A Talk with Mr. Avtar Singh Bhullar, National Sales Manager, MDF-PB Division, Century Plyboards (India) Limited

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Mr. Avtar Singh Bhullar, National Sales Manager, MDF-PB Division, Century Plyboards (India) Limited

MDF boards are slowly catching up the markets with its variety of applications. The Ply Reporter interacted with Mr Avtar Singh Bhullar, National Sales Manager - Century's MDF & Particle board division to understand the new products from the company and the changes coming to Panel users market in India. The interaction with Mr Bhullar, clearly indicate the rise in MDF demand due to changing consumer preferences and rise in plywood prices resulting in better sales performance of Century ProwudMDF in present financial year.

Higher Density PREMIUM PLUS comes with 5 years warranty. Century is the first company in India to give warranty on MDF products. Today middle class buyer wants Value - for - Money preposition. With Higher - Density Premium Plus range we are offering a Quality product at an affordable prices. PREMIUM PLUS meets the parameters of best plywood which are sold in the range of Rs 120 plus per square meter.PREMIUM PLUS is 40 % cheaper than this category of Plywood.

Q. How do you see, the journey of Century ProwudMDF in wood panel market so far?

A. The growth has been substantial, from our production point of view, we are able to sell every piece we produce. We did not introduce all products since beginning of MDF plant, instead we introduced these gradually. We first launched DWR (Densified Water Resistant) & DIR (Densified Interior Range) of products. In the 2nd stage we introduced pre - lam range and now we have unveiled the path - breaking product of the panel industry - PREMIUM PLUS boards. The beauty is that all our product ranges are Quality products and conforms to BIS standards. Even the Premium Plus range has unparalleled 5 years warranty on it.

Q. Do you agree that last Financial year was challenging as there was over supply in the market?

A. Yes, last year was challenging. Almost every player added capacity in MDF. The markets were not in a position to consume such huge production capacity suddenly. Due to this, there were lot of volatility in prices and that affected profitability. Fortunately, Century Prowud was able to change the market dynamics and created its own space due to its Quality products. We did not compete just on basis of prices in the market but with quality products and market - friendly policies. Today, Century Prowud products has reached pan India market. We have created over 500 stockiest network and cater to every nook & corner of the country.

Q. Do you see an improvement in pricing levels in MDF in coming time in MDF?

A. We are working hard for improvements on all fronts. We have launched value added products like Higher - density PREMIUM PLUS boards through which we are targeting quality plywood users. The middle class consumers is a large consumer segment in India and it always aspires to have a quality product at affordable prices. Today with changing consumer preferences the Indian middle - class wants a product that matches their home - ambience and is affordable. Buying the best quality ply boards are beyond their capacity due to higher prices. Due to costeffectiveness, Premium Plus caters to this segment and is fast replacing use of ply boards. With growing demand the prices of quality MDF will definitely go upwards.

Q. How was the last year turnover in MDF? Also tell us your aim for this FY?

A. We have sold around 1.34 lakh square meter of MDF & Premium Plus during 2018 - 19 financial year. Century has been able to reach a combined turnover of over 400 crore, that includes Particle board and MDF. In the current financial year, we are confident of reaching Rs. 500 crore. We are confident of good demand in MDFand hence have plans for a further capacity addition of 400 cubic meters per day at Hoshiarpur plant.

Q. What is there in Premium Plus boards that makes you so confident?

A. Higher Density PREMIUM PLUS comes with 5 years warranty. Century is the first company in India to give warranty on MDF products. Today middle class buyer wants Value - for - Money preposition. With Higher - Density Premium Plus range we are offering a Quality product at an affordable prices. PREMIUM PLUS meets the parameters of best plywood which are sold in the range of Rs 120 plus per square meter.PREMIUM PLUS is 40% cheaper than this category of Plywood. We are also targeting the un-organised plywood market at present with our quality DWR & DIR range of MDF for meeting the requirements of the middle class.

We have sold around 1.34 lakh square meter of MDF & Premium Plus during 2018 - 19 financial year. Century has been able to reach a combined turnover of over 400 crore, that includes Particle board and MDF. In the current financial year, we are confident of reaching Rs. 500 crore.

Q. When this PREMIUM PLUS brand will touch the business of Rs 100 crore?

A. My dream is to go in a year. I bring you back to the past time when Ambassador Car was introduced, there were few who were using it because it was not driver friendly and cost viability did not allow masses to opt for it. Middle class was even not dreaming for it. When the technology gets sophisticated the companies like Maruti, Hyundai etc. introduced affordable & Value for Money options. This changed the entire 4 - wheeler segment. Everyone started buying cars. From young, old to even ladies. Similarly the entire MDF market is changing rapidly and we want to cater to this segment with total dedication.

Q. There is a standard product of 18mm thickness, later on 17mm came, now there is a new range 16.75mm. Don’t you think this practice is a manipulation with a standard thickness of the product?

A. MDF market is an application based market and the thickness are made as per market requirements. Although there was a standard product of 18mm thickness, the market required additional thicknesses of 17mm and 16.75mm to bring more competitiveness with matching plywood thicknesses. We never stopped making 18mm and have other thicknesses to cater to market requirements. If we talk about government sector, where the standard specifications are being practiced, we offer them 18mm, but where the customers want economic pricing and the offerings doesn't affect applications we offer 16.75mm also. For example if we are making a wardrobe, using 16.75mm in place of 18mm doesn't affect its mechanical applications or strength. In our offerings the price difference is corresponding to its thicknesses therefore the customers opt the thickness according to their needs.

Q. Do you see 100 percent capacity utilization of Century MDF plant this year?

A. Yes, I think so ! Last year some people said our plant was not running due to lack of orders but I would like to say that we utilized our full capacity and still had 300 trucks backlog. Fortunately we did not see any hard time on production due to lack of demand. Today we are almost running on full capacity and have decided to increase our capacity with the new production line coming soon.

Q. MDF prices are slotted between Plywood and particle board, how does it affect?

A. Particle board is suitable for furniture making in modular segment. If anyone wants to have Particle Board made furniture through a carpenter then it becomes difficult. The utilisation of plywood is through retailers and carpentry furniture segment. But the versatility of MDF is vast & unique, and thus positions it differently. MDF can easily replace wood in decorative items, handicraft items etc which can't be done by Particle Board or Plywood. MDF can be used in packaging box and also in items like Cake base, Pizza base, Jewellery boxes, small boxes, decorative items, photo frames, photo lamination etc. Therefore, MDF is a versatile product and has many more uses then particle board and plywood. It has its own market segment.

Q. What is the ratio of use of MDF into furniture and others?

A. It would be 60:40 with furniture and other industry. If we talk about photo frames and photo laminations for which hardboard were used earlier, it has completely changed to MDF now. There is great opportunity for doors making and we have an option to start with this venture in coming time. It has very good requirement in the market we hopeto cater this segment in near future.

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