Companies

‘Come summer, commercial air-coolers will change the course of industry’

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on February 20, 2019 Published on February 20, 2019

Achal Bakeri, founder and Chairman, Symphony Limited.

Symphony is set to introduce India's first ingenuously manufactured industrial/commercial air-cooler this summer.

 

India's largest air-cooler maker, Symphony Limited is once again on a path to explore an uncharted territory of industrial/commercial air-coolers.

Having established its market leadership in the household segment, Symphony is moving towards the commercial segment to unlock the next level of growth for the company. Founder and Chairman, Achal Bakeri speaks to BusinessLine on current market and future prospects for the company. Edited excerpts:

Having faced two major economic events of demonetisation and the rollout of GST in the past two years, how do you see air-cooler market responding?

At the moment, the market has been a little soft. This could be due to a combination of factors including higher inventory and general softening of the economy due to GST and demonetisation. But, these are short-term cyclical issues. That doesn’t matter because in the long term, the economy is growing at a robust pace and growth opportunities are there. We believe that there is still a lot of upside in air-coolers. We will see a CAGR of 27 per cent by 2022, on account of rising temperature levels, growing middle class population and low prices of air coolers as compared to air conditioners.

As a pioneer in the organised air-cooler segment, how is Symphony tackling the growing competition in the space?

In our estimation, the air-cooler market is about 7-8 million units per annum with only 25 per cent from organised players, in which Symphony holds 45 per cent share. In value terms, the organised market size is about ₹2,000 crore. From the time when there was zero share of organised players, we have reached here and Symphony continues to be the leader in the segment. Now, the whole pie is growing.

What will be Symphony's strategy to unlock next level of growth in this competitive scenario?

We have multiple growth drivers. One of them is domestic market, in which we have segments of air-coolers for household and commercial applications. The household segment is well-established and grows at 27 per cent CAGR with many other players in it.

Whereas the industrial/commercial coolers segment doesn’t exist in the country at present. It has very negligible presence, with mostly imported ones. Our strategic focus is more towards this segment because it has good potential and relatively fewer players.

How promising is this segment?

Symphony created this segment about 6-7 years ago, but due to low volumes it didn't contribute much to our topline. But there is enormous potential in the long-term. Large commercial establishments are difficult to air-condition. But we have seen success in air-coolers at commercial places. Our R&D is working towards this.

We have some products lined-up for the summer of 2019 in this segment, which will change the course of the industry. We may need to educate the market, but at 1/10th of the electricity cost of an AC, this makes a preferred bet.

Earlier we used to import these from our own factory in Mexico. But beginning 2019, we will introduce for the first time indigenously produced industrial coolers and commercial products. We will get it manufactured at one of our third-party manufacturer partners.

Who will be your immediate target in commercial air-cooler segment?

Factories will be our biggest market. We also look to air-cool places of worship and even yoga complexes. We have done many of those including movie theaters in some states, workshops of premium cars, hospitals, schools, dormitories and all. The potential is huge.

Currently, there is no significant player in this category, hence, Symphony will have a first-mover advantage in this category too.

Amid this promising outlook, what lies ahead for the shareholders of Symphony?

The future is difficult to predict. But we are alert about shareholders’ interest in the company and how to bring best returns to their wealth. It is true that in the last one year, our stock has corrected by about 50 per cent, but that was primarily due to two factors — an overall correction of 30-60 per cent in the mid-cap segment and secondly, our own sales was weak.

Whatever is required internally, we are implementing changes and giving a brave fight. We believe that this is a passing phenomenon and we should be able to overcome this weakness. Only driver is that we will have to keep on innovating and be more aggressive.

Published on February 20, 2019
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