Puneet Gupta, Managing Director of Franke Faber India Pvt Ltd, was recently in Nepal to inaugurate four new Faber Platinum Studios in Kathmandu. Tamish Giri from New Business Age caught up with Gupta to talk about the Platinum Studios as well as the company's plan for Nepal along with Platinum Studios. Excerpts:
What was the purpose of your visit to Nepal this time?
We, Franke Faber, have been doing business in Nepal for the past 3-4 years, and it has been progressing very well. This visit was particularly important as we inaugurated four Platinum Studios in a single day in Kathmandu. The total count of Platinum Studios in Nepal now stands at 13, and these stores are state-of-the-art, and are as good as in any place you might find, perhaps even rivalling the best stores in Europe or New York. I wanted to assess the progress and the overall experience, and I'm pleased with the results.
How has Faber's journey been in Nepal?
Our journey began slowly and was further complicated by the impact of Covid. However, despite these challenges, we maintained a strong position. We initiated with one distributor and then expanded to two before eventually moving into direct store distribution. In the last three years, we've achieved a growth rate of approximately 50% CAGR, and we anticipate sustaining around 30% growth over the next 5-6 years. In the next couple of quarters, we plan to introduce the full spectrum of products available in India, including some modern offerings from Europe and the US.
Nepal shares historical, economic, financial, and political ties with India. Both Faber and Franke are well-established market leaders in India. There's a noticeable similarity in consumer behaviour between Nepal and parts of India. With penetration levels still low in Nepal and despite recent economic challenges, we see a promising future for our business in Nepal. We are aiming for nothing less than market leadership.
How do you believe your products suit Nepali homes?
Our chimneys are a prominent category for us and are especially suitable for places like Nepal and India, where penetration levels are not high. Perhaps the reason is that people don't see chimneys as a luxury nor do they see it as a necessity. However, this perception contradicts reality. Studies indicate that a significant percentage of asthmatic women develop asthma due to kitchen smoke. Despite being a necessity, awareness remains low. From an affordability standpoint, if you look at the number of people who own iPhones or luxury cars and you compare them to chimneys. Chimneys are less expensive than luxury items. It tells that the awareness level is low. People don't yet feel the need to have it as a must-have kind of product.
We're a 112-year-old company with patented technology. With our 3D and six-way suction technologies, our chimneys stand out. The core benefit of this category is effective smoke suction, and that's where we excel.
We also offer hobs and cooktops focusing on quality and safety, addressing issues like leakages. Our safety-first approach sets us apart. Our water purification systems include RO water purifiers, ultraviolet and UV plus UF systems, and under-sink RO solutions. Our product range covers air, water, and fire safety, especially within the kitchen.
Additionally, we provide built-in appliances, including ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, and refrigerators. We do have materials coming in from Europe also based on glass in terms of touch benefits, and aesthetics, all this is there. We also have sinks under the brand name Franke. We are the only brand in the world that gives a 25-year warranty on the stainless sinks. We've also introduced small appliances like mixers, juicers, sandwich toasters, and water heaters. Our studio will be a one-stop destination for quality kitchen solutions.
What products will the new Faber Platinum Studio have?
All the products that I mentioned earlier will be there. Platinum Studio is a studio that has a decent space to showcase our entire range. Our range is so exhausted that we actually need 10,000 square feet of space. So, in small and even big shops that don’t have large space for our category, you end up seeing 2-3 chimneys, and cooktops and that's it. In Platinum Studio you can have 30-50 chimneys and cooktops, and you can have a comprehensive range of all our products so that the consumer can come and choose. On top of that, the studio will give you a real-life experience of how our kitchen set-up will look and work.
So, that is the feeling these studios will give to the consumers. That is where the consumer understands the importance of the kitchen and of course, whenever we come up with a new product the first place to go is Platinum Studios. This time we have launched new models of chimneys and a few cooktops as well. Then all the small appliances that are relatively new including the water geysers.
What sets your kitchens apart from other brands?
Some consumers are going for local Chinese chimney brands because there is no proper brand that is working on understanding consumer needs and creating a product in their own factory. But in our cae, we have a 17-acre plant in Pune and a robust R&D team of 35 members. This enables us to tailor our products to meet specific geographic requirements. For instance, chimney length requirements differ between Nepal and India. in Npeal, the length requirement is 90 cm and about 90% of the market is this. In India, 30% of the market is 90 cm. Further, our appliances are built for longevity, lasting 10-20 years, and backed by a credible service network. With over a century of experience and a global service presence in 105 countries, our brand embodies trust and reliability.