In Conversation with Mukesh Savlani, President and CEO, Welspun Flooring

Welspun Group

Welspun Group is a US$ 2.1 billion company. With a strong foothold in more than 50 countries, it has created a wide range of products for the bed and bath category. With a state of the art manufacturing facility spread over 300 acres and an investment of more than Rs 1150cr, the group has forayed into flooring business. Mukesh Savalani had been a part of Welspun family for more than 15 years, spearheading various divisions personally in Welspun group throughout his career.

Mukesh has strong Corporate Social Values and has led multiple social initiatives in Education, Environment and Health Empowerment. He has also played a pivotal role in Welspun India as well becoming the largest home textiles company globally over the years. He spoke with Vertica Dvivedi, Editor-in-Chief, SURFACES REPORTER about his journey, working and future plans.

Take us through your journey.

It all goes back to 2001. I am a textile engineer. My family has been in the textile business since a very long time. When I finished my engineering, Welspun was a growing company in the textile business. After I finished my engineering, I have to literally fight with my dad to allow me to work somewhere else for at least 6 months. I came to Bombay looking for any good opportunity. I had very specific things in my mind because I wanted to learn about business. I am from Ichelkeranji which is a small textile town near Kolhapur. So I knew well about manufacturing, raw materials etc., as I was working with my dad in my spare time. But I wanted to learn about the business so instead of picking up any opportunity in campus interview, I came to Bombay without any contact, looking for opportunities. I was lucky that Welspun happened at the right time and since then there was no looking back.

When I left textiles we were a billion-dollar company from 600 crores to 6500 crores. After 15 years of the journey, we grew almost 15 times.

Why this Shift from textiles to Flooring?

When I was in sales, there were almost 80 people working in my team and the age of any team in Welspun is around ten years. Welspun has a knack where people stay longer. It’s not the company where you would go and relax because there is a lot of energy in the environment like I said we grew 15 times in last 15 years. It creates an energy in you so that you want to grow in your life.

After 14 years of sales, when I expressed that I wanted to grow, add value to my portfolio and shape my career and grow holistically rather than just being a business leader, the flooring opportunity came. This was an unventured field for us. Welspun had businesses spanning from textiles, pipes and infrastructure but never flooring. But we saw the opportunity and went for it. I was entrusted with the conceptualization the business, setting up the factory and heading it. It has been almost 3 and a half year since I have started working on this project. Today we have realised one of our dreams of being one of the best manufacturing facilities in the flooring market. The next step now is to become a preferred choice for Indian as well as International customers.

We use 40 per cent less material in carpet tiles with a new technology that reduce the thickness without affecting the strength of the carpet.

Tell us about the research behind Welspun Flooring?

While we have moved ahead in the new build work, the flooring stays the same for years. I spoke to almost 1000 consumers in multiple cities in order to understand what they go through while renovating or building their house. I also have my experience of building my house where while contractors would commit to complete the work in two months and couldn’t complete even after six months before I literally kicked them out. There was no end to the work. That’s where we knew that we wanted to make this process convenient for our customers.

What is the status of Welspun Flooring post COVID-19 Lockdown?

It has been wonderful. We have already reached the Pre COVID sales figures.

What kind of acceptance is Welspun getting? Which regions are performing better?

Right now 85% of our installations are being done in less than a day. Hyderabad and Bangalore market were early adopter for us. Bombay and Delhi markets are also performing very well and Southern and Western region are doing much better as compared to the Eastern and Northern markets.

What have been your product and market strategies post-COVID?

We not only looked at manufacturing side, but also make sure that our entire supply chain right from the vendor to the dealers are COVID safe. For instance, few architects mentioned that it would be great if you can ship a pack of sanitiser along with every sample you send. So, we developed COVID safe packaging which can be removed and thrown away revealing a brand new package. One doesn't need to store it for 2 days to ensure it is safe.

On the consumer side, we have developed a touchless installation. To our surprise, the demand and likeness for the Welspun products went up during COVID. We are the only brand who is installing in less than a day that’s within 8 hours. We make sure about the safety of consumers as well.

What is better Project or Retail? Please reply in terms of Welspun performance.

It is almost 60:40 at the moment- 60 retail and 40 project. It will flip by the end of the year. We have around 600 dealer outlets across India currently, which by end of financial year expected to rise to 1200. We are mostly concentrating on the top 40 cities of the country. We are present almost every part of thr country from Delhi to Kolkata, Nagaland etc. We have trained about 2000 installers already. These are not on the payroles of the company but if somebody wanted company installers, there is an option available to them. We have about 50 installers from the company. By the end of this financial year, we will have 300 installers of the company.

Tell us about the Anti viral carpets from Welspun?

Essentially, these carpets kills COVID-19 Virus presnt on its surfaces within two hours. For this, we have partnered with a Swiss based company. The technology destroys the outer lipid layer of the virus so it wouldn't last anymore.

anti-viral-Best Flooring Manufacturing

The success rate of the project is 99.9%. Welspun is the only carpet flooring company in the world to have launched such product.

How digital technology can prove useful in flooring selection?

Now we are looking for the ways to ensure that the customer do not have to leave the house in order to choose the flooring. Today you can design your home from our website. We send the sales guy with physical pieces to your place so that you can make your selection from the comfort of your place. The sales person also will come in full body gear (safety equipments) to ensure maximum safety. Also, we have an Augmented Reality App so that you can visualize our flooring in your home environment. You can easily swipe through the choices by using the app and make the best selection.

What is the vision of Welspun flooring?

Being an export player, it feels great when 'Made in India' flooring is being sold in countries like the USA and UK. Today every 3rd and 5th Towels being sold in UK and the USA respectively are Welspun. Same goes with the sheets in bathroom. We are on to the same journey for flooring as well.

How Welspun selects new business ideas?

Welspun has never been a 'Me too' player. We always strive to become a leader in every business we venture into or at least be amongst the Top 5 in the world. We only see such vision while getting into any business otherwise we stay away from it.

What are the benefits of Welspun Flooring?

As the tiles stick to each other, there is no need for grouting. Hence the flooring is practically seamless. If you lay a marble design with Welspun tiles, the entire floor will feel like one marble. Also, just like the application, the flooring can be changed in a day also. It's like the furniture; you can take it with you. The flooring thickness is only 4 mm as compared to the 6-8 mm thickness of vitrified tiles. But we have polymer in our flooring to make it stronger like a 8-12 mm flooring.

In case of any damage, the replacement is also very easy You can simply detach it for that particular tile and replace it with a new tile and install it again. The entire design of the business model is around consumer convenience.

We are able to offer multiple designs and textures including wooden, marble, granite etc. We are also able to offer fabric, leather and Moroccan tiles textures. In our case, wooden flooring is 100% waterproof. In fact, in case your roof floods, you unistall our flooring dry it up using hair dryer or so and reinstall it again. That's our guarantee. While the flooring is completely DIY, you can also have our installers to install the flooring.

With this technology, there are so many things that can be done. The wooden flooring which in starting to pick up is now going down because Indian climate doesn’t allow wood flooring to stay longer it became mouldy, difficult to clean. And most of the wooden flooring is not actually wooden flooring but it is cheaper venyl version from China. After sometime we start seeing bubbles on it. In our case, wooden flooring is 100% water-proof. We guarantee no bubble will come no matter what. On top of it, even if your room floods, you can uninstall the flooring, dry it up either on the terrace or use a hairdryer and install it again

We also track the number of customers we are getting for renovation as compared to the newer construction. Around 90% of the flooring industry is for the newly built as compared to the 10% for the renovation as nobody wants to do the part flooring as it is a tedious job. For Welspun, we have made it to 45% renovation and 55% newly built.

Welspun Anti-Viral Carpets kill COVID-19 Virus presnt on its surfaces within two hours. For this, we have partnered with a Swiss based company. The technology destroys the outer lipid layer of the virus so it wouldn't last anymore. The success rate of the project is 99.9%. Welspun is the only carpet flooring company in the world to have launched such product.

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