Director, Parth International
Nikunj Agrawal started his entrepreneurial journey by establishing Parth International with his brothers and partners, Abhishek Murarka and Aditya Murarka in 2010. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Bangalore, a Diploma in Entrepreneurship from Ahmedabad, and a PG Diploma in International Business as well.
Tell us about Parth International and Featherlite in Nepal
The whole idea of starting this company was to bring the best quality raw materials and construction chemicals to Nepal for paint manufacturers. We started with stocking raw materials for paint and coating industry from Dow Chemicals, Akzo Nobel, Dupont, Huntsman, Iokal, Golchha Pigments to name a few because we found that the market was growing but manufacturers capacity was small and were unable to buy raw materials at competitive prices in large quantities. We also found lack of technical knowledge to grow the coating industry. Our main motive became providing quality education, technical services and raw materials from world renowned brands. All the above-mentioned companies account for top five positions globally in the raw material segment today.
I had personal interest and passion towards design and art as well. Featherlite Furniture I would say happened to become part of Parth International in an unplanned manner. Aditya Murarka and I were travelling to India and our flight got delayed in Delhi. We were going through an in-flight magazine at the waiting lounge of the airport where we saw an advertisement placed by Featherlite. Both of us started discussing about the potential and requirement of such brands and products in Nepal.
We joined hands with Featherlite for the Nepali market in 2014 with a motive to provide best quality and ergonomic office furniture along with complete designing and technical service to the buyer. We saw a huge potential for professional furniture which was the need for the new developing Nepal. We did our market research and found that our market was still dependent on low quality products from China or into carpentry. The major chunk was Chinese traditional Furniture which didn’t have any Ergonomic R&D and the life of the products was just 6-12 Months. We also found lack of technical and design knowledge in office furniture due to unavailability in the market.
We researched that buyers who wanted to have a corporate and modern office outlay had bulky workstations which wasn’t modular in nature made of solid wood and by carpentry. In some cases we also found they had to compromise with Chinese products which were made of very high quality MDF or wood powder Composite. These furniture didn’t have life at all. Design services were totally unavailable as such products were just one-time sale.
With Featherlite we strive for international quality, highest level of customer satisfaction, productivity, and value for money for our clients. We also strive towards creating modern yet functional and collaborative workspaces which is much required in a developing country like ours.
What sets you apart from the other companies in similar business?
Firstly, we don’t see Chinese and Malaysian furniture as our competition as they do not match with the quality that Featherlite has to offer. Secondly other Indian Brands available in the market that compete with Featherlite because they are Indian cannot be compared apple to apple as most of these brands do not have 100% manufacturing done in India unlike Featherlite. Only the hardware used in Featherlite is imported from the best factories around the globe. Other available brands are mostly assembled in India by importing parts and moulds from China, Malaysia and Thailand.
We have the capacity to work in any part of the country and have a complete team which delivers complete solutions from design to installation.
A Random Search of keywords ‘office furniture’ on Google will show 8,14,00,00,000 results within 0.64 Seconds The list of vendors includes everyone from MNCs to highly localised furniture manufacturers. With the outrage of the internet, keeping a tab on consumer market design trends is no more the biggest of affair for these vendors. The real challenge is to read between these trends and convert them into customisable, highly executable designs.
Hence the equation further boils down to experienced eyes that can decipher the trends and capabilities that can manufacture mind-blowing products. That’s exactly why it’s not difficult to recognise Featherlite, one of India’s leading and legacy furniture brands amidst the 8,14,00,00,000 suggestions from Google.
Incorporated in 1965, Featherlite provides complete office furniture solutions to all segments of the market through its strong base of direct and franchisee offices present across 62 locations in India, two locations in Nepal, Srilanka, Bangladesh and Dubai catering to a total customer base of over 150,000. Home to an impeccable center of excellence and in-house product design team that works in tandem, the company has been exemplary in the way it innovates to produce strictly pragmatic designs and customises the products to align with the space and utilities. We are talking about a bunch of ergonomic design solutions that do justice to the price. The company today is riding along a curve of diversification and in turn high growth.
When it comes to designing and selling office furniture, what is predominant: aesthetics or comfort and utility?
We create market and customer oriented designs as we cater to a large spectrum of customers. Our in-house design team takes care of all customer requirements in accordance with the trends and customisations. For instance there has been a paradigm shift in internal design offices. Currently desk based system is overtaking partition based modular designs. Around 80% customers today go for desk based systems which cost 15% less than partitioning in addition to further real estate utilisation opportunities. Work culture has become more collaborative in nature which we try to incorporate this aspect in our product designs.
Co-working and agile workspaces are today’s need and understanding how important agility is we discuss all possibilities with our customers and design their work place.
In truth, the important link between design and production is training people which is given high focus, covering facets like design understanding, production processes and more. We analyse each step very deeply in order to maintain and improve quality of our workmanship as well.
Featherlite was recently listed in SiliconIndia’s “10 Most Promising Office Furniture Providers”. What standards do you maintain to meet this kind of recognition?
The ambience of a workplace features a crucial role in the motivation, productivity, efficiency and retaining of employees. With today’s employee spending an average of over 10 hours per day within office confines, a large majority carp about the poorly designated furnishings that cause serious health-concerns, and is giving rise to the need for ‘work from home’ option. In response to this, several corporate establishments considered the option of ergonomics and subsequently reconfigured their interiors based on the ‘home away from home’ set-up.
Additionally, with the global work culture, the face of corporate furnishings struck a drastic transformation, moving from traditional work-centric cubicle farms to the current employee-centred open spaces, themed decor and ergonomic essentials.
Today the Indian office furniture sector gaits at a value exceeding $2.5 billion, accounting for almost 17% of the country’s total furniture market, with an anticipated projection of $13.58 billion by 2021. This would indicate a CAGR of over 20% over the forecast period. Gravely adopting the science of ergonomics, experts have emerged with several products that can cater to this huge and significant requirement. Ranging from stacking chairs, ergonomic chairs and other smart office system furnishings, the corporate structure has undergone major revolutions over the years with exclusive office furniture experts sprouting ever so often into the bigger picture of this vast furniture market. Tracing the fast pacing trends of this industry, SiliconIndia magazine has enlisted ‘10 Most Promising Office Furniture Providers – 2019’ that brings out top players who have redesigned and re-written the interiors and furnishings of the corporate decor based on employee-centric requirements. Additionally, designing on par with global trends well infused with prime essentials of the Indian corporate culture, the SiliconIndia editorial board followed a meticulous evaluation process in tune with the views of industry experts and acing MNCs.
Along with everything that we do our certifications speak for itself. Featherlite is a Green Factory, thus focusing on environmental friendly manufacturing process. Featherlite is a recipient of IS00 18 and TUV certified. Featherlite is also certified to be a lead free product. Featherlite is certified with Bifma platinum.
What is going to be new in the product line up soon?
Our furniture keeps evolving everyday according to the global workplace trends and requirements. We see addition of product lines every year based on the global market requirement and standards.
Currently Featherlite has been focusing on developing a complete range of laboratory furniture, educational furniture, auditorium seating, public seating, soft seating, sound proof furniture and sofas. Featherlite has also increased its workstation designs and range in the last year. We will be launching a new range of Featherlite products very soon in Nepal.