You Must Have a Gallery; There is No Excuse: Kalpesh Thakkar


Kalpesh Thakkar, leading laminates distributor from Ahmedabad and owner of Shree Ambeshakti Traders. In a freewheeling chat he spoke to Sandeep Lathhwal of BMR on the, scope and challenges facing by the industry, in a situation where the economy is showing signs of bouncing back from the pandemic induced emergency.

Sh. Kalpesh Thakkar, speaking on the demand rebound in segments, in general and particularly in and around Ahmedabad stated that since the lockdown was lifted in phases, demand is catching up to pre-covid levels and he was bullish about future prospects. There is an overall growth in demand of institutional as well as residential segments in Ahmedabad. He was particularly pleased at the infrastructure projects coming around Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. Segments like the high end and affordable housing segments as seen demands grow. 

 While Spiking on the future prospects of plywood laminates, He said that the industry will always look to innovate and get around problem areas, be it supply of raw materials or innovating new products as per market demands and changing tastes of customers. He said that the number of players in the market has increased and so has the bouquet of products to offer. HDHMR, New Wood are some of the products that have withstood the test of time. However, WPC boards have little market share, it has its own challenges - there is no big brand names attached with it, marketing is not up to the mark too. Similarly, MDF boards have not succeeded in carving out a big niche for itself in the retail segment. 

Speaking about the market for laminates Sh. Thakkar said that Gujarat has always being a hub for laminate manufacturing and market data shows that despite a few setbacks, this is an improving, growing segment. Every new product in this segment is a result of demand and subsequent innovation, say for example PVC laminates. Sh. Thakkar went on to say that although there had been attempts to manufacture PVC laminates elsewhere too. Speaking about PVC board, he said that green ply was studying the particular market demand of the PVC board before venturing into production.

When Sandeep Lathhwal of BMR asked about changing of users tastes and demands, Sh. Kalpesh Thakkar said that brand preference is higher in Southern Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, however there is little enthusiasm for branded products in Gujarat. We have established distributor presence in Bengaluru and Hyderabad; however, green ply's largest customer base is in Gujarat. 

Kalpesh Thakkar

Sh. Thakkar said that Greenlam's most popular product is the 1mm laminate board. He added that two Ahmedabad based distributors showed robust business and it is growing steadily. Sh. Thakkar said that Royale Touche has given some tough competition, however they follow a different business model. Sh. Thakkar said that Royale Touche was perhaps the first to introduce corporate functioning in the retail segment. 

Not willing to speculate on the volume of consumption in the Ahmedabad market Sh. Thakkar said that some are doing well while some established names may be lagging behind. Even some non-branded products are doing well. Speaking on demand Sh. Thakkar said that the 1 mm laminate head the demand chart. 

Talking of future trends and demands, Sh. Thakkar said that it was difficult to judge exactly, but branded companies introduced the 'textured' look sometimes in 2007 but even today that accounts for only 30 per cent of the products sold, solid colours and wood grains make up for most of the sales. 

Sh. Kalpesh Thakkar stressed on the importance of a product display gallery for those in the business of surfacing. It is so vital that almost all of the manufacturers have started it. If you want to display your product bouquet, there is simply no better way, "you must have a gallery, there is no excuse" Sh. Thakkar added. 

Speaking about targeted segments, Sh. Thakkar said that project sales have a niche of their own, however since the cost advantage of products on offer in laminates is very slim, that is not a factor that drives customer's choice. Sh. Thakkar said that despite the presence of a number of alternative products, the market for laminates is growing steadily. He was effusive in his praise for Greenlam on its stringent quality control.

Sh. Thakkar also added that although there are some application issues associated with laminates but no quality related issues associated with Greenlam. Pointing out Greenlam's pan India presence, Sh. Thakkar said that it throws up some challenges, as companies will often take a macro view of the issues of an area, depending on the feedback of its network of dealers and distributors. He signed off by saying that the business of laminates has expanded in scope and reach, as well as product portfolio and it is now a very level playing field.

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