Our Bureau

Pune, July 19

THE Rs 460-crore Nilkamal group, which makes moulded plastic furniture, is diversifying into the lifestyle furniture business where it plans to set up a chain of branded stores across major metros and smaller cities.

Over the next couple of years the group is planning to take `@Home', its branded imported furniture store to at least 25 locations in major cities and simultaneously set up over 40 franchisee operations in smaller towns and cities.

"With disposable incomes and aspirational lifestyles at an all-time high we see a huge potential in the lifestyle and home furniture business,'' Mr Hiten Parekh, Executive Director, said here on Tuesday.

"We plan to target the mass market with our range of furniture imported from all over the world and corner at least 10 per cent of the market to reach a turnover of Rs 220 crore in the next five years,'' Mr Parekh said. The domestic organised ready furniture market is pegged at Rs 600 crore annually.

The company has already set up its first store, a sprawling 14,000 sq ft outlet in Pune, which retails furniture for every part of the house and lifestyle accessories, and plans to set up an additional eight stores this fiscal beginning with two in Mumbai and one in Ahmedabad. "We will invest Rs 40 crore initially for these stores and take the brand to Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Cochin in the second phase this fiscal," Mr Nayan Parekh, Director, Nilkamal Plastics, said.

While the Indian market is currently flooded with furniture from South-East Asian countries, Mr Manish Parekh, Director, said the company will use its group expertise in the retail business and understanding of the market to ensure that its products are designed to suit the requirements of Indian lifestyles. "A lot of wardrobes abroad don't have the concept of locks while Indian homes require a security system and we are customising our range to suit Indian requirements,'' Mr Manish Parekh said.

Customers walking into @ Home stores can avail themselves of complementary interior design services and consultancy from interiors experts who will be available in-store. "We are in the business of home making,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the company also eventually plans to design and manufacture its own range of furniture under the @Home brand to be manufactured locally. "We will manufacture sofas, chairs and metal products and will provide our design and specifications and outsource other home furniture,'' Mr Hiten Parekh said. "Once the current business is consolidated, we will get into specialty stores like kitchen and bathroom accessories,'' Mr Nayan Parekh said.

Nilkamal has manufacturing operations in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. The company sells 1 crore pieces of moulded plastic chairs in India alone every year and processes 45,000 tonnes of plastic annually for the domestic market.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 20, 2005)
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