Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems, a 115-year-old Indian company, is eyeing the Middle East. Godrej was represented at this month's Big 5 construction trade show in Dubai as part of its effort to build brand recognition beyond the Indian expat population. Shyam Motwani, the executive vice president of the locks division, explains the plan.
Godrej is synonymous with steel cupboards and locks in India. But in the UAE, where we have people from all over the world, how do you plan to spread the name?
That is one of the reasons for being at Big 5 - to promote awareness for the brand. It allows us to send out key messages to the end-user community within the UAE and not just the Indian diaspora. In the first three days [of the exhibition], we had 200 people walking in and of them, 95 were serious enquiries. Of these 95, close to 25 were already doing business with us. Around 17 come from countries around the region, where we do not have a presence, and the rest are from countries where we have a presence.
What would be your strategy for the UAE market and plans for capturing market share here?
We have a two-fold approach: target the retail segment and the project management segment, which includes large residential, commercial, real estate, hospitality, power distribution and healthcare promoters, or work with civil contractors. We also have to understand the door applications and trend here, where mostly metal doors are used, and introduce new products here according to the market. Advertising does not work as buying a lock is not an impulse-driven purchase. What we want to do is select a geographic location and do local activities in the region, and also influence the architects, interior designers, civil contractors and carpenters.
How much do you invest in research and development?
The target is 5 per cent of the revenues. Now, around 2 to3 per cent of the revenues are going into R&D. It is not adequate right now. Manufacturing and research are all being done in India and we will be there unless I make an acquisition in the United States or Europe. But nothing is in the cards.
Currently, Godrej has a presence in the UAE through distributors. What is your market share?
We have had a presence for over a decade in the UAE. And we have two distributors in Saudi Arabia and have a presence in Syria and Lebanon as well as in Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. It is difficult to gauge the market share in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region as there is no retail audit data available here. In terms of sales turnover, we expect to have US$3 million (Dh11m) from Mena for the year ending March 2013. For the UAE, the figure should be $700,000.
What are the growth plans of your division in the UAE and Middle East?
We hope to double turnover in the next three years.