Ebony Gautier, a joint effort between India’s lifestyle retailer Ebony and Gautier of France, a global furniture brand, plans to open 20 more stores in the next 2 years in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ludhiana and Cochin, says Abhijeet Mitra, CEO, Ebony Gautier.
Ebony Gautier products are manufactured in France, imported to India and stocked at two warehouses each in Chennai and New Delhi to feed the stores in these particular cities. The company plans to set up a supply chain base before moving into any other region.
The youth and the elderly segments contribute towards the total sales of the company in a 40:60 ratio. “A rapid progression in the disposable income of the young achievers gives them access to a better lifestyle. The elderly today are very progressive and hence are a very promising target segment for us,” stated Mitra.
The company targets high networth individuals (HNIs) living in Indian metros with a minimum of 70 lakh per annum package for selling its products in India. The primary customers of the company include people aged between 30 and 55 years who are well-informed, fashion conscious, use premium brands and are intrigued by gadgets and gismos. Frequent domestic and international travellers are also targeted by the company.
Mitra said that infrastructure, condition of roads to transport products from one place to another and real estate are the key challenges faced by the company in India.
According to Mitra, Ebony Gautier did not customise its products for the Indian market. “We follow international standards and offer same products in India as in other 50 countries. We make modular furniture in many categories and do customise wardrobe solution which fit in almost every space,” he explained.
Talking about the emerging trends in the home furniture market in India, Mitra further said: “We have seen two clear trends developing in the Indian home furniture market. The first trend is an overwhelming move towards the compressed wood furniture as it enables better finish and highly stylised yet functional and durable furniture. The second definite trend is the move towards modern and contemporary (straight line) furniture. Both these trends seen among the Indian consumers are inline with the global trends.”
Mitra further added that some of the factors driving the growth of home furniture market in India are: demographic inversion; the average age of an Indian homeowner has fallen to 27 from 40 years in the last decade; growth of nuclear family set up leading to shift in presence of home decoration; increased re-location of people for professional and other reasons; growing number of working women, hence change in the outlook and tastes due to emergence of dual income households; housing boom, an estimated 2.5 million new homes are required every year, and easy access to credit through EMI, credit cards, etc.
The Gautier furniture is mass-produced in a completely computerised factory ensuring same quality of all the pieces. Around 2,000 furniture units are produced on a daily basis. Therefore, it is difficult to manufacture or modify the furniture according to particular specifications unless in large quantities. The modular items, however, can be adjusted to fit in different spaces. Temperature- and water-resistant, ready to assemble furniture, extendable dining tables, and use of compressed boards or MDF boards manufactured by Gautier in its own factory are some of distinguishing features of the Gautier furniture. Also, the furniture manufactured is in accordance to the standards set by the WHO.
All the furniture pieces are individually priced to let a customer select a furniture piece that suits his requirement allowing him to purchase the remaining items over a period of time. As all pieces are manufactured in a computer controlled environment, whenever bought they all look the same.
Sharing his views on FDI in retail, Mitra said: “FDI in retail will not harm the ‘mom- and-pop’ stores. On the contrary with the entry of global retailers, the standards of the product category would go up and the consumer would benefit as he/she would have access to the best and latest global products at best prices. This will also help the overall retail industry to evolve and grow and set new benchmarks in terms of product and services.”
Currently, Ebony Gautier has stores in Noida, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. It will open three more stores in Faridabad, Lucknow and Ludhiana by March 2012. Ebony Gautier registered a 40 percent growth in India in 2011 as compared to the previous year. Talking about the location preferences for opening new stores, he added: “We are open to both high street and malls depending on the location and the city.”
Ebony Gautier stores are a part of home adornment concept which offers contemporary styled furniture along with home accessories. The Gautier furniture is manufactured in France to maintain quality standards. Ebony Gautier claims to be an environmental-friendly brand. It deals in entire home furniture product range such as adult bedroom, junior bedroom, living and dining and keeps launching new designs and products quite frequently in these categories. Major business of the retailer comes from bedroom and living segments.