Avtar Bhat, MD, Vitofloor
Vitofloor is a total flooring solution provider with a complete flooring collection that meets the modern day requirement for beautiful, durable and functional floors for residential as well as commercial settings. Vitofloor initially entered in the market of flooring with wall to wall and tufted carpets but today the product line ranges across laminate flooring, hardwood flooring, engineered wood floor, carpet tiles and other allied activities, all branched under the parent brand Vitofloor.
This diversity has enabled Vitofloor to become the choice of numerous architects and developers so as to increase the value of the end product and thus provide high-quality lifestyle. Vitofloor has always endeavored to continue to offer quality products and services using the best technology available and at a reasonable price. SURFACES REPORTER spoke to Mr. Avtar Bhat about the brand, the promising market and segments and future possibilities.
Tell us a bit about your journey? How did you start?
Well, I come from a very small place, in Srinagar. We have a retail outlet of flooring and furnishing there, that’s how it started, that’s how I’ve started. The first breakthrough was with a flooring company called Modi Carpets. Kashmir is a big market for floorings, especially carpets, because every home requires one due to the inherent climatic conditions in the region. At that time, during the 1980s, rugs were gaining momentum but in Kashmir, we required wall-to-wall floorings. With Modi Carpets we started doing immensely well and there came a time when I was considered the leading dealer of wall to wall carpets. Things changed over the years due to unrest.
The name Vito has been associated with an Austrian brand. Is it collaboration?
Our brand is called Vitofloor, and there was a company in Austria by the name of Vito, who we used to deal with but unfortunately that shut down. The inspiration and idea for the name originated from that.
You deal in Egger Laminate Flooring, but Egger does their own branding, so how do you deal with these kinds
We are the oldest channel partners of Egger in the country and certainly sell Egger as it is. Similar is the case with Junckers Hardwood Flooring, from Denmark, and Barlinek Engineered Flooring, from Poland.
What is the present scenario and the future you look up to as Vitofloor?
Financial Year 2017-18 has not been too great. Most of our customers are from real estate sector that had not been performing too well in the recent past. As a result that segment of our business has taken a hit but we are realigning out strategy to concentrate on other sectors.
So are you focusing on other segments?
We have subsequently changed our strategy and are focused on increasing our distribution/channel network across the country. Apart from that a lot of our effort now are on the commercial and hospitality segments. We are expecting FY 2018-19 to be better.
Still, you were able to maintain the pace of growth?
We certainly have tried our best in doing so. We try to be realistic in our approach and our strategies and for now, the markets have started moving in a positive direction. We are witnessing the constant improvement of infrastructure in the country and in a way we see that as a really good prospect for our work in the times to come. We are scaling up on our warehousing and stocking significantly and are even in talks with some of our partner companies for the same. With the increased stock levels it would give us greater leverage in commercial and hospitality projects, which has become a focus point for us.
So for Vitofloor, North is definitely the focal point, followed by South and Western region?
North is certainly the stronghold for us. Nevertheless, we are focused and constantly upgrading our South and Western centers. Apart from our central warehousing in Delhi, we have now built upon our warehousing infrastructure in Mumbai and Hyderabad to cater to the growing demand from their respective satellite cities.
How is the flooring consumption pattern in India, depending upon the type of products?
Today ceramic and marbles heavily dominate the Indian flooring market. It probably is due to the large availability of these products domestically. The products we deal in are predominantly imported from various countries. Carpets and wooden flooring, in my opinion, would make up only 6-7% of the flooring market. This is an extremely small number but still paves way for an immense scope. Wooden flooring consumption has significantly increased in the tier one cities across the country. It is now that we are witnessing a gradual upward trend in consumption of wooden floorings in tier II and III cities. Similarly, in the carpet, the consumption of wall to wall flooring used in the commercial sector has significantly shifted to modular carpets which has resulted in global manufacturers flocking into India.