A Talk With MR Pratik Singhvi, MD, Euro Pratik

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Showrooms need to be open to bring in innovative products and differentiate themselves from other retailers as well as pull designers’ attention.

Euro Pratik, one of the leading suppliers of Decorative Panels, is known for bringing the highest innovative range in Charcoal Panels in India. Besides consolidation in this segment, they have registered double digits growth in this category due to having their pan India market presence with retailers. Mumbai based Euro Pratik and their group companies have been also dealing in many other decorative panels such as PVC laminates, Albasters, Flooring, Planks etc. The Ply Reporter talked to Mr Pratik Singhvi, Managing Director, Euro Pratik regarding the present market scenario of decorative and highlighter panels, along with market trends and approach. Excerpts.

We are the ones who first asked for this material and have exchanged lot of inputs in developing this product, its designs with a combined team effort of India and Korea. With right technical support and good marketing efforts, we offer quality so, you can say that Euro Pratik is the one who invented Charcoal Panel and kept improving gradually. We were the first company to bring this product in 8x4 range and in a way created a market for this product pan - India.

Q. Why Charcoal Panels are not being produced in India?

A. DECOLITE - Charcoal panels making is highly technical and tedious that has been produced at best quality only in Korea. The quality level and precision has not been achieved by any other countries or even China so far. Multiple factors like the ingredient compositions, heat treatment, foils, raw material, paints, brushing, different effects, etc. are not so easy to meet hence the perfection in output is still managed to be achieved by only Korea. We are the ones who first asked for this material and have exchanged lot of inputs in developing this product, its designs with a combined team effort of India and Korea. With right technical support and good marketing efforts, we offer quality so, you can say that Euro Pratik is the one who invented Charcoal Panel and kept improving gradually. We were the first company to bring this product in 8x4 range and in a way created a market for this product pan - India.

Q. Euro Pratik is a leader in this particular category, so how do you manage to differentiate your products?

A. The differentiation in market is established during last five years. Today only one or two companies are making it successfully that is itself a differentiation. Charcoal panels become more difficult if you increase the width of the panel. The finishing of the product is equally important. The material used in making of Charcoal Panel is Polystyrene whose manufacturing process is very complicated. We have currently more than 350 designs in Panels as well as 300 designs in mouldings.

Q. How do you see the growth potential of Charcoal Panels in present Indian market?

A. From last year, Charcoal panel is performing good but sales numbers are not rising the way they use to be during last 3 - 4 years. We can say it is flat now after witnessing good growth. Cumulatively Our Charcoal panel sales grew by 20 - 30 % each year since last few years. During last 12 month, I think, at least 15 players have made an exit, by selling the materials at through away price, therefore the market is currently in a consolidation phase. With 30 - 40 designs, one cannot compete with us and currently there are only 2 - 3 sellers who are selling Charcoal in an organised way and would revive this product in future.

Q. What is you expectation for the next three years in this category?

A. It should grow, as the market is maturing day by day. In Charcoal panels, we are trying to bring something which is new and unique. In design offerings, we have brought something really innovative as if you observe the embossing in designs which were outside embossing till date, but now we have brought inside embossing. It is first time we have introduced in India. We call it PUNCH LINE series. So, we see the future will be very good. Now it is a consolidation period.

One of the very biggest factors is that the competition has drastically come down. Those who are doing business with just a limited range are exiting and those who have long term vision are going to sustain. The serious players with right market, fulfilling inventory, right channel partners and perfect strategy will grow in this segment. We feel only players who have a big range, who can innovate will stay & others will exit sooner or later. Also it should be noted that no other product with the quality & property of Charcoal is available at this price bracket. There is no end to innovation & charcoal has replaced Designer MDF, MOSAICS, PVC wall panels & several other products due to its affordability & design innovation. So we strongly feel, Charcoal is there to stay.

Q. How do you see PVC laminate growth with respect to imports and present market demands or application trends?

A. We are the only importer in color core PVC laminate in the country today. The rest of the players are bringing only white and off-white range to avoid risks and dead stock buildup. We are also doing veneer PVC with high gloss. Due to high gloss, 90 degree bending property, product acceptability it is taking lot of share of regular laminates, especially in 1 mm segment, because it is better in looks and offer many plus points with affordability. PVC laminates are here to stay. We were amongst the first company to introduce this product in India in 2013 & have seen the growth in volume for this product since last 6 years. Currently, there are around 15 brands (majorly Indian manufacturers) promoting this product pan-India.

Q. Do you foresee textured PVC taking some share out of Charcoal?

A. PVC laminate sheets are only a competitive segment to veneer or laminate. It is like a commodity surface panel whereas charcoal is a highlighter panels with different design offerings. PVC mica is used in furniture whereas Charcoal is wall panel product. So segment is different.

Q. Which products are contributing a larger part for EURO PRATIK business today?

A. Actually, we are known for Charcoal Panel supplying company but it plays only a part (one third of our entire business volumes). A larger part of the product range is from other categories like translucent panels, ceiling panels, floorings, mouldings and profiles, solid wood boards, premium grade decorative laminates etc. Currently, EURO PRATIK is divided into three companies which are managed by different people and all are taking care of their own segment. One is ELEMENT DÉCOR handling PVC panels and flooring along with Pine planks. In MILLENNIUM DECOR there are around six products such as Alabaster, Rustic sheets, Glass laminates etc and in EURO PRATIK there are nearly 15 to 17 products such as Charcoal, PVC laminate, Neboard, Fashion Wall, moulding, etc which are being taken care of with total dedication and in focused manner. Currently we are doing more than 30 brands sourced from more than 20 countries worldwide.

With 30-40 designs, one cannot compete with us and currently there are only 2-3 sellers who are selling Charcoal in an organised way and would revive this
product in future.We feel only players who have a big range, who can innovate will stay & others will exit sooner or later. Also it should be noted that no other product with the quality & property of Charcoal is available at this price bracket. There is no end to innovation & charcoal has replaced Designer MDF, MOSAICS, PVC wall panels & several other products due to its affordability & design innovation. So we strongly feel, Charcoal is there to stay.

Q. What is your idea behind identifying a product for India market? What are the factors to select the target group?

A. Our focus is to bring the product in the range from Rs 150/sq ft to Rs 300/sq ft at the maximum. This is our voluminous target segment. Besides, we also have product in decorative segment which ranges from 300/ sq ft to 1500/sq ft, which is our premium offering but its holds a limited volume. For the voluminous segment we have been operating through distributors who continuously ask for different surface materials that offer least maintenance and are easy to lay on.

Q. How EURO PRATIK chooses its channel partners with such a vast range of products? Do you operate with one distributor in a particular area or many?

A. We are very experimental with our plans and it depends on area, opportunity and volumes. In different areas, depending on requirements and work performance, we assign responsibility to different companies. In most of the big cities we have 2-3 distributors dealing with different range of products. In small city, we look to deal with top retailers & prefer to open our exclusive “Euro Pratik “showroom. We have more than 25 exclusive Euro Pratik showrooms pan-India.

In most of the big cities we have 2-3 distributors dealing with different range of products. In small city, we look to deal with top retailers & prefer to open our exclusive “Euro Pratik “showroom. We have more than 25 exclusive Euro Pratik showrooms pan-India.

Q. The distributors take interest in those product range that offer higher margins, in that situation, how do you justify the distribution of your range of products?

A. The distributors are matured enough to keep stock, invest and try new things and ask to bring new range all the time. So, luckily by the grace of God we have likeminded people and they understand us. Sometime when any product runs very slow we try to liquidate them from throughout the distributors’ channel. And slowly and steadily with our R&D team we try to bring any new very good and catchy product which market likes. So, if the distributors are in trouble, ultimately it is the company which is in great trouble. So, we all work together and move ahead with our channel partners.

Q. Don’t you think that in the way the product range has increased, you will have to go on depot model?

A. For decorative products, the Depot model will not work as it's more complex than Ply & Laminate. Earlier we were giving our distributors a larger quantity of products, but now we have made it limited in tune to their actual requirement. Every inventory takes planning of four to seven months with lot of catalogues and marketing efforts and it needs a responsible channel partner. We do not want to dump stock instead we are mainly interested in secondary sales.

Q. EURO PRATIK has been a retail driven company, selling its products through design and backing upon key retailers of cities. Do you see EURO PRATIK will come into the market segment which is lead by Architects and Designers?

A. We have around 25 showrooms across the country and they are focusing on Architects and designers segment customers. But, we are also approaching directly to architects and designers with our marketing team of around 100 people. Our policy is to target dealers in 'A' grade cities while in 'B' and 'C' grade cities, approaching Architects, Designers and Customers directly are our priority.

Q. Out of your vast exposure to decorative panels, What is the message do you wish to give to retailers’?

A. I would like to say that there is no end of innovations, and it is a constant process. Showrooms need to be open minded and bring in new, innovative and exclusive products to differentiate itself from other retailers as well as pull architect, designers to their showrooms. It is true that if retailers say, “It is an innovative product,” this is not sufficient to convince their customers. And, the catalogue does not work for sales, as it is only a secondary support. The proper approach is the sheet display at the showroom or the shops and this is the only way to convince their customers. Its proper presentation definitely boosts the sales as well. There should be display with proper application.

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