Guwahati, Aug. 19: The urban home furnishings retail sector in the Northeast has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to growing consumer awareness and subsequent demand for quality foreign and domestic brands that have entered the market in the past couple of years.
The home furnishings market in the region, those in the know say, has a potential to grow to one with a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore in about two years. As of today, the sector (both organised and unorganised) is just a fragment of the countrywide market, which is close to Rs 20,000 crore.
From an exclusive range of upholstery, bed and bath linen to wooden and vinyl flooring, carpets to mattresses, drapery rods and blinds, there is a lot happening in the interiors of homes. The trend has been apparent in the past couple of years with the best of international brands now available in cities like Guwahati and Shillong.
Retailers here attribute the drift to awareness, a greater purchasing power and more importantly, the apparent boom in real estate. A liberal foreign policy, too, has encouraged foreign investment and thus resulted in competition between the multinationals and the domestic market.
“An increasing number of consumers are seeking complete home solutions under one roof. Given the situation, segments such as home textiles, home decoration and houseware are integrating into a new single category,” Siddharth Jalan, the chief executive officer of Sohum Shoppe Ltd, said.
Sohum, which had earlier this month added a furnishing and furniture store, Home@Sohum, in its repertoire, is eyeing a market share of Rs 100 crore in the next 18 months.
“The market has a potential to touch the Rs 1,000-crore mark in the next couple of years and we intend to clinch at least 10 per cent of it,” he added.
Sohum deals in brands such as D’décor, Dicitex, GM, ABN, Hands, Portico, Spreads and Maishaa, among others.
From Italian brand of wall frescoes to stunning range of fine wooden furniture created in India for overseas brands like Crate & Barrel, Pier Imports and the like, the choices are mind boggling.
At the recently-opened Home Treasury owned by entrepreneur duo of Jahnabi Phookan and Jesmina Zeliang, the idea is to “think global and buy local” with a stunning range of fine wooden furniture created in India for overseas brands.
Vinayak Furnishings at Lachit Nagar boasts of a collection of over 100 domestic brands and as many as 24 international brands such as Russel & Harvey, Destiny, Reynaldo, Thibaut, Jim Dickens, Dizz Design, and of course, Affreschi, an Italian brand of wall frescoes that start from Rs 2.25 lakh.
“Over the past three-four years, there has been a good demand for home furnishings, particularly upholstery. I would attribute this trend to a greater level of awareness, thanks to satellite television, and of course, the Internet. Western trends have influenced people of the region, and of late, the taste as to how they decorate their interiors is there for all to see,” Sumit Jain of Vinayak Furnishings said.
The price per metre of an international fabric ranges from Rs 2,500 to Rs 30,000.
Italian brands, which are known throughout the world for their quality in style and elegance, have found the Indian market especially appealing.
Over the years, cheaper China-made furniture has slowly sneaked into the Northeast market. However, consumers have over the years gone for quality, reasonably priced products as opposed to showy imported brands.
“Instead, the majority here are making a trade-off between branded and locally made home décor items. Customised, quality and durable products are being preferred to cheaper furniture imported from China. Price is playing second fiddle to quality,” said Suman Kumar Borah, an interior designer.
The warranty factor, too, matters for consumers here. Borah, who owns Home Style, an exclusive showroom of designer furniture at Lachitnagar, said, “After-sales service matters. A consumer would be inclined to go for a locally manufactured item that has a warranty tag than a foreign brand with no assurance.”