Imagine a sprawling, swanky 2,600 sq.ft. store dedicated to just tiles! It’s hard to believe that just a couple of years back this could have been accepted and possible. But with retail in India changing the way people ‘shop’, today a well-known name from the tiles industry – Nitco Ltd. – has an exclusive showroom dedicated to display its collection without any intention of selling the same from this showroom. We explore the concept further.
For people well acquainted with Mumbai, you would know that the area of Kanjurmarg really doesn’t figure in the ‘places to visit to shop’ while deciding and executing the interiors of a home, office or store. Changing the rules here is Nitco Ltd. with their store that is gradually catching the attention of architects and interior designers from the city. On display at the store is a vast array of tiles from the house of Nitco and the display is limited not just on the panels but the exquisite range is well laid down as flooring at the store, on the walls and by means of pillars and table-tops.
Sharing the brief history of the brand, Subrata Basu, Assitant Vice President, Nitco Ltd., says: “Nitco Ltd. was started with the ethos of providing tiles at par with international quality for the Indian consumer. The category required both end-consumers, architects and project consumers to visualise the products and innovation that Nitco created, which included new technology, new designs and new formats. From the first stain-free tiles, first gres porcelain tiles and full body tiles to rotocolour designs, large format tiles, wooden finish, stone finish and metal finish, Nitco has always been the first to set the trends in new design and technology for the industry.”
Talking about their foray into retail, he adds: “We are also the first to start an organised retail chain to help give the architects projects and end-consumers a shopping experience by creating live experience zones and not the regular boxy display stands. Sticking to our reputation of being a design-driven brand, we conceptualised the idea of having exclusive showrooms called Nitco Le Studio.” Today, Nitco exclusive stores have a footprint of 16 company-owned Nitco Le Studios and 50 franchised stores called LSEs (Le Studio Expresses) located across the country.
Being a trendsetter in this space, the first possible challenge they faced was that of having no one to benchmark themselves against. This led them to begin from scratch and evolve the model of having exclusive swanky stores for display of tiles completely at their own risk. Another challenge that Basu talks about is related to something the retail industry is well aware of – trained manpower!
For Nitco the primary target audience would be architects and interior decorators. Explaining the modus operandi adopted by the brand, Basu shares: “Over the years we have managed to win the trust of architects across various segments with our innovations and quality products. With the launch of our exclusive stores, it became a one-stop shop for them where they could happily bring in their clients to take their inputs and understand their choice as well. We regularly organise architect meetings and also hold events for any product launches that we have. Besides this, we also have exclusive preview parties at regular intervals for selected architects and interior designers.”
According to Basu, the cost of setting up a store on the lines of the Kanjurmarg store would be about Rs 1 crore. On an average, they have about 15 walk-ins though aggressive marketing activities are being planned to generate more footfalls and finally have them converted into actual shoppers. To ensure that the staff at the store remains upbeat all the time, besides cash incentives, the brand also felicitates its best employees with Nitco Star.
Early to recognise the gap in the market and the potential it has, Nitco has managed to create a niche for itself with its exclusive tile display store.