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‘Industry players need to assess themselves’

By Retail4Growth Team | June 27, 2019

Brands now have started to look at cost-effective solutions says Dovetail Furniture Co-founder & MD Sundar Subramaniam.

Sundar Subramaniam, Co-founder and MD of Dovetail Furniture Pvt Ltd, has been in the fixture business for over 30 years. In a chat with Retail4Growth, he talks about his journey, the challenges confronting the fixture industry and why a few companies are gradually diversifying their businesses. Presented below are excerpts from the conversation. 

You have been in the fixture business for over 30 years now. Tell us about your journey so far. How did you evolve based on the market requirements?

We started our journey in 1985, back in the days when retail design in India was in its initial stages. There were very few workshops that manufactured designs as per specifications. So, we decided to set up our own facility which would translate designs into actual forms as desired. Our first client, Weekender, came to us to Dovetail Furniture Pvt Ltddesign and manufacture a display system for their store that could enable the store to be fitted overnight. From there on, there has been no looking back. We went on to execute 50 stores for the brand and in the process learnt the basics of shopfitting. The next big thing happened to us was Levis, which came to India in 1994. We fabricated and installed the fixtures for their new Asia Pacific concept, which involved new processes that we had to source and implement. The next phase in our journey began when we got associated with Future Group in late 1990s when they were just beginning the journey. We did the Pantaloons first large format stores in Gariahat, Kolkata and Begumpet, Hyderabad which were about 15,000 sqft each and over the next decade executed a lot of projects for many brands under the Future Group umbrella.

The variation and challenge in work came with Asian Paints Colour World. For this, we designed shop-in-shops and went on to produce kits for over 1000 locations across the country.
Working with brands like Calvin Klein Jeans, FCUK, Puma, Debenhams and Marks & Spencer gave us a lot of exposure to global standards of shop-fit and the process of learning followed with the strict measures of quality standards, prototyping and approvals from these international brands. We started with both wood and metal and we never had a problem of being metal intensive or wood intensive. Anything we do is very brand driven and is very responsive.

Did cost ever become a problem for you with the premium brands?

In the beginning brands were willing to pay a premium for quality and reliable delivery, but now they have started to look more at cost effective solutions. In the 90s, till about 2009, cost was not such a big issue. For the international brands particularly, quality was the utmost priority. But now many brands are just looking for the lowest cost, and wouldn’t stay with us for very long if they found somebody more cost effective.

Read the full, detailed interview in the special Fixture section of the June 2019 issue of VM&RD.

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