In Conversation With Sivakumar Venugopal Group Director & Member of the Management Board, NürnbergMesse India

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ES. What are some of the key factors driving the woodworking sector in India?
Siva. The key factors driving this sector include a shift in consumer preferences, a greater thrust by the Government of India towards the manufacturing sector, rise of E-Retail & Furniture rental and lastly a robust logistics infrastructure. Gen Z and millennials also play an important role as game changers for this Industry, given their increasing spending power, and their ability to influence older generations. India’s growth also means growth for the world at large, by having a correct service and product strategy in place, the country can indeed emerge as a world leader.

ES. How is NürnbergMesse supplementing the growth of this sector?
Siva. NürnbergMesse Group has been closely following the trends of the growth trajectory of the Indian furniture market while infusing its vision and strategy in the development of the events. One step in this direction was the acquisition of India Mattresstech Expo (one stop event for mattress and upholstery production technology, machinery and supplies exhibition), which was held for the first time parallel to India Wood 2020 in Bangalore to an encouraging response.

We are following industry dynamics very closely and you can expect more strategic associations and partnerships in the future which will further catalyse the sectoral growth. At IndiaWood 2020 we had visitors coming from about 981 cities across India viz a viz IndiaWood 2014 where we had visitors from 254 cities which is almost a 400% growth. As a show organiser in the B2B space, it is very important for those helming a project to have a shared vision with the respective industries and its stakeholders. Embrace the power of networking, meet customers, understand the nitty-gritties of their businesses, consolidate minds, accept feedback and finally deliver what the industry wants.

ES. What changes can be witnessed in the post-covid era?
Siva. The post-CoVID era has led to the adoption of newer smarter ways of operating, investments have been made in technologies of the future, while new partnerships and alliances are being explored. Furthermore, there is a major shift in the supply chain management system all over the world, which currently puts India in an enviable position as a potential manufacturing hub for the world. The adoption of Industry 4.0 has also been accelerated due to the pandemic as businesses realised the importance of the integration of modern technology with traditional methods to ensure an uninterrupted flow of work.

The initial few months of the pandemic created a havoc amongst manufacturers across verticals, and furniture manufacturing iwas no exception where the industry was largely depended on migrant workers from across the country. The disruption in workforce pushed manufactures to embrace automation and digitalisation which is expected to transform this sector drastically and at a faster phase. Obviously, this will also result in major job loss for unskilled workforce in the sector. Here, I would strongly advocate the industry to join hands with skill development council such as FFSC – Furniture and Fittings Skill council of India in upskilling our workforces so that they are not left behind in the quest for expansion and modernisation.

ES. What are some of the trends being seen across the furniture manufacturing Industry?
Siva. Furniture giant Ikea is accelerating its India expansion, the company opened its second India store on the outskirts of Mumbai in December and another in the southern city of Bengaluru is now on course to be completed soon. India’s lockdown helped bolster Ikea’s online business, which now accounts for 40% of total sales compared to about 10-15% previously. Furthermore India’s rental furniture and appliance market, dominated by the likes of RentoMojo, Furlenco, Rentickle, and CityFurnish, is now worth Rs33,500 crore, with top 20 cities accounting for 55% of the total addressable market, as per data from management consultancy Redseer. E-Commerce Giants like PepperFry, UrbanLadder, WAKEFIT, Homelane, Livspace, and WoodenStreet all have solid expansion plans in progress. All of these factors collectively augur very well for the woodworking Industry as it brings a certain degree of uniformity, internationalisation, better design aesthetics and quality enhancement to the forefront.

ES. Would exhibitions assume an enhanced significance in the coming time, given the current circumstances?
Siva. Tough times don’t last, tough people do. Reputations are built in hard times, not the easy times. Present times demand that we wear the ‘Hat of Hope’ and support one another.

We at NürnbergMesse are active and present. We are actively looking forward to serving our clients while keeping them and our people safe. I strongly believe that we are moving to a new paradigm, where purpose-driven brands will be in the best position to sustain, succeed and grow. If we are ready to embrace this shift in paradigm and see the potential to genuinely add value to the lives of our customers with a purpose driven approach, I am sure exhibitions are going to be really significant in a post pandemic world.