Sangeetha Chengappa

Premium office furniture major Steelcase Inc. is looking to tap a $200 million market opportunity in India for its ergonomically-designed office furniture line.

Since its entry into the India market in 2006, the $3.1-billion US-based company has witnessed high double-digit revenue growth rate, driven by demand from global in-house centres (GICs) of large multinational corporations and leading domestic firms.

“India with its $1-billion office furniture market presents a huge opportunity for our products, as the country will see the biggest addition to the white-collar workforce over the next few decades. This is why we set up a factory in Pune in 2013, to serve Indian customers better. We are investing in the factory by adding new space, new machinery and setting up warehousing capabilities,” Uli Gwinner, President, Asia Pacific, Steelcase, told BusinessLine .

Duty-free imports

During the company’s first phase of growth in the country, products were imported from Malaysia because multinationals in India had tax privileges that allowed them import duty-free products specifically from Malaysia, he said. While the Pune factory has the capacity to produce between 50,000-70,000 workstations or seats per annum, it still caters to only 50 per cent of the demand in India. Price points per seat range from $500 to $3,000.

Steelcase has opened Work Life Centres or experience studios spanning 6000-7000 sq ft in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and more recently, Hyderabad.

Asked if India is the company’s largest market in Asia Pacific, Gwinner said: “Both India and China markets are of similar size for us. In India, where our addressable market opportunity is $200 million, Bengaluru is our largest market followed by a second group of markets including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi. Bengaluru and Shenzen adds roughly 10 million sq ft of office space every year, which presents a huge opportunity for us.”