Danube Home, part of Dubai-based diversified business conglomerate Danube Group, has forayed into India by opening its first store in Hyderabad in October 2018. The brand has high hopes for the Indian market.
In an exclusive interview with IMAGES Retail, Shubhojit Mahalanobis, General Manager, Danube Home says, “We see India as a country with huge potential, offering an incredible opportunity for growth. The real estate sector is at its peak in India with numerous properties, towers, communities and complexes coming up for both residential and commercial purposes. This directly contributes to a rise in demand for home furnishing products and solutions. Moreover, demonetization and GST has made operating in India much easier for international brands.”
“Reports say India is expected to see a faster expansion of urban population consisting of aspirational millennials and middle class families with spending power that will trigger the growth in demand for affordable home furnishing products and solutions. For a brand like Danube Home that offers home furnishing products and solutions, this is a very promising time to enter the country,” he adds.
Danube Home, which will be sourcing 30 percent from India to complement the government’s initiatives, has done an extensive study on Indian consumers, their buying behaviours, color and lifestyle patterns. Based on the research, the store that spans across 60,000 sq. ft offers more than 20,000 products under one roof targeting the middle and upper-middle segment of pyramid.
The Danube Home store in Hyderabad has all the key features and benefits that global consumers are experiencing across the Middle East. However, its India product portfolio will be a lot different from the Middle Eastern market.
“We have handpicked collections to cater to the well-travelled modern Indian consumer with products from various parts of the world such as US, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Russia, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, UK and China, to name a few, giving customers a great opportunity to shop the best quality products at value for money price,” states Mahalanobis.
“In addition to this, customers will enjoy free interior designing services and seamless payment solutions with consumer financing options,” he states. These key features ensures 90 percent of repeat customers.
Danube Home, which starts as an online player and plans to go Omnichannel eventually as traction picks up, aims to offer complete home solutions, for instance other brands who sell sofa or beds do not sell wall paper or customized curtains, but Danube offers end-to-end solutions that include everything from outdoor furniture to sanitary ware.
“We focus a lot on our customer service standards and ensure both pre and post sales is a memorable experience which is why we have been awarded the No. 1 furniture retailer by the Dubai Government. We have a dedicated post sales team that makes direct calls to ensure everything goes smoothly post sales. This is an important step of the whole brand experience,” explains Mahalanobis.
Their customers also experience Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Online Seamless Shopping and many new technologies that Danube offers in its markets abroad. Customers will also be able to walk through their dream home in Virtual Reality.
“Danube Home offers global quality products at local price. We source our products from across the world and design our collections looking at customers behaviour and needs. Gradually, the Indian consumers shall experience various innovative and engaging little touches which we hope will be unique to us. That is what the brand is all about,” he adds.
As far as marketing plans of the brand is concerned, Danube Home has mixed conventional and unconventional mediums to connect with the brand’s ethnicity. The brand has taken the ATL, BTL, social and guerrilla marketing routes.
“We have added fun, interactive elements and image build up activities. We are targeting middle class and upper middle class millennials, double income no kids section and nuclear families. Our key focus remains with builders, architects and the designers’ segment, who shall be amazed to see our collection and price offerings for their projects,” says Mahalanobis.
The brand will be using all the mediums – print, TV and online – to advertise itself in India to get the maximum ROI.
Besides, the entry of the brand in the Indian market will not only create 1,500 direct jobs, but also support local industries that will benefit from the supply chain as it will deepen, sourcing products from every nook and corner of India.
“This will also help us to create a greater demand for Indian designed home décor and home furnishing products and export them to other markets – such as the GCC – where we have a strong presence,” states Mahalanobis.
Each store of the brand will employ around 85-100 direct employees and 50 indirect employees, logistics department will have 50-75 employees during the initial days and gradually with the increase in strength of stores, the count will also increase.
“We hire the best from the industry, train them rigorously sharpen their skills aggressively and keep them motivated for a long period of time to deliver great results. The India team will also experience our team bonding and training methods, and hopefully, they will also deliver miraculous results,” he says.
The brand believes in flexible work culture driven only by performance based rewarding, empowering the team and giving them enough freedom to bring success.
Apart from this, Danube Home has a plethora of employee engagement activities like multiple outbound training programs at various levels, product launches at off-sites involving the power sellers, runs reward programs and engage in healthy competition atmosphere within each peer group.
Danube Home plans to set up 10 large format showrooms, a large logistics hub, transport network and associated facilities in the next 5 years.
“We have identified potential locations across the North and South Indian States. Once the properties are signed, the plan would be disclosed,” says Mahalanobis.
The average store size in India will be between 40,000 – 50,000 sq. ft depending upon the space and layout of the store. Depending upon the size of each store, average investment per store will be Rs 40 crore. The brand is already in talks with few big mall developers and hopes to partner with them for aggressive pan India expansion.
“We target to grow 15 percent like-for-like each year for the initial 5 years. We don’t want to be bullish about the growth unless we settle down and understand the market deeply,” he concludes.