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The Space Odyssey

As the Indian retail sector expands, and retailers aim for international standards and best practices, a number of store designers and furniture manufacturers, among others, from across the world are making a beeline for India. One such company that firmly believes in the growth potential of India is Kider, the Spanish manufacturer of retail shopfits and fixtures, which recently marched into India.
With over 50 years of experience in working with retailers in fitting out their units, Kider’s mission is to strike a balance among design, quality and economics (wherein the most profitable solutions are used to optimise the display area).
On what brings Kider to India, Hans Anthony, vice-president, sales and marketing, Kider, says, “India is advancing at a persistent pace towards becoming an economic power. Customers have become aware of the ‘value’ of products and aspire for global standards. With its immense experience, Kider can bring in its expertise in setting up large and multiple format stores, by designing, providing innovative, cost-effective and value-added solutions that will surpass our clients’ expectations in terms of product quality.”
The company is, in fact, confident that with its 70,000 product offerings, it can never fall short of customers’ expectations. “At Kider, value adding is not just providing a superior product or service, which is very much expected. We strive to add real value by helping our customers reach their business goals,” Anthony says.
Some of the confidence that the company has in itself stems from its 50-plus years of experience in providing solutions to retailers in Europe and, in the process, evolving with them.
“Our in-house design and R&D departments work round-the-clock on innovative product development. Kider has four production centres in Spain specialising in different product lines. Having separate production plants enables Kider to exercise complete control over its products – right from the moment of its creation in the design department to its delivery to the customer. The manufacturing processes employed by Kider incorporate state-of-the-art technology, while adapting to changing needs of the markets by being more flexible and responsive,” he explains.
The Indian Journey
Kider’s Indian journey began last year, when Kider India – a 100 percent subsidiary of Kider Spain – was established. The company has already acquired land in Pune to start local manufacturing of shop-fitting by October this year. “To take our vision forward, Kider India has acquired eight acres of land in Pune.
Our core strength is to produce high-quality shelving units at a rapid pace, which would provide substantial advantages in cost, as compared to traditional manufacturing methods adopted by local suppliers,” says Anthony.
Although Kider has a huge list of 70,000 references (product offerings), Kider India will start with about 5,000 standard references from its local manufacturing set-up and look forward to build on it over the years, based on local demand Patterns.
“The Kider offer for India includes multiple choice of fixtures for various sections of hypermarket formats, food, personal care, toys and sports, textile, household appliances, books and stationery, home décor, kitchen ware, electronics and IT, consumer durables, bakery, fruits and vegetables, among others. Besides, we are looking at doing speciality store formats,” Anthony discloses. On its full capacity, Anthony says, Kider India plant will easily be able to cater to a minimum of five to six hypermarket stores of 5,000 sq.mt a month. “The buck doesn’t stop there. We would like to be involved right from designing of the store to final installation. Apart from shelving, we will be doing checkout counters and other store fixtures and accessories, catered to from the same factory,” he explains.
The Kider Advantage
The hallmark of Kider products, the company claims, is the high level of sturdiness in terms of load-bearing capacity and high-quality powder coating, which would be highly resistant to abrasion, chemical agents, high resistance to oxidation and resistance to yellowing due to heat and ultra-violet rays.
Though the company has internationally worked with clients such as Carrefour and Auchan, among many others, in India it so far has only one client – D-Mart, which is run by Avenue Super Marts Pvt Ltd. Kider, however, wants to understand retailers’ requirements and share its own experience with them.
“We plan to look at all possible opportunities to learn and adapt in catering to their specific needs,” Anthony notes. “Some of our prestigious clients in Europe include Carrefour, Auchan, Alcampo, Eroski, Spar, Koop, Le Clerc and Casino. In India, our only client, so far, is D-Mart, for which we have executed 18 projects in the last two years (fixtures supplied from Spain). We aim to have at least four hypermarket retailers working with us in the near future.”
The primary challenge for Kider in making a dent, of course, is the plentiful supply of cheap Chinese shopfits in India. Why would an Indian retailer invest in higher-priced – albeit higher grade – products from Kider and not a Chinese exporter? “Well, it’s true that most retailers are currently procuring from China. Local manufacturing still has a long way to go; there are not many quality domestic suppliers for shopfits in India. So, there is definitely a vacuum, which needs to be filled,” Anthony Agrees.
“Over the years, Kider has invested heavily in research and development based on customer feedback. Our USP is design, the load-bearing capacity of fixtures that results in longevity and, finally, the product options. We have six different patents for shelving systems alone. The design is such that it allows flexibility of use in many different ways.”
Price Wise
India is a price-sensitive market – any purchase decision is based, to a great extent, on this ubiquitous factor. And with more competitively-priced products from different countries, including China, Kider will have to bear the cost-efficiency ratio in mind.
Agreeing that the Indian market is price-conscious, Anthony says, “Unfortunately, in Indian retail, most purchase decisions are based on the budgets worked solely on the acquisition cost. The project teams are generally under pressure to keep the project cost low by curtailing the project cost per sq.ft. While we agree that the project cost needs to be controlled, we advocate realising the potential of every unit of retail space within each store. Space is a highly valuable yet limited resource. Effectively managing the store plan will differentiate the star retail performers from the ordinary.”
Anthony, in fact, thinks the criterion for any buying decision should shift from the initial purchase price to the life-cycle cost of the product and its customer-centric design. He says, “Kider is able to boost the store merchandise density by providing features and fixtures with varied length to suit different layouts and ensuring optimum utilisation of space. This gives more shelf space and flexibility to bring out the hidden or non-obvious ownership cost that might otherwise be overlooked in making purchase decisions or planning budgets. With Kider fixtures, refurbishing cost and re-segmenting cost is virtually nil.”
So, while the Spanish company knows very well that price is an important factor in India, it believes that ‘forward-looking’ retailers in the country are ready to embrace advanced solutions on a long-term perspective. And these retailers, Anthony stresses, are the target customers for Kider India.