D’Decor believes bringing European design to Indian furnishings has helped its growth.

This festival season, are you on the lookout for new upholstery or curtains with which to brighten up your home?

Designers and manufacturers of high-quality curtain and upholstery fabrics, trimmings and wallpapers wait for this time of the year when people want to give their homes a makeover to welcome the festive spirit.

For 47-year-old Sanjay Arora, the raw poetry that goes into the making of curtains marked a turning point in his life. The managing director of D'Decor Home Fabrics, Arora is an MBA from the London School of Business. In the Nineties he decided to take on vendors from Turkey who were the largest suppliers of sheer fabric to the European Union at the time. Today, he is at the helm of the world's third-largest manufacturer of curtain and upholstery fabrics.

Aided by elder brother Ajay Arora, he plans to power the company to sales of Rs 1,800 crore over the next 4-5 years. Currently, annual sales have crossed Rs 950 crore.

Not an insurmountable task, says Arora. “We have doubled sales in three years and are keen to have that magic again, given the excellent growth that we are witnessing, both in the global market as well as in the home market,”' he adds.

With a 17-18 per cent growth overall in the furnishings business in the global market, despite the slowdown, Arora says, “We have seen almost 30 per cent growth in the domestic market. This has helped us innovate and handle complexity and scale.”

The company has four sophisticated manufacturing plants at Tarapur near Mumbai, with output exceeding 100,000 metres a day. “Our supply chain is capable of delivering in 48 hours more than 200,000 stock keeping units,” he says.

What recession?

Arora insists curtain, drapery and upholstery stores are negatively affected by the recession. “Curtains and draperies are all-time favourites and home textile sales never dwindle. Though catalogue, online, and other sales were relatively flat for some time, they have shot up. Logically, consumers tend to have their furniture repaired rather than replace it when their discretionary income is low,” he says.

Overall, he adds that the industry has aided consumers who focused on the home and personalised their environments, with most companies recognising the lifestyle directions by providing stylish yet relatively low-priced products.

As the company's design department works in sync with Italian design houses, it aims to bridge the gap between international fashion and home furnishings.

D'Decor is available at Kravat, JAB, Romo, Casamance, Harrods and other luxury destinations across Europe.

Home front

Given the slight lull in the global market, the company decided to focus on the home market. Today, of the Rs 950-crore sales, Rs 350 crore comes from sales in India.

However, the home furnishing category is highly fragmented given its many suppliers and retailers. “Distribution was a huge challenge at one point. We had just 150 stores. Today, with 350 shops all over India, we are very price-driven. We have a stock strength of 14 lakh metre fabric and Rs 60 crore worth of stock,'' adds Arora.

The company supplies to major furnishing stores across the country, such as Bharat Furnishings in Mumbai, Drapes Avenue in Bengaluru, Times Furnishing in Kolkata and Jagdish Stores in Delhi.

Though D'Decor produces 1 lakh metres of fabric a day, there are no minimums and a customer can place an order for as little as one metre.

Patriarch V. K. Arora and elder son Ajay Arora are in the midst of engineering D'Decor's next innovation. The launch of a new business model in the domestic market has been a game-changer for the company providing exponential growth.

“There will be a natural progression to furniture and D'Decor will soon add bedsheets to its range,”' says Arora. “Bedsheets are expected to add Rs 20 crore to our annual sales,” he adds.

Advertising

In August 2010, the company decided to go in for an aggressive branding and communication campaign, with the tagline ‘Innovating Homes’.

“By then, we were a 10-year-old company, but were present in the Indian market only for the past three years. Given the push in the home textile segment here, we decided to showcase ourselves to the Indian consumer,” Sanjay adds.

With more than 2.5 crore new homes expected in the next decade, the branding communication marked the company's shift from business-to-business to business-to-consumer trade.

D'Decor announced the re-launch of its brand with superstar Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan. For the first time, the Badshah of Bollywood teamed up with wife Gauri Khan to endorse a product. Arora says, “They are family friends. We were hoping having the duo endorse the brand would help strike a chord with Indian families.”

And strike a chord it did, with sales zooming. For the Indian consumer, access to Europe’s best design houses had been missing.

Inventive retail

All of the company's retailers are connected via the Internet, with most stores holding absolutely no inventory. Customers are shown swatches in a catalogue instead of the huge fabric rolls these stores usually display. This helped the branding effort, prevented the bother of stocking the product at the store and reduced customers' waiting time, says Arora.

Usually, the fabric is delivered within 48 hours to the store, following which it is delivered to the customer's home. The fabrics are available to the Indian consumers in real time, even as they are launched across the US and European markets.

Arora has a one-point agenda. “We want to be the heart of India. We have the copyright ownership of over more than 10,000 designs and are adding more to our portfolio every day,” says Sanjay.

D'Decor exports home fabrics to 65 countries worldwide. Products are designed in-house and by designers from Italy, other parts of Europe and the US. The brand offers over 700 designs in multiple colours, with prices ranging from Rs 1,199 to 3,999 per metre.

(This article was published on November 15, 2012)
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