New Delhi: When International Furniture Brands opened its plush 5,000 sq. ft outlet in Bangalore a year ago, one of the first few customers to walk in was a businessman from Davangere, a town located 265km away from Bangalore. The customer entered the store with his teenage daughter, who wanted furniture for her room. On his part, the middle-aged businessman wanted a classical look for the entire home. After spending close to five-six hours in the showroom, the businessman decided to opt for a classic hand-crafted furniture line for the living room, while his daughter settled for a more contemporary look from Fendi Casa.
Though Samvit Tara, director, International Furniture Brands Pvt. Ltd, was tight-lipped about how much money was spent by the Davangere businessman at the store, he added that such consumers were easily spending anywhere between Rs20 lakh and Rs1 crore, even more. “Luxury furniture as a segment is evolving in India. The consumer wants to experience all that the brands offer globally. We have to keep up with the demands,” said Tara. International Furniture Brands started 13 years ago when the company represented the line of furniture for Hurtado, a well-known furniture brand from Spain. Today, the company represents 30 high-end luxury brands in furniture, many of which are also globally renowned apparel brands.
Fendi? Check. Cavalli? Check. Versace? Check. And if all goes according to plan, Ralph Lauren, Armani and Valentino, global fashion brands, are also tipped to enter the Indian market in the next one year to dress up not just Indian wardrobes but also homes.
Consulting firm Technopak pegs India’s luxury market at Rs8,388 crore, of which 4% constitutes the home décor segment. The segment, according to Saloni Nangia, senior vice-president, Technopak, is growing by 15-18% annually.
Abhay Gupta, executive director of Blues Clothing Co., a New Delhi-based retailer of high-end apparel labels, agrees that it was the growth potential in the segment that prompted the company to venture into the home décor business. Blues Clothing is responsible for introducing the Versace range of furniture, including sofa sets priced at Rs14 lakh onwards and beds at Rs10 lakh onwards. For the premium price tag, consumers get snazzy designs in elements such as mother of pearl, leather, bronze, brass, premium silk fabrics, which are fused with wood for extraordinary effect. While Blues Clothing has invested Rs15 crore in the home business for starters, Gupta is confident that the home furniture business will grow to Rs100 crore within the next three years. Blues Clothing is also encouraging home-grown brands and offering home furniture and furnishings in sterling silver and Thai silk.
Those in the business feel the customers are definitely showing an avid interest in dressing up their homes. “We have created a space where products are targeted at well-travelled Indians who know trends globally and want the same replicated in their homes,” said Shabnam Singhal, director, Sirius D&E, which handles concept, leasing and marketing for The Gallery mall in Delhi, India’s first luxury furniture mall, with a sprawling space of 225,000 sq. ft. “I find customers who walk into the mall knowing exactly what they want. They don’t hesitate in spending Rs20 lakh on a sofa set because most of the time they walk in after taking a decision already,” said Singhal.
Sirius D&E, which specializes in doing exclusive projects for real estate developers in retail space, is already developing another luxury mall in Noida in partnership with real estate development group Logix Group. The 425,000 sq. ft space will house all the major luxury retail brands and have 100,000 sq. ft area of space dedicated exclusively for internationally renowned furniture brands. “A lot of luxury apparel brands— with dedicated furniture lines—entering India know that they can extend their offerings for the Indian market. We are creating space where different categories from luxury brands can coexist. So, a Versace apparel store could extend its furniture line to the discerning Indian consumer,” said Singhal.
While Singhal says her company is getting queries for developers wanting to have dedicated malls for high-end furniture, not everyone in the business feels the luxury furniture business is growing phenomenally. “It’s still the beginning but the expectations on sales are very high. There’s a rush to get brands into India, but we need to study the profile of the target consumer in India far more closely,” said Navin Ansal, co-owner of Casa Paradox, another furniture design label that’s launched Grantour by IPE Cavalli, and Baxter, two Italian brands of high-end furniture in India.
However, others such as Tara of International Furniture Brands insist that expansion plans for the brands are on track. The company, which already has a host of stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, is all set to launch three new stores by the end of this year. By mid-May, the company is launching its second store in Mumbai spread over 5,000 sq. ft of space. There’s another store planned later this year for Hyderabad too. “We are expecting a growth of 30% this year,” said Tara.