With almost three decades of journey providing the best of the products in the best of the class under one roof, Core has been supplying outstanding interior products for furniture, lighting, decor and accessories. They also promote quality standard and state of the art products supported by knowledge of latest trends and technology, environment, and years of expertise of professional service from enquiry through to delivery. Their journey had begun as Gujarat Plywood which was focusing on single point i.e. plywood, started by Mr. Madan Sharma in the year 1991. In One 2 One discussion with the Ply Reporter Mr Prakash Tawania, Core, Surat talked about their innovation in retail business.
What Changes do you see in the retailing business?
The biggest change, we can see in the retailer business is that people want facilities to get the material finished in no time after selection. Secondly, the labor issue is there in the market, as in a day if 10 clients are visiting, two three of them are having concerns to get it finished and ask us to do so. They want to save time and if the material is high-end, their first question comes - can you get it finished? If you are offering finishing also the chances of sales increase notably to a large extent as they observe that the retailers’ team will give the service of finishing also. Such requirements are not for basic substrate material but largely for the others like high-end surface materials and decorative items.
In such a scenario a high-end retailer needs to have backup of an OEM and also change in display centre?
Definitely, now they need everything like if there is wooden material, they need its pre-finished, ready structured, panelling system and get painted. For that you need to have a workstation so that the client can get such a making and installation system with no time. How efficient you are in installation service also matters the most?
I mean to say that if the retailers are selling surface products, they need to have that’s mock up also in the display centre that can reveal their service quality and how the furniture can be made, the material can be used; away from the traditional sales model where the woodworking professionals like carpenters were playing greater role.
If we talk about products only like laminate, veneer, acrylic, louvers, and many other high end items and observe separately, what is the trend now?
If I am selling laminate or louvers, I have to make the concept on display with its applications and uses also like if there is acrylic, our display should be panel with installation system and suggest to the clients that you will get the same material with the same finishing and system installed with it. In such cases the client has to select the material only and rest is at our end. So, now with such changes with the customers' expectations, we need to have such displays as well.
What are the reasons that all of sudden such a scenario arises after the pandemic?
It is due to carpenters’ scarcity and non availability at some locations. We are seeing a great change that the next generation of the carpenters’ community are not coming forward to the profession or services in which their ancestral belongings are there. They are doing anything but not carpentry. Who will give that service?
What impact do you see on retail business due to that? Whether the retailers’ businesses are getting stronger day by day?
Definitely the business will be stronger! It will boost our strength and profitability also with opening up new avenues and expansion of business traits for retailers.
Are you comfortable getting skilled workforce that are needed for finishing, installation and processing?
Yes, we are getting them because the labourers who can assist those skilled carpenters are available in good numbers. Now there is a need for that skilled person, who can get the work done from them and think how the required finishing can be made and installed. That middle men role in between the architects and non-skilled woodworking labourers are being played by the retailers now. The architects pass any designs after calculating everything and tell us about the space and design to be made. With our expertise on materials, its handling and working on that mechanism in association with OEMs, we are trying to execute them effectively.
In such a scenario what would be the role play of architects?
Their role is to select materials from what we show them. With their expertise, observation and experience for the requirement of materials for any interior, they design and suggest for installation or with a combination of materials giving a new look to the space. In this way the architects play an effective and important role.
Then what is the role play of wholesalers and retailers?
The wholesalers’ role is to stock the materials. With such changes their capacity building is to expand their product line. The retailers are also strengthening its capacity by building reach to more and more architects. We are procuring the materials from wholesalers, making them according to the clients’ interest and offering the architects a complete solution.
Such changes are happening in bigger cities or small cities also?
It is largely prevailing in big cities. In the small cites traditional practices are still prevailing and woodworking professionals are working on the design suggested by interior designers. In big cities, high rise buildings are there in large numbers and people don’t have much time. They have to work within a fixed time interval. So, they seek such types of suppliers who can give all solutions and try to have minimal work remains at site. So, in metro cities such practices are prevailing now.
Off let, the demand for acrylic and louvers has all of sudden increased after the pandemic and veneer is going down to some extent. What is the reason behind it?
The veneer application needs a lot of other ancillary support and finishes like aluminium framing, wooden structure, plywood, polishing. So, they would need to design it for beauty and aesthetics. While many louvers are of such types, that can be installed directly on walls. Thirdly, among louvers there are ready concepts with required variations and unlimited colours so people have greater attraction towards it. Acrylics are also a ready material if you get its panel. But, if anyone wishes to work on it, it is not much different from veneer in terms of ancillary support and finishing.
Then, why are the sales of acrylic increasing?
It is being opted in place of colours, paint and PU on wardrobes and other applications. The ready acrylic material is being pasted on the wardrobe directly. In the kitchen basic laminates were being used but now people are using acrylic. These are a few things that’s why acrylic sales are increasing.
How do you see the future of PVC laminate and other such products?
It will go ahead but not in the high end segment because 80% market is for mid/lower segment where its impact is better due to being a reasonably priced product.
HPL is a tried and tested product with proven technical parameters, ISI, quality certification and R&D; but others decorative panels lack behind technical parameters such as emission level, health issues etc. So, what is future?
In the exterior application, 2-3 materials are tried and tested like ACP has its own market, Exterior grade laminates has better demand. In front of them some exterior louvers, PVC materials are being placed in the market. Similarly for interior purposes if you are using basic PVC material, or low quality acrylic, there is a limitation of use and its durability.
When we talk about building materials, issues like fire safety, environment, health, borer-termite, anti-scratch etc. but this is a phase of time when people are trying different materials, but with awareness, the interest will change.
It is said that the retailers are earning a considerably good margin in these new decorative panels, so they are promoting it?
This is not the case; actually retailers sell it with public interest. When people make a home, they don’t know properly about the products and their uses and applications. They are largely dependent on retailers or the carpenters and ask for materials. The retailers have these materials as ready options. They know that the customers will like it for its designs and looks and when they show the customers choose them immediately. Margin has different aspects and if we calculate the percentage that would be the same but this is an easy sales under customers’ interest.
In the flooring segment which one has a bright future?
Engineered and laminate flooring are best runners for general purpose. In the corporate world vinyl floorings are much liked as there is a need for highly maintenancefree materials so that a large number of people can work and use the flooring for a long time.
If we compare ACP and HPL facade, which one do you like most?
There are certain factors, details and designs that are not available in HPL facade. But, if we talk about looks, designs and durability HPL is far better as in this the designs are available that looks like wood etc. When touched the HPL and ACP feels differently where HPL appears good. On the other hand, some designs with curves like C and U shapes are possible only in ACP.
Any decorative surface product growth depends on design innovation and application. So, if anyone wants to grow a product where it is needed to focus on?
Ultimately developing the application is a must because by this way, we can give various options and possibilities for applications. Greater the application possibilities, larger are the growth prospects. If we do design innovations and there are limited options for application how much it can grow? Like a design has been given only in 18mm thickness and the applications are needed with much lower thickness of materials, there definitely would not have sales realisation for that offerings. Numerous ideas are shown in exhibitions with different applications for a particular decorative surface materials i.e in the European countries laminate is used on kitchen top, so the company must focus on diversity of applications of decorative surfaces materials to have growth.
It is said that Europe brings design-trends. Due to travel constraints, what is scenario now?
Their presentations remain unique and new even with old products. They focus on different applications growth, designs, colours and aesthetics. Today with fast global communication, if architects see any new material or product designs they try to reach them and sometimes ask us to make that available, so now it does not take time to bring any new material to India to that extent what it was earlier that comes in five years. Now in a year or two the European material gets used in the Indian market also.
You normally cater to high end customers, so what is the ratio of High Density MDF and Plywood among them?
Even today the customers are more inclined towards plywood due to their previous personal experience. The customer's trust is still with plywood for its durability, although there is no issue using High Density MDF. We are also selling ready panels either from imports of local solutions in which the customers are not able to see inside so they opt for it considering its quality, guarantee, warrantee, etc.
For a retail counter, what should be their focus areas to take utmost care? And what should not be done?
Quality should be excellent as with it you get repeat customers. The rate should be reasonable. Innovation in display and design offerings should be on a continuous basis to serve the architects every time with something innovative when they visit us. And they should not have such types of materials that can get complaints and extensive after sales service. This is just a waste of energy and no profit. The customers’ satisfaction should be the prime objective that will give you peace of mind also. The complaint should not be more than one or two percent of sales in a year.
The high end natural veneer sales are stagnant to some extent now. Do you think that will pick up and cover up in the coming days?
Definitely pick up and compensate for the sales because it is a natural product! There is no replacement of veneer and wood. Its beauty will remain there forever. There are high possibilities that due to other surfacing material veneer sales are down today but pick up because that is everlasting.
Stocking also plays an important role for retailers, as those who are having greater stock are also having better hold on the market?
It depends on the strength and the stock of the range of materials like laminates – stock with after sales service, veneers – service and range, etc. If everything is maintained and service is good they will automatically get its benefit.