Ex­porters deal­ing in home lux­ury fore­see a bright fu­ture de­spite global slow­down

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For the forecast pe­riod of 2015-2020, the global home dé­cor mar­ket reg­is­tered a CAGR of 4.2% and is ex­pected to reap in US $ 664 bil­lion by 2020. A large chunk of this mar­ket is at­trib­uted to the lux­ury mar­ket, wherein brands like Ralph Lau­ren, Ar­mani/CASA, Nina Camp­bell, The Fu­ture Per­fect, Zof­fany are lead­ing the band­wagon with their in­no­va­tions in fab­rics and de­signs, mar­ket­ing tech­niques and steady growth in past few years.

Though the US and EU mar­kets are go­ing through an all-time slow, the lux­ury seg­ment, which ac­counts for 9.6% of the home dé­cor mar­ket re­mains largely un­af­fected. Indian ex­porters in this seg­ment are mostly con­nected with the val­ueadded lux­ury or high-end mar­ket, with a smaller por­tion ded­i­cated to ba­sics. Ac­cord­ing to trade data of past two years, the ex­port of cush­ion cov­ers from In­dia has seen a growth of 6.67%, like­wise car­pets and rugs ex­port have seen a growth of 9.05% and quilts and other bed­ding items have grown by 5.38%. The beds and linen seg­ment cur­rently dom­i­nates this mar­ket and ac­counts for around 33% of the to­tal mar­ket rev­enue.

The global mar­ket de­mands a wide range of hand­work, 3-di­men­sional em­broi­deries and new­ness in sur­face and fab­ric tex­tures when they look at Indian ex­porters. In­no­va­tion in fab­ric tex­tures, hand em­broi­deries on lux­ury items such as pil­lows, tow­els, du­vets, rugs and quilts are what ex­porters con­stantly work at. Chan­drika Thatai, Co-founder of Fash­ion Ac­ces­sories, Gur­gaon shares, “We are see­ing growth in the global lux­ury mar­ket for unique and lux­u­ri­ous home dé­cor, though there’s a dip in usual FOBs in past years that also de­pends on cus­tomer-to-cus­tomer.” The com­pany, of­fer­ing du­vets, quilts, com­forters, slip­cov­ers, dec­o­ra­tive cush­ions, drapes, scarves, throws, ta­ble linen, kitchen linen as well as Christ­mas prod­ucts, has many pres­ti­gious clients like Zara Home, The White Com­pany, Wil­liams Sonama and many more.

Most global play­ers are keep­ing the in­ven­tory line rather small due to the slow­down. And for Indian ex­porters, there is a stiff com­pe­ti­tion with neigh­bour­ing coun­tries like China, Pak­istan and Bangladesh, so ex­porters are in­creas­ingly cap­i­tal­is­ing on the coun­try’s core strengths like cot­ton, em­broi­dered hand­work by lo­cal ar­ti­sans, prints and other lo­cal tech­niques to stay rel­e­vant.

An­other ma­jor player in the seg­ment, Sarita Handa Ex­ports, Gur­gaon also stresses on the im­por­tance of Indian tech­niques. “The prod­ucts from China are more ma­chined, while Pak­istan ap­pears to have

gained pop­u­lar­ity with prints. In­dia is cap­i­tal­is­ing on the hand­work of the ar­ti­sans into most things for added value,” says Sarita Handa, Owner whose la­bel trans­late the art of Indian needle­work into global style in­spi­ra­tion for their cus­tomers and pi­o­neers in hand em­broi­dered linen and tex­tile. The com­pany boasts its sig­na­ture em­broi­dery and tex­tile as in­no­va­tion has led it from be­ing an ex­port house to a lux­ury re­tail brand. It also sells to ma­jor re­tail­ers around the world like Pot­tery Barn, Ma­cys, Ethan Allen and Bloom­ing­dales to name a few.

On the pos­i­tive side, value-added in­no­va­tive prod­ucts are al­ways in de­mand; and ac­cord­ing to most of the man­u­fac­tur­ers, the profit for buy­ers’ lies in be­ing ahead of the rest of the mar­ket so that the only thing they are look­ing for is unique prod­ucts. The in­no­va­tions that man­u­fac­tur­ers are tak­ing into ac­count are fab­ric, tech­niques and de­signs. In fab­rics, not only cot­ton, which has been an age-old of­fer­ing but also a mix of cash­mere-cot­ton, bam­boo cot­ton, silk with cash­mere, linen with cash­mere are be­ing of­fered to the buy­ers. For cush­ion cat­e­gory, they look for wo­ven, vel­vet fab­ric as well as value ad­di­tions like the pom pom, frills, trims and more. “The buy­ers in lux­ury seg­ment are look­ing for new­ness, more Indian tech­niques, hand­work and craft which they can­not find in China,” says Rak­shit Pod­dar, Owner, Cheer Sa­gar Ex­ports, Jaipur, which has ex­per­tise in em­broi­dery and em­bel­lished prod­ucts. He fur­ther adds, “The over­all mar­ket con­di­tions af­fect us, so we can­not de­pend on one mar­ket. We have dif­fer­ent mar­kets so that if one mar­ket slows down we have other op­tions to keep the fac­tory run­ning.” No doubt, search­ing out new mar­kets for lux­ury prod­ucts is also help­ing ex­porters to grow.

“The con­di­tions are not per­fect in in­ter­na­tional mar­ket right now and we grew only 7-8% last year, lower than the ex­pected 15%. How­ever, we are grow­ing in dif­fer­ent seg­ments in new mar­kets like Aus­tralia, Mid­dle East, New Zealand, and South Africa. I am hope­ful that in the next 2-3 quar­ters, there would be a dras­tic de­mand from the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, as re­tail is pick­ing up,” says SM Dwivedi, CEO, Sara Tex­tiles, Noida. The com­pany is a lead­ing ex­porter of tow­els and boasts its value-added prod­ucts in dif­fer­ent washes, prints and dye­ing.

The US and EU mar­kets be­have dif­fer­ently; so, while Europe is look­ing for bet­ter de­signs, cheaper prod­ucts and ex­otic fab­ric, US is more into cleaner look with fo­cus on qual­ity and dura­bil­ity. The dif­fer­ent tastes and buy­ing be­hav­iour of these mar­kets also af­fect the forecast, trends and the over­all busi­ness due to which the ex­porters have to rely on their gut feel­ing to get an up­per hand. “When I speak to buy­ers, there are many sit­u­a­tions where I can sense that there could be a slow­down in a prod­uct or cat­e­gory, and in­no­va­tion to en­tice them to place an or­der which is the only an­swer to these things,” says Aman Dhin­gra, Vice Pres­i­dent of Gur­gaon-based Ori­ent Craft that has 80% of to­tal home fur­nish­ing ex­ports in the high-end seg­ment. He fur­ther adds, “For in­no­va­tion, we are look­ing at a lot of fab­ric engi­neer­ing – blend­ing the fi­bres, spin­ning them to­gether so that prod­uct is cot­ton but with an ex­otic twist to it.”

With a grow­ing global trend of ecofriendly fur­nish­ing, sus­tain­abil­ity is get­ting more im­por­tant for in­ter­na­tional buy­ers. Nowa­days buy­ers look out for or­ganic, biodegrad­able ma­te­rial. On the other hand, man­u­fac­tur­ers be­lieve that sus­tain­abil­ity is not just about the fab­ric but craft as well, in the buyer’s eye. Ravin­dra Nath, Di­rec­tor, Ocean Home Store, Jaipur, which sup­plies bed­dings and cush­ions to home fur­nish­ing giants like, An­thro­polo­gies and Ralph Lau­ren, em­pha­sises on sus­tain­abil­ity. “Sus­tain­abil­ity is very im­por­tant for our buy­ers. They watch the en­tire sup­ply chain; where and how the prod­uct is pro­duced, in­sist on us­ing of dyes and chem­i­cals that are less harm­ful to the en­vi­ron­ment. They are very trans­par­ent at ev­ery stage of pro­duc­tion and very help­ful too. They pro­vide us with their own di­rec­tions and we give them sus­tain­able val­ueadded prod­ucts,” he says.

Many ex­porters are of the opin­ion that Govern­ment poli­cies and tax­a­tion are giv­ing their busi­ness a hard time, but those are is­sues that will only be re­solved with time. Kiran Pan­chal, Di­rec­tor of Bom­bay-based Am­ber Homes, which is ac­cred­ited by Wal­mart for its home tex­tile and fin­ish­ing and makes a ded­i­cated ef­fort to ap­ply green con­cepts, aptly con­cludes: “The slow­ing down of China’s sit­u­a­tion and with the grow­ing im­port in EU and US, as well as the new emerg­ing mar­kets, points at a brighter fu­ture for the lux­ury seg­ment. In com­ing times, the global mar­ket is go­ing to be much wider for the lux­ury home fur­nish­ing play­ers and com­pe­ti­tion will be less for those who abide by their in­no­va­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity.”

SM Dwivedi, CEO, Sara Tex­tiles

Sarita Handa, Owner, Sarita Handa Ex­ports

Dis­play at Cheer Sa­gar Ex­ports

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