San­jay Agar­wal

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.

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