focus of the government is to provide housing to all the people by 2022, which is compelling the real estate industry to shift towards affordable housing. And our products are just suited

for this market. ‘High quality products at affordable prices’ is our mantra to meet the customer’s aspiration. Also, we are seeing lots of improvement in our sales growth due to implementation of GST. We’ll close this financial year with a turnover of Rs 350 crore, and are expecting to touch `450 crore by the next fiscal. n ')}

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