Store Fit-Outs Look Home­ward

VMRD - - Contents - Sa­tarupa Chakraborty

While brick-and-mor­tar store ex­pan­sion is on a high, de­sign con­cepts are re­vamped more fre­quently to­wards bet­ter store ex­pe­ri­ence. Amidst this com­pe­ti­tion of stand­ing out, al­most every brand is opt­ing for unique fix­ture and light­ing de­sign. In­dian fit-out ven­dors to­day are in­un­dated with myr­iad guide­lines not only in terms of fin­ishes, de­sign and out­put but also in terms of set-up man­dates and other com­pli­ances. Is it giv­ing way to in­ter­na­tional ven­dors? Or, is it prompt­ing the In­dian ven­dors to up their game? What are the fac­tors that are fu­elling the growth tra­jec­tory? VM&RD talks to some of the lead­ing brands as well as some noted ven­dors deal­ing with fix­tures and light­ing, to find an­swers.

With con­sumerism grow­ing in leaps and bounds, In­dia has proved to be one of the most lu­cra­tive mar­kets in re­tail. To­day, along with nu­mer­ous In­dian brands and re­tail­ers, there are around 400 in­ter­na­tional re­tail brands avail­able in In­dia, where the cur­rent fis­cal has seen many global brands set­ting foot in In­dia. The sec­tor is fur­ther ex­pected to grow by 12 to 13 per cent an­nu­ally (Source : KPMG). The re­cent ap­proval of 100% FDI in Sin­gle Brand Re­tail has added much needed booster dose to pave way for more growth. Re­tail­ers, brands, both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ones, are ready­ing for ex­pan­sive store net­work while be­ing vig­i­lant to­wards the store en­vi­ron­ment they are of­fer­ing. New ma­te­ri­als and fin­ishes are mak­ing de­but into re­tail fix­tures while re­tail light­ing has come a long way wit­ness­ing LED boom to IoT to var­i­ous other tech in­no­va­tions.

The Home­grown Strength

Do in­ter­na­tional stan­dards win, when it comes to qual­ity? The dic­tum no longer ex­ists. Qual­ity in fix­tures to­day is de­ter­mined by com­bin­ing new ma­te­ri­als and achiev­ing unique fin­ishes and forms, whereas re­tail light­ing, keep­ing with the in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, is em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy much faster. Al­most 100% of re­tail light­ing used by re­tail sec­tor in In­dia is in­di­genised and sup­plied by In­dian sup­pli­ers, 75% of who use in-house light­ing de­sign ca­pac­i­ties in­clud­ing de­sign­ers and soft­ware. Adding to that, in­ter­na­tional re­la­tion­ships with world’s best light­ing

play­ers are strength­ened and about 8% of lo­cal pro­duc­tions are be­ing ex­ported to over­seas. In­ter­est­ingly, these ven­dors to­day are ac­tive parts of R&D prac­tices con­ducted by these brands & re­tail­ers and vice versa mak­ing it a seam­less process to achieve qual­ity.

Cost is one of the de­ter­min­ing fac­tors to why the na­tional brands as well as in­ter­na­tional brands are find­ing con­fi­dence in In­dian part­ners. As re­ported by them, it brings down the cost to al­most 50% vis-à-vis with in­ter­na­tional part­ners. The ex­tended af­ter­sale sup­port avail­able lo­cally makes the main­te­nance and op­er­a­tions al­most has­sle­free.

50% of in­ter­na­tional brands im­port their fix­tures and light­ing for ini­tial stores be­fore emot­ing them with lo­cal ven­dors. Op­er­at­ing in­ter­na­tional brands like Kate Spade, Bally, Ermenegildo Zegna, Ham­leys in In­dia, Re­liance Brands use In­dian ven­dors for 98% of their brands. Op­er­at­ing through ap­prox­i­mately 2000 stores for all its brands, Aditya Birla Re­tail & Fash­ion ltd (ABRFL) re­lies on In­dian ven­dors who ex­e­cute ac­cord­ing to re­tail IDs cre­ated by in­ter­na­tional agen­cies like Fitch etc.

Ro­hit Pa­tra, Head – Projects, Re­liance Brands

Ltd, said, “For ex­am­ple, Bally gave us the flex­i­bil­ity to achieve par­tic­u­lar fin­ish in In­dia but for unique spec­i­fi­ca­tions of ma­te­ri­als, we had to fi­nally im­port. How­ever, any­thing is pos­si­ble in In­dia and peo­ple who are good with fin­ishes are the key pro­fes­sion­als here. We go to the length of work­ing closely even with the peo­ple who are not tra­di­tion­ally fix­ture man­u­fac­tur­ers and we achieve de­sired fin­ishes through these peo­ple.”

Vol­ume mat­ters

Though the ex­pan­sive vol­umes have redi­rected most of the brands op­er­at­ing in In­dia to look home­ward, there are ex­cep­tions too. Fu­ture Group, for their brands like In­digo Na­tion, All, Lee Cooper etc, with store sizes span­ning be­tween 1000 sq ft to 2000 sq ft, choose In­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers. How­ever, when it comes to large for­mat en­ti­ties like Cen­tral and Big Bazaar, Fu­ture Group pro­cures 20% of fix­tures lo­cally while 80% comes from firms like China-based Sun­top and Mar­mon etc. For them, big re­tail spa­ces mean va­ri­ety and qual­ity. And, both of these can only be avail­able in bulk un­der one roof with in­ter­na­tional ven­dors.

On the other hand, less vol­ume has led fit­ness ma­jor Adi­das to re­sort to

in­ter­na­tional ven­dor like China-based IDX for some of their stores un­der “Home­court” con­cept , that amounts to be only 10% of the to­tal re­quire­ment. How­ever, with some in­ter­na­tional brands like Zara, Mas­simo Dutti, Aldo, Charles & Keith, even within the realm of ex­pan­sion, chose in­ter­na­tional ven­dors till date.

Vishal Kapoor, Group Chief De­sign Of­fi­cer,

Fu­ture Group, said “In large for­mat stores, our sourc­ing ca­pac­ity and in­ter­est in in­ter­na­tional ven­dors will be more. When we are deal­ing with store spa­ces mea­sur­ing to lakhs of sq ft, there are mul­ti­ple types of fix­tures. If we choose an in­ter­na­tional part­ner, ev­ery­thing is avail­able un­der roof that also en­sures high qual­ity. And, it comes cost-ef­fec­tive too, be­cause of sheer vol­ume.”

Show me the value

Satish Sharma, Head-Store Plan­ning,

Shop­pers Stop, men­tioned, “In­dian ven­dors are not only pro­vid­ing qual­ity at par, but also giv­ing end-to-end sup­port, not to men­tion bring­ing down the cost to al­most 50%. Af­ter we switched from CDMT to LED for light­ing, these light­ing ven­dors inched to in­ter­na­tional bench­mark much faster.” If we look at some of the re­tail light­ing firms, In­dian light­ing ven­dors are fast be­com­ing part of the league of IoT, auto dimmable con­cepts, LiFi etc. Mum­bai-based Brand Plus has re­cently launched spe­cial con­trolled light­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for MBOs, while Delhi-

based Ankur Light­ing has re­cently launched cus­tomised light­ing for out­door and in­door fa­cades, while Mum­bai-based Gardler Light­ing is strength­en­ing its in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ships with in­ter­na­tional lead­ers like Sin­ga­pore-based Lu­mileds and Ger­many­based BAG.

Vidya Sagar, Head – Project, Puma In­dia,

ex­plained, “Over a pe­riod of time, Puma has re­al­ized that noth­ing can be uni­form world­wide when it comes to de­liver a proper store ex­pe­ri­ence. For ex­am­ple, over­all lux level of light­ing in In­dian stores are much higher than many parts of the world. Hence, we de­cided to ap­prove cer­tain ven­dors in fix­tures and light­ing around the world af­ter ex­ten­sive au­dit to pro­cure the cus­tomised re­quire­ments.” Re­tail fix­tures play­ers to­day are im­port­ing tech­nol­ogy through in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ships and have started show­ing some per­cent­ages of ex­ports too. The qual­ity and fin­ishes to­day are so myr­iad that fix­ture in­dus­try has re­cently seen many new play­ers diver­si­fy­ing from other re­lated ser­vices. Many fix­ture man­u­fac­tur­ers are also in­te­grat­ing other re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence el­e­ments like light­ing, dig­i­tal sig­nage and tech­nol­ogy in re­tail fix­tures.

Apart from qual­i­ties and other ac­com­plish­ments, In­dia fit-out play­ers are also pay­ing close at­ten­tion to a num­ber of set up com­pli­ances, which are manda­tory be­fore serv­ing to most of the in­ter­na­tional brands. These guide­lines en­tail set up

and fac­tory man­dates, labour safety, sus­tain­abil­ity, green pro­duc­tions etc.

Amit Sheth, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Fo­cus Light­ing & Fix­tures ltd – Brand Plus, said,

“LED is generic but in re­tail, you need spe­cial LED that should fo­cus on the mer­chan­dises and add a whole new value to a re­tail en­vi­ron­ment. We are work­ing closely with this light­ing de­sign con­cern from Europe, Sch­weitzer and ma­jor­ity of our ef­forts go into de­sign, de­vel­op­ment and in­no­va­tions.”

Shankar Natara­jan, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Gardler Light­ing In­dia Pvt Ltd, said,

“Even 3-4 years back, In­dian ven­dors weren’t ready when it came to ap­pli­ca­tion de­sign dif­fer­ence, cus­tomiza­tions and tech­in­te­gra­tion. To­day, we have prod­uct de­sign­ers as well as ap­pli­ca­tion de­sign­ers on board to de­liver the most com­pre­hen­sive range.”

Man­ish Jain, Founder and Di­rec­tor, Shark Shop­fits, said,

“As for the qual­ity, we go to the ex­tent of go­ing to the last mile raw ma­te­rial sup­pli­ers. Slowly but pro­foundly, these brands have re­alised that postin­stal­la­tion man­age­ment and main­te­nance are much eas­ier with In­dian part­ners.”

Rahul Khetan, Joint Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, El­e­men­tal Fix­tures, said,

“We make huge in­vest­ments to­wards pro­to­typ­ing and R&D and we look at it as an in­te­gral part of our own upgra­da­tion.”

The sus­tain­able slew

The av­er­age age of re­tail light­ing com­pa­nies in In­dia is about 14 years mak­ing it a fairly young in­dus­try, while Fix­ture in­dus­try too has re­cently wel­comed young com­pa­nies, some of whom are diver­si­fy­ing from other al­lied ser­vices. To ex­plain the over­all growth for both the in­dus­tries, the for­mer in­dus­try is on an av­er­age and healthy growth of 40% while the lat­ter is all set to cater to the es­ti­mated ad­di­tion of about 15+ mil­lion sq ft of re­tail space an­nu­ally (from sur­veys done by VM&RD magazine). More fo­cus on R&D, in­te­gra­tion of tech­nolo­gies and in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ships will con­tribute to sus­tain­able growth pat­terns of the coun­try’s fit-out in­dus­try.

Pho­to­graphs cour­tesy Cen­tral, Puma and Re­liance Brands

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