With the government imposed multiple lockdowns and prohibitory orders, the pandemic mostly confined people to their homes. This extended period spent inside has served to change the trend and taste in home design with more people starting to pay attention to interior design.
Om Rajbhandary, executive chairperson of Brihat Group, says that prior to the 2015 mega earthquake houses for people were just about the design. “After the earthquake, people wanted stronger houses where they could feel safe,” he says, adding, “Now the covid-19 pandemic has shifted people’s attention towards the interior design of their homes.”
Brihat Group is one of Nepal’s pioneer real estate groups providing a one stop solution for all real estate needs, ranging from real estate consultation to construction. According to Rajbhandary, the only bit missing to complete the picture was the parts needed for interior design. To fill this missing part, Brihat Group started cooperating with the international home furnishing brand Danube Home in Nepal in 2020. This led to Brihat Group opening Danube Home Nepal showrooms in Tahgalli, Sundhara in Kathmandu around nine months ago.
According to the brand’s profile, Danube Home is an international home improvement and home furnishing retail brand. Founded in 2008, Danube Home aims to provide customers with high quality and affordable home furnishing products. Started with a single showroom in Ras Al-Khaimah, Danube Home has now grown vibrantly and strongly in the Middle East, Gulf region and Indian Sub-Continent.
Now in Nepal, Danube Home Nepal is a one stop solution for home décor with more than 25,000 living room, bathroom and kitchen products, including lighting accessories and greenery enclosures available under a single roof. They have also recently introduced the renowned international sanitary and bath fittings brand Milano to Nepal.
“Now, after collaborating with Danube Home, Brihat Group is a complete package for all the real estate needs,” claims Rajbhandary.
Although Danube Home Nepal products face competition in the Nepali market from other brands and available options, Rajbhandary claims that the concept of Danube Home Nepal is totally new in the country. “There is no competition in this concept so far,” he affirms.
In the space of just nine months, Danube Home Nepal has been receiving a positive response from customers. “People who knew about Danube Home were delighted to know about the brand’s availability in Nepal as well. The customers were happy with the fact that they could easily get the latest products found across the world here in Nepal, too, as per the trend and demand,” states Rajbhandary. He expresses that they were also excited to bring an international home furnishing and décor brand to Nepal.
Danube Home Nepal was launched at a time when the country was reeling under the first waves of the Covid-19 pandemic and hardly anyone was thinking about investing in any new business. “Although everything was uncertain and everyone was frustrated, we came up with the concept to bring this brand to Nepal thinking that it could give back something new and innovative to the market,” says Rajbhandary.
Selling the concept to people was their first priority. “We were aware that sales might not be like that of normal times, but as we wanted to build a brand and work for the long term, we took the risk to launch the franchise,” says Rajbhandary. He says the results were as expected.
According to Rajbhandary, the sales rate and customer footfall is also high. He claims that the conversion rate from customer footfall is 80 percent while marketing via word of mouth has increased their confidence. “This shows that people like the quality of our products and service and they have found what they were looking for,” he says.
Priority to Customer Satisfaction
The products of Danube Home are sourced from around 35 different countries such as the United States, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Italy, Spain, Turkey, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and China.
Each product is carefully quality checked before being dispatched to the outlets. “Furthermore, once we receive the products, we, too, check them before sending it to our customers. If any customer receives a damaged product, the company replaces the product,” says Rajbhandary.
“Our main priority is customer satisfaction. If there are cases of customers receiving damaged goods, we try to accommodate the customer in whatever way possible to satisfy them,” he states.
Since people have shifted to buying items online, Danube Home Nepal has also started an e-commerce platform. For the time being, Rajbhandary says that they are making deliveries only inside Kathmandu Valley. But soon they plan to expand delivery services to other cities as well.
In order to provide a high level of customer service, the company’s staff regularly undergo various training programmes. The staff are trained in product information, customer handling and delivery both physically as well as remotely.
The products at Danube Home Nepal are available at various prices depending on their quality, with better quality products being more expensive. “Our prices are quite reasonable and we assure that the quality of the products that we provide is up to the mark and getting a quality product at a reasonable price is the best deal,” says Rajbhandary.
In order to attract customers, part of their business plan has also been to provide different sales offers and discounts.
Growing Prospects for Interior Design
According to Rajbhandary, it used to be more expensive to furnish a house in comparison to buying or building a house. “But that has reversed now. House and land prices have increased hugely in the last two decades but the cost of designing the interior of homes has almost remained the same,” he says. As a reflection of the changing times, he says that there has been a change in the behaviour of people with home buyers becoming more conscious about interior design.
“During our parent’s time, furniture and the interior decorations were used lifelong or until they broke or were damaged. But nowadays, this concept has changed and now people change the interior at least every four to five years. So, it’s a growing market,” he explains.
Rajbhandary states that the home furnishing and design sector has great potential in the country but he cautions that getting into this field without the proper study and planning might be risky.
The company is, at present, Kathmandu centric. However, they plan to expand their services outside Kathmandu valley. Within five years, Danube Home Nepal plans to open 10 outlets across the country. According to Rajbhandary, they have plans to open more outlets within Kathmandu valley by 2022 or 2023 at the latest. He further states that they are going to open their first exclusive store of Milano in the valley as well as putting in place a nationwide distribution network.