Managing Director Future Research Design Company (FRDC Pvt Ltd.)
In Retrospect: 2012
Year 2012 has been generally good for us, compared to the previous years in terms of enquiries, projects finalization and overall design business. Whereas already established retailers and brands saw an early opportunity post FDI, new entrants also saw similar opportunities to grow and be seen as 'international' players. This led us to think 'Internationally' and have a closer collaboration with our international partners. As a company, we observed that Indian brands increasingly want to highlight their best and be prepared when foreign brands enter in a big way. This need is what drives our company to provide the right fitting solutions to these brands and make them 'internationally' ready. We invested in an international team at our India studio and office and forged long term relationships with international design institutes. Overall we have created a greater focus on 'Strategic' level design and consumer led initiatives.
Arrival of FDI
We expect FDI will be a slow mover in the first couple of years and so the opportunity from Indian retailers will still be significant. As we move on, more and more FDI bound brands and retailers will require local solutions and design adaptations /architectural services etc. We realize that we will be adding more teams for such jobs also within our organization in order to provide a 360 degree design solutions from one table. Large retailers will bring in money, things, knowledge and best practice. They will hire manpower from here. So initially, retail design and fit-outs will be a slow gainer but as the penetration of large retailers grows, their need for local fittings and design knowledge will increase. In the next couple of years, the fit-out industry will have a challenge on their hands to either increase their capacity and become 'world class' or 'only serve small retailers'. In order to match up to the global giants, the Indian design industry, which runs as a set of boutique firms led by owners, will need to change their approach. They will need to groom design talent, provide best training, use best specifications for projects, promote best quality and practice. My advice to them is: Don't undercut fee, say NO to unethical clients, don't design for free, design for sustainability, think much more of the staff than yourselves, provide best facilities and infrastructure to the team and have lots of fun while working!
Looking Ahead: 2013
Indian retail design firms will need to grow more in terms of capacity and capability. May be 10-20 people firms will need to grow to 30-40 people firms to cater to large retailers. Moreover, having multi-point service offices will help clients in a big way. Another key aspect would be to have systems of standardization in place so that international design systems can easily be translated to the Indian context.