WFM: Please comment on the fenestration industry and the growth trajectory particularly for Schueco in India?
Rajeev Antony (RA): My understanding of the Indian fenestration industry is based on the constant feedback from the market during the course of business and from marketing research that we do from time to time. I must say that it is an evolving market with tremendous potential. There are a lot of good quality fabricators working independently and with system companies. The builder / developer community is passing on great value to customers by using high quality façade and fenestration products, like ours, which are high in performance and aesthetic value. There is an increased level of awareness amongst end-users pertaining to the importance of quality windows and doors in residential and commercial projects.
Schueco India is doing well in terms of business performance, surpassing the expected numbers.
WFM: You have recently opened a new experience center and office in Mumbai and shifted to much bigger supply chain hub in Bangalore, are these indicators for a healthy expansion in India?
Rajeev Antony (RA): Yes, the company is currently in a healthy growth phase in India and the needs of the hour was to internally structure and equip ourselves to cater to our customers in a better fashion. In addition to the showroom in New Delhi, the recently inaugurated experience center in Mumbai serves its purpose of providing our customers an opportunity to see the products in person and help them choose better.
The new warehouse and training centre in Bangalore is almost twice as big as the last one to enable us to maintain a bigger inventory and faster outbound shipments to various projects across India.
WFM: Does your company plan to explore tier 2 cities and venture in newer markets in India?
Rajeev Antony (RA): We are doing some luxury housing projects in smaller cities across in at least 2 to 3 locations in India. So in a way, we already are present in some tier 2 cities . In order to maintain quality, it is crucial that we work with only the best fabrication partners and this restricts entrance to a lot of smaller cities, so yes; we are very selective in that aspect. We do have some good fabricator partners who are doing commendable jobs in smaller cities. Furthermore, we keep on evaluating the possibility of newer markets within India.
WFM: Schueco is the largest European systems company in India and enjoys good brand equity amongst the architect, builder/developer and fabricator community. Are there any challenges in particular that the market presents which is unique to India?
Rajeev Antony (RA): Every market is unique and presents itself with local challenges. The aluminium façade and fenestration industry is in the intermediate stage of growth in India and is growing approximately at the rate of 6 per cent. Challenges such as perceived notion (amongst end-users, developers) about price as compared to performance, standardization in fabrication quality and set-up (for fabricators) are some of the challenges that the business faces.
WFM: Does the company primarily focus on large projects in India only or retail household also?
Rajeev Antony (RA): As I mentioned earlier, a major portion of our projects in India are large projects (residential and commercial projects). However, that being said, some of our fabricator partners are focused on delivering high-end luxury housing in metropolitan cities as well as select Tier 2 cities. In fact we have executed some stunning luxury private residences (villas, bungalows, private homes) in India.
WFM: Technical, design and service support is very crucial for a market like India where there is a lot of catching-up to do in terms of international practices and standards. How and what is Schueco doing in this regard to bring the International standards into practice?
Rajeev Antony (RA): The brand Schueco differentiates itself from others by the quality and performance of systems for windows, doors, sliders and facades which is typical of a German engineered product. In order to maintain that quality there are standardization and strict quality control that are done. We have a big team of technical managers, estimators and service engineering / after-sales service personnel in India who provide correct and speedy solutions to various project obstacles (pre and post sales). Our proprietary software – SchuCal helps our fabricators in all stages of the process and ensures that we maintain consistency with quality anywhere else in the world.
We have put together a large team of engineers and technicians in our recently formed ‘Design and Engineering Centre’ in Bangalore working for the Schueco Group on various global projects and developments.
In addition to this, we participate and encourage various platforms like the ZAK World of Facades and other similar roadshows where there is a knowledge exchange and discussion on Indian façade and fenestration industry’s challenges and ways to bring it at par with the West.
WFM: Being the Principal Sponsor for the ZAK events, can you comment on how important are these conferences and exhibitions are for Schueco India?
Rajeev Antony (RA): Exhibitions and customer events have always been an important part of marketing efforts by Schueco. Whether it is our flagship exhibition in Germany (BAU trade fair, Munich) or regional fairs / exhibition in other countries where Schueco is present, these form an integral part of the customer experience. The exhibitions not only give our customers a chance to see the latest product offering but also help us get a collective feedback from the local market in addition to the feedback received by our sales team. I am aware and appreciative of ZAK Group’s effort in bringing the Indian fenestration industry together and creating such platforms which we are proud to be a part of as Principal Sponsors.