Home Common Furnishing with a French Twist

Furnishing with a French Twist

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Pondicherry based furniture design store, Home Trotters is expanding its reach to a national level by going online. Experimenting on Indo – French and Japanese designs, the Home Trotter store, run by Arnaud and Catherine Laederich has been growing in demand in India and globally.

Shifting Base
Arnaud Laederich had 10 of his own home furnishing stores in France. He would design and manufacture out of his own factory. Says Arnaud,”After my studies in Paris, I founded a furniture company and learned only with my own experience, step by step. I had the capacity to make sketches that were inline to the technical capacity of my employees.”

Seeking new horizons, he and his wife Catherine Laederich decided to move to Pondicherry India in 2006. He closed all his 10 outlets in France and started the Mango Hill Hotel and Company, on the outskirts of Pondicherry, which not only is a well established resort but has also extended into a home made cheese factory along with his grand uncle. Being well equipped with his expertise and knowledge in home furnishing, Arnaud and his wife Catherine started out the Home Trotters store in Pondicherry. The 3000 square feet area store is stocked up with furniture, lamps and lanterns as well as home accessories. The Home Trotter store has seen an annual turn over of `50 lakhs in the past one year and is expected to grow another 20 per cent with its online debut with Amazon.com.

Designs
Arnaud, backed up with 30 years of experience in the furnishing industry, draws a lot of inspiration from the Japanese tatami furniture designs. He designs out of Pondicherry and out sources exclusive work units near Auroville. He uses locally sourced wood, particularly teak from in-and-around Pondicherry as well as Auroville. Arnaud also sources out from Chettiar ancestral homes, who often try to do away with their old designs and re-design their old teak wood furniture into contemporary Indo-French styles.

The Store
The Home Trotter store is 3000 square feet in area, including two floors stocked up with modular sofas, arm chairs, coffee tables, beds, cupboards, wardrobes, sideboards, display cabinets, desk, tables, consoles and lamps as well as home accessories. The lanterns are made at the store by one of the local crafts woman and accessories are sourced out from suppliers in Delhi and Auroville. According to Catherine Laederich, Store Manager, the store soon had a tremendous amount of demand for modular sofas which was the fastest moving range that customers would often buy along with a bed. The products are roughly priced from  `7000 ( for small tables ) to  `30,000 – 45,000 for bigger furniture. According to Catherine, on an average, customers spend around Rs.30,000 when they come shopping at the store.

Expansion
Home Trotters supplies it furniture to Chennai, Bangalore, and to countries like the USA. Catherine points out,”We can export anywhere, as the cost will be bared by the customer. Arnaud does refine his designs according to customer requirements. We have a need to go national and we have such unique products. We thought the best way to showcase these unique designs, is by going online. Amazon has just started selling furniture this year and takes 10 per cent of the margin. We do the packaging and they collect the products. It is convenient as a seller.”
Home Trotters has customers ordering from all around India and with the online sales set to boost, they expect even better visibility. Citing competition from well known online players like PepperFry and Urban Ladder who are also retailing online, Home Trotters is targeting metro cities, offering unique one of a kind designs which will be launched seasonally.

She adds,”So customers have a view of the exclusive range, unlike brands such as Ikea that offer the same designs for all customers.”

Challenges
Online sales cannot stop people from copying their designs but Arnaud is confident that his furniture cannot be replicated as there is a lot of technicality that goes into creating certain furniture. Says Catherine,”The finishing and the Indo – french idea that goes into the design is not very easy for anybody to replicate. Any designer and carpenter cannot be able to achieve the same. The more simple the design the more difficult it is to make. We have furniture which is assembled without any screws or hinges.”