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Quick-Step to Expand Network, Appoint Partners in B & C Cities

Laminate wooden flooring major Quick-Step is looking at smaller cities for business growth. The company, which markets its products under the Quick-Step brand, will enter more B and C cities to take its India turnover to Rs100 crore by 2022. Quick-Step offers flooring solutions in the wooden laminate, engineered wood, and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) categories.

Speaking exclusively to Sourcing Hardware, Unilin’s regional sales director-India & SAARC Jitesh Kumar (jitesh.kumar@unilin.com) said that given the saturation in metro markets with respect to home improvement, aggressive organisations needed to seek growth in new and undeveloped markets.

“Flooring is now a price-dominated market in the metros, with not much of a differentiation. We see a more evolved engagement in the non-metro cities, where home improvement is a growing trend, and laminate wooden flooring is a relatively new category. We aim to enter this market on the back of our technical superiority and long term quality assurances that we are able to provide our customers.”

According to Kumar, Belgium-based Unilin, which is the parent company of the Indian operations, is among the largest laminate wooden flooring suppliers in the world. “In India, we are the only global player to be present as a fully- owned subsidiary. This allows us to be deeply invested in this market. We are in the process of developing this vast market through knowledge sharing and skill development.”

Unilin does not yet have its warehouses in India and operates through nine master distributors. The master distributors further appoint sub-distributors and dealers and support the network with inventory, marketing and warranty back-up. The products are shipped from the company’s manufacturing facilities in Belgium and Malaysia.

Kumar informs that while residential has been the mainstay of the wooden flooring market in India over the years, Unilin has been making inroads into non-residential segments such as hospitality, office and retail.“We have been developing the non-residential segment through engagement with the influencers and decision-makers. In particular, our engineered wood solutions are very successful in these applications, and we have been observing a near 70% growth in this product category.”

The Quick-Step network is being strengthened further. “Our retail channel is spread across the north to south, and west to east through 125 partners. We are present in all the A cities and many B cities, with a presence in retail and project markets.We intend to expand in another 10 B cities and 20 C cities, and by the end of 2020 we should have more than 150 retail partners.” Kumar states that sub-distributors are required to invest Rs25 lakh to a crore in inventory (1-4 containers) depending on the region, and are supported with secondary sales analysis to avoid dead stock.

“For lead generation, our team keeps meeting architects and interior designers on a regular basis. We have also developed a skilled technical team to provide support in the pre-sale and after-sale stages of the business. We recommend that they hold stocks worth four-month sales, which will enable them to earn ROI of 19-25%.”

The Quick-Step Academy of Excellence in Flooring is another of Unilin’s tools to broaden the market and turn the discourse towards value and experience. Kumar informs that in the past select channel partners, and institutional customers have been trained at the academy in Belgium, but going forward localised training will be a part of the company’s Indian marketing plans.

“This year, we will be holding training sessions in India for master installers. Our trainers from Belgium and China shall hold workshops on the art and science of flooring. This will help us support our partners and customers with a growing cadre of skilled artisans, which is a great need of the hour in India.”

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