Fixture manufacturers come together to rethink for the new normal
By Retail4Growth Team | April 23, 2020
India’s top retail fixture manufacturers shared their views, strategies and plans for a post-Covid market scenario at an interactive online session titled ‘Rethinking for the New Normal’ held on April 22nd, 2020. The session was organized by www.Retail4growth.com of VJ Media Works, and moderated by retail industry veterans Surender Gnanaolivu, Sr Consultant - Retail Experience, and Vishal Kapoor, Chief Design Officer - Future Group.
The virtual meeting on the theme ‘Rethinking for the New Normal’, a first of its kind for this category of manufacturers, served as an enabling platform to recognize common business and operational challenges, share good practices, brainstorm solutions for the new normal in a post lockdown phase.
The meeting had 10 invited leading names from the fixture manufacturing segment. The panel comprised Murali Balgar, Director - Disha Retail Fixtures, Ragesh Bhatia, Director - Renam Retail, Huzefa Merchant, Founder & CEO - Insync Shopfittings / Safe Enterprises, Manish Jain & Ashish Jain - Directors -- Shark Design, Ajay Kumar Gupta and Gourav Agarwal, Directors - Svarn Group- India, Manu Sharma, President -Instor by Kider India Pvt Ltd, Satvinder Singh, Managing Director - Satin Neo Dimension, and Amit Mohta, Joint Managing Director - Elemental Fixtures.
Surender Gnanaolivu set the tone of the discussion with a snapshot of the current status and challenges faced by the Indian retail industry and Vishal Kapoor stated key focus areas for the discussion to kick start a very interactive discussion that lasted for a little over an hour. Here are the key takeaways from the session, that addressed the issue of survival and doing business in the era of ‘the new normal’:
- Tread cautiously on diversification: With many new demands arising from the current market focus on healthcare, diversification is an opportunity that could be seriously considered. However, it would mean playing in an open field with many others from outside the fixture industry with a head start. It may be prudent to conserve capital and risks and focus on sustaining the business in the next few months to come.
- Focus on productivity and efficiency: Now is a good time to focus on strengthening streamlining all business processes to bring in greater efficiency and better productivity from resources. This would help keep operating overheads in check and helping significantly in sustaining the business.
- Look at a shift in business model from purely Service to Products: With the market not likely to look at the service of customized fixtures, it may be worthwhile to evaluate the need to manufacture for a catalogue of essential products in high demand during these time. This could bring down the idle time of resources.
- Develop local capabilities for products sourced overseas: With an expected drop in sourcing from traditional overseas sources like China, there is a huge opportunity for Indian resources to occupy that void. This is the right time to identify the gaps and develop products to match that demand.
- Repurpose resources to serve in areas of high demand: This is the era for collective efforts and collaborations. There is an opportunity to assess resources being employed with a company, look at opportunities to re-skill and redeploy them in areas of high demand. This will enable the lending of resources between companies within this segment and outside it.
- Invest in market research and data analytics: In times like this, it is critical for companies to understand the market to forecast and predict demand trends. It would make business sense for fixture manufacturing companies to develop resources internally to gather market and customer information and enable them to take strategic and tactical informed business decisions in tune with market trends.
- Create a Core Industry Group: These trying times are perhaps indicating a strong need for the fit-out industry to come together in an institutionalized body. This core group could lend an assertive voice to the industry to law, finance and governance authorities. The other big benefit is bringing together fragmented and unorganized industry together and ensuring the development and overall improvement in the quality of service and products.
The session ended on an affirmative note with near unanimity on the need for more such industry interactions to share common challenges, best practices and seek collective solutions for the larger benefit of the industry.