Business Today

What's cooking?

A booming economy means big business for premium kitchen brands, says Anumeha Chaturvedi.

Anumeha Chaturvedi        Print Edition: April 17, 2011

Nergish Udwadia swears by Poggenpohl. The iconic German kitchen brand has been in India since 1988, but Udwadia first heard of it in 2001, while travelling abroad. "My friends there raved about their spick-andspan Poggenpohl kitchens and I was impressed. The kitchens looked hassle-free and were easy to maintain," recalls the Mumbai-based retired English professor. On her return, she decided to splurge Rs 8 lakh on a Poggenpohl kitchen. "Even after 10 years, it looks as good as new. The design, look and quality are great. When I heard about its life-long warranty, I laughed it off. But I realise it is true," she adds.

The likes of Udwadia are driving Poggenpohl's success story in India. Established in 1892, Poggenpohl is the world's oldest furniture and modular kitchen brand. The company has made a quick comeback after the 2008 slowdown and attributes the recovery to its successes in emerging markets like India and China. In India, it has been growing at 40 per cent year on year since 2008 and posted a turnover of Rs 18 crore in 2009/2010. "Customers and interior designers are moving away from carpenter-made cabinets to modular options," says Rati Sharma, Managing Partner, Poggenpohl India. The company has three stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, and plans to open two more - in Hyderabad and a second one in Mumbai - this year. The new store in Mumbai will also be the world's first to showcase the Poggenpohl-Porsche range. The brand tied up with Porsche Design last year to launch a kitchen range targeted at men, priced upwards of Rs 1 crore.

Poggenpohl may have been the first foreign kitchen brand to enter the Indian market, but it has plenty of competition today. Rising consumerism and disposable incomes are leading the demand for premium kitchen products. The size of the market in India is estimated at $45 million or Rs 207 crore by global real estate services firm Jones Lang Lasalle. Weber, a premium US brand specialising in charcoal grills and accessories, set up its Indian arm in 2008 and works with a 100-strong distributor network. "Our turnover has tripled in 2010/2011 from Rs 1 crore in the first year," says Managing Director Sivakumar Kandaswamy.

Miele, a 111-year-old German brand, came calling in October 2009 and is already eyeing an annual turnover of Rs 100 crore by 2014. "We hope to grow at 25 per cent for the next 10 years," says Managing Director Dhananjay Chaturvedi, sitting in Miele's 8,500-sq-ft Experience Centre at Jasola in Delhi. Miele, whose clients include corporate and political biggies, including the muchmaligned A. Raja, manufactures a wide variety of kitchen appliances.

The MasterCool collection that includes freezers, fridges and wine conditioners is the most expensive range from Miele, and a combination of all three would set a buyer back by Rs 23 lakh. The range boasts features like dual-cooling system and touch controls. Miele has 13 touch points in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, and plans to expand to 24 this year.

 Turning on the heat

Competition among leading global brands is hotting up in India.

Poggenpohl: The oldest brand in the world, it specialises in modular kitchens

Miele: The German luxury brand sells both built-in and free-standing appliances

German building technologies: Importer and supplier of kitchen furniture brand Siematic

Top products India pvt ltd: Authorised partner and distributor of kitchen brands Bulthaup, Sub-Zero and Wolf

Veneta cucine: Renowned Italian brand which specialises in fi tted kitchens

Weber: Premium American brand specialising in charcoal grills and accessories.

Other worldwide players like Veneta Cucine, Bulthaup, Sub Zero and Wolf are ramping up presence via tie-ups with local dealers and master franchisees. "Luxury projects and development initiatives present a huge opportunity for such brands," says Berty Tarrab, Managing Director, Top Products India. Set up in 2010, Top Products is the authorised partner and distributor of Bulthaup. It also sells Sub Zero and Wolf products in Mumbai and Delhi.

Ravi Dutta, CEO of Delhi-based German Building Technologies, a building and housing accessories importer, says, "Rising incomes and growing confidence are making people move to premium products. The high-end appliances and furnishings space is clocking a 45 to 50 per cent growth." The firm, a master franchisee of high-end fitted kitchen maker Siematic, is registering a growth of 120 per cent in enquiries.

Tie-ups with real estate developers and hospitality chains also bring business to these brands. While Top Products counts Grand Hyatt Goa and Lodha Developers's Signature One as its chief projects, Miele has tied up with M3M India and Tata Prive for their Gurgaon and Lonavala projects. "About 50 per cent of the business of our Asian subsidiaries is likely to come from such projects," says Chaturvedi.

All the brands take pride in their European heritage and the longevity of products. "Every Miele appliance is built to last a minimum of 20 years," says Chaturvedi. Poggenpohl also claims similar standards. "We have set a benchmark in kitchen design and innovation," insists Sharma. The purchase, delivery and installation process takes two to three months, but for customers like Udwadia, that is no deterrent. "Their service is fantastic. It seems like the easiest thing to order," she says. For the sake of Poggenpohl, and others in its league, here's hoping others agree.

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