Wurfel Kuche co-founder Khanindra Barman shares insights about the kitchen business in India, and explains why the brand is on a strong footing.
On average one Wurfel Studio opened each month in some Indian city during 2022. Six more franchise outlets are in the pipeline, likely to open their doors to customers within the next two months, making for a total of 46. Wurfel saw a 50 per cent growth in revenues in the previous financial year.
“The kitchen business is in trend. It is a good investment avenue and is likely to remain so for a long time. The industry has been growing at a 27 per cent CAGR, doubling every three years. Considering that nearly 80 per cent of the market is still serviced by carpenters, I remain optimistic about the business. Besides, the markets of tier 2 and 3 cities are yet to open up to factory-made kitchens,” says Wurfel co-founder and director Khanindra Barman. Barman founded the company along with Pankaj Bhatia, Naveen NJ and Yathis NJ.
According to Barman, a lot more needs to be done by the industry to make consumers see the merit of factory-made furniture. “We need to specialise more, instead of doing everything ourselves. For instance, kitchen companies should utilise the services of installation specialists so that the measurement and post-sales aspects of the business can be improved. I also hope to see the emergence of the kitchen designer profession. This will help streamline the challenges that are faced at the civil work stage. The kitchen professional will also ensure that kitchens are designed with due consideration to ergonomics, hygiene, and resource conservation.”
Wurfel kitchens, says Barman, are positioned in a niche segment which falls between the premium and imported categories. “Our average ticket size is Rs 12 lakh, and we are addressing the demand for unique and exquisitely designed kitchens. We only use products that are sourced from FSC-certified forests. Since such a certification is not available for Indian panel products, we import all our raw materials.”
Barman asserts that there is a growing awareness of healthy living amongst Indian consumers. “We have seen that not just the architects and designers, but even the customers are concerned about the sustainability quotient of the products that are installed in their homes. Panels are the key raw material in a kitchen. They must be sourced from responsibly managed forests and emit only the permissible levels of VOCs. At Wurfel sustainability is our credo.”
Speaking of trends in the way kitchens are used, Barman observes that built-in appliances are emerging as a big component of the total investment. “Indians are moving towards healthy cooking. There is a growing preference for grilled, steamed, and baked food. As a result, the oven is becoming a preferred appliance. Another appliance that is in demand is the dishwasher. That’s probably due to the busy lifestyle of homeowners and concern for hygiene. I believe that the share of appliances in the kitchen is rising steadily, it is already in the range of 25-30 per cent.”
Kitchens is a business where customers make several visits to the retail point before finalising their order. Customer experience, therefore, is the most important aspect of this trade. “The kitchen is a big investment for the customer. It is also the show-off piece in the house. Therefore, the kitchen outlet should be able to assure and inspire. The Wurfel studio has an aspirational ambience, it exudes exclusivity and brand value. When the customer steps in, she is met with personnel who are highly competent in design and luxury selling. The studio is backed by our centralised design team, which ensures that the outlet follows the corporate guidelines regarding display, design and service levels. Further, we back our operations with design-to-manufacture software, automated track and trace of boxes and panels, CRM for lead management, and strong marketing.”
Barman says that Wurfel is an Indian enterprise that is challenging international brands. “All our components such as prelaminated panels and hardware are imported. We are very selective about the designs of the laminates. We are using state-of-the-art machines at our factory. And we have a highly motivated team that works with a non-compromising attitude. I believe that we are on track and have the ambition to emerge as an international brand in the kitchen industry.”
Khanindra Barman will be speaking at the India Kitchen Congress on April 6.