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With people in India modernizing and the concept of kitchen evolving, Chimney was a much-needed product. Enter Elica which got into the market with the right product at the right time to strike a perfect balance at a point of time when the European market had saturated and a market like India was still virgin. “We basically tailor the international design to boost functionality. Elica PB manufactures usable and much needed products with the required feature to arrive at the perfect product and price combination. And it is a win-win situation for both the consumers and us,” asserts Pralhad Bhutada, CEO, Elica PB India Pvt Ltd…

What made you venture into electric chimney business way back in 1995?

It was mainly because the concept of modular kitchen started picking up in India. And indisputably anyone who wants to go for a modular kitchen will look at chimneys. To put it straight, the first sign of going modern is by upgrading your lifestyle and chimneys are one of those basic necessities of a modern living. India has a lot of potential when it comes to kitchen hoods as it was a new trend. Even now not even 1% of the population have chimneys, so one can very well imagine the immense scope the country has to offer to this industry. Also, the European market is saturated as chimneys are common when it comes to kitchen and has been there for years. But it is vice versa in our country. The potential is huge as it has only been 10 years that chimneys have entered the Indian market. For the next ten years, it is certainly going to be one of the fastest growing markets. It will soon be among top five countries in terms of revenue and contribution. This is a reason good enough to keep the entrepreneurs You brought the best in class.

Italian technology into the Indian households. How did it struck you and you went ahead with partnership?

With people in India westernizing and concept of kitchen evolving, I knew Chimneys was a muchneeded product. I got into the market with the right product at the right time and was able to strike a perfect balance at a point of time when the European market had saturated and a market like India was still virgin. Elica SpA brings high end design, technology and boasts of the best kitchen chimney in the world and through a partnership with them we could offer the same within our country. With people upgrading their lifestyle and going in for modular kitchen, my aim was to offer them superior technology but customizing it to Indian needs. We basically tailor the international design to boost functionality. We at Elica PB manufacture usable and much needed product with the required feature to arrive at the perfect product and price combination. And it is a win-win situation for both the consumers and us.

How was the scenario then and how has been the performance so far?

When the trend for chimneys hitting the market, it offered only the normal performance parameters. It did not have noise reduction features, had basic control features such as push button and normal lights. Now as the concept of kitchen is evolving, so are the chimneys and hoods in India and globally. Kitchen is no longer a closed space. People are going in for open kitchen, which is modular of course. They are looking out for added comfort. Besides, kitchen is also becoming a place to socialize. Kitchen space is no longer only the domain for women, both men and women are playing equal roles.

With kitchen assuming such an important spot in the house, nowadays we get to see kitchens, which are clean and linear and everything goes in the cabinet and today chimneys have taken a front seat. Market is divided into three categories basis the price point. First is low to mid that is the mass market. Second is mid to high that is the affordable high-end category. The mid to high range is the most sought-after category and the price bracket is Rs10000/- to Rs15000/-. Third is high end covering the premium segment. Elica PB India is the only brand to cover the entire spectrum. Furthermore, we are leading in all the segments too. Currently we are growing at 40% and have a turnover of 200 crore.

Kindly share with us the changing trends in this space?

When we talk of changing trends, there is a remarkable evolution in the shape, design, control features, lighting and over all aesthetics. The push control has been replaced by touch control; lights have changed to led lights and strip lights. With strip lights, you get to change the colour of the light depending on the ambience. As the market has moved forward, people are looking at chimneys beyond its basic utility. Silence technology, calvin control, high efficiency and more power are becoming the latest trend and market demand. It is a complete package that is designed to boost the level of comfort for its users. Even when you are not cooking, there are chimneys with almost no noise, which are at work purifying your kitchen air. They are armed with special sensors. So, this is how far technology has shot up today!

UP, CLOSE & PERSONAL

What’s success according to you? Business success is purely dependent upon how close you are to your business and understanding the complexities at every level. My major focus has been in understanding the product, the consumer requirements and maintaining the price product ratio. I have been able to ensure that the company delivers a world-class product at an affordable price. Leveraging the creativity of the organization and maintaining close relation with the channel partners has been clearly the biggest strength I have possessed. Keeping things simple and being fundamentally clear is the key. Taking timely decisions with the right logic without being much procedural is important to any business success.
A recent book you have read and has implemented its learnings into the business strategy…The recent book that I have read is ‘Playing To Win How Strategy Really Works’ by AG Lafley and Roger L Martin. This book takes into account the various strategic choices a manager is faced with in a highly competitive market place. One of the strategies that I apply in my daily working from this book is the low-cost strategy, basically cost leadership. In this competitive landscape, usually companies have to price their products almost similar to each other. However, firm with the lower costs can increase their profit margins and hence invest that extra margin into gaining a competitive advantage in other ways such as marketing or advertising.
What’s your leadership style? I am not a supporter of the conventional, bureaucratic culture rather, I am more result driven. I believe in infusing a work culture, which follows international corporate standards. Every employee at Elica PB has the independence to work with full creativity and can put forth their independent view point. I believe in a flat organization and not the hierarchy model. My role is that of a team player rather than a typical boss!
Your favourite destination & cuisine…London cuisine: Indian at Chutney Mary London

What are the latest technological interventions in this field?

Currently futuristic ‘intelligent home concept’ is trending globally. For the international market, Elica SpA (the best chimney maker of the world) has come up with ‘SNAP’, which is an electric exhaust system connected to the hood by the wiFi. It basically talks to the chimney. It senses when the air is not pure. It removes the impure air and freshens the air. Therefore, it maintains a balanced air quality in the kitchen. Basically, there are now intelligent chimneys and hobs. The electric cooking hob and chimneys are connected to a sensor. As the hob turns on, the heat will automatically activate the sensor in the chimney. So globally our hoods have become intelligent and are way beyond just their basic functionality. They offer good features, great design and are intelligent. In India, the market is progressing but there is a long way to go hence we at Elica PB India tailor the international design to boost functionality.

What are the USPs of Elica that set you apart from the rest?

We tailor the international design to boost functionality. We are a value for money brand. Elica is positioned as world’s number one chimney brand and our hobs are promoted as brass burner hobs for Indian cooking. We believe in offering quality, functionality and consistently adding innovative features and upgrading technology. Our product of any range assures you of quality without compromise. It is only due to the aesthetics that the price is more or less. So, technological edge, lean structure and superior product quality sets us apart from other players. Also, we offer superior technology and design at an achievable price scale. Moreover, we never have quality issues and we cover the entire spectrum of customers from low to mid, mid to high and premium which no brand does at present. We have something for all!

Enlighten us on your distribution network and how crucial is this link in your entire business proposition?

We are a national brand with a strong pan India presence. At present, we sell through 2000 retail outlets and approximately 60 distributors. We are planning to increase this number by 20-30% next year to cater to the demand. Also urban markets are more receptive to the concept of modular kitchens and chimneys are majorly sold in category A Towns. But slowly the consumer requirements are also shifting to the semi urban markets. Category B Towns are the erupting and we will be focusing on them too. Currently Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, etc., that is, all the category A towns are important for us but at the same time we have a demand coming in from Category B towns such as Madurai, Coimbatore, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Mangalore, etc. Hence, we cannot undermine their importance. Therefore, this link in our entire business proposition is very significant.

Kindly share with us some of the manufacturing innovations done by you?

We have launched Split Chimneys, Elica Deep Silence (EDS3) and this year we will be launching one more version of EDS3, which will be a more affordable variant. Furthermore, we are also planning to get newer series such as hoods vertical. Elica will also be exhibiting a new technology in Italy before April. We are planning on getting that too in India very soon. Basically, every year the brand has two to three technological innovations to offer and which Elica SpA in turn transfers to India.

What are your expansion plans?

Elica PB India is continuously investing in strengthening its distribution and retailing set up. It intends to grow its network by 40-50% in next 2 years. The brand is also looking at setting up company owned around 15 to 20 studios ‘Elica Hi life’ in next 2 years.

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