Mr Vidush Somany, Executive Director, Cera, took over the reigns of Cera in the year 2004 immediately after his graduation in Business Administration from Franklin & Marshall College, USA. He has ensured consistent growth and is now steering Cera to be the country's largest and most successful home solutions brand. Under his leadership, Cera has charted an aggressive growth plan to achieve a turnover of Rs.5000 million from the current Rs.2000 million. He has been honoured by Gujarat Institute of Civil Engineers and Architects and AIM with the Nirman Ratna award for his and Cera's contribution in the field of construction.
Cera Sanitaryware Ltd, was launched in 1980 and is a pioneer in the sanitaryware segment in India. The first sanitaryware company to use natural gas, Cera has been on the forefront of launching a versatile colour range and introducing the bath suite concept. Based in Kadi, Gujarat, Cera Sanitaryware Ltd. uses International technology. Established with an initial capacity of 3,600 MTPA, the plant has undergone several periodical upgradations and modernisations to expand to 25,000 MTPA.
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Vidush Somany says, “The size of market for Sanitaryware is estimated close to Rs.15‐18bn. We are the third largest in the organized sector and have consistent market share of over 21% for the last few years.”
Are aesthetics gaining more importance?
Yes we agree. Aesthetics are gaining more importance. Designs & looks with added comforts in functionality with `Value for Money’, ‘Responsible attitudes towards end users and dealers’ are some of the differentiations customer appreciate. This is more for home though commercial complex do not lag far behind if cost is not a major constraint.
Do you see Indian customers willing to pay a price for this?
Price is a one of the major consideration in Indian context and plays an important role in any decision. The trend is definitely changing towards better looking and quality products.
You are expanding and entering the CP fittings(faucet ware) range. Tell us more about this market.
We have been servicing the market with quality outsourced product for last few years under our brand name CERA”. We, thus have test marketed business. The market is fairly large and can be estimated around Rs.35bn. We have now entered the faucet ware market with our own manufacturing facilities at Kadi in North Gujarat. Our current capacity and market share is only a fraction of this large sized market. This leaves a good scope for expanding the capacity with credible brand like `CERA’
Which are some of the geographies you need to tap now?
We have a national presence. We are planning to have strong foothold in North‐east and Central India. Besides, we are eyeing an increase in our share in southern states like Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
What is the market size for your range of products in India?
The size of market for Sanitaryware is estimated close to Rs.15‐18bn. This is divided more or less equally between organized and unorganized sectors. We are the third largest in the organized sector and have consistent market share of over 21% for quite a few years. The same is increasing for us as witnessed by our Balance Sheet and revenue figures with rising CAGR during last five financial years.
What are the further triggers for growth in India?
In our industry people both for residential and commercial properties are now exposed to western / developed countries and are demanding a certain quality but at reasonable price points. The growth in real estate industry and the changing profile of the Indian consumer makes this a very exciting time for the sanitaryware and faucetware industry.
What is your current market share in each segment? What efforts are you making to improve the same?
We command over 21% market share in our core business of sanitaryware. We have just begun in the faucetware business. We aim to increase our market share by offering better products but at reasonable price. Our efforts comprise better cost management, better and newer designs with consistent quality standards.
Brief us on your product mix and new marketing strategies?
These are market driven and mostly based on consumer taste and preferences. Responsible attitude and consistency with all product offerings as `Value for Money’ are some of the strategies we adopt.
You had the advantage of direct connection of natural gas from GAIL. Comment on your power requirements and how is it being catered to?
Yes we do have advantage of getting the Gas from directly from GAIL. Almost entire energy for running the Kilns is met with gas from GAIL currently. The situation may not be same for expansion and will have to look at alternatives. We have been able to tie up successfully. We are in the process of working exact % of how much we will have to depend on alternatives.
What are some of the important tie‐ups you have at present?
We have a good tie up with Chinese suppliers. This is for premium sanitaryware. We are at fairly advance negotiations for sourcing premium faucetware. All these products are manufactured under strict quality standard set by CERA and carries CERA brand name.
How are the Cera Bath Studios doing?
Very well. ‘Cera’ is pioneer and response is extremely good
Earlier, you were active in products like twin‐flush model. Any similar offerings now?
Snow White is another dazzler from Cera, it stands out amongst the products in its category with unique whiteness This product has won both the consumers and the critics.
Comment on your premium vitrified floor tiles. Which other segments do you plan to enter?
Our core business is sanitaryware and faucetware. We are not serious in floor tiles business. We do not cater this segment in any significant ways. Our presence is very negligible.
What are your Capex plans and how would they be funded?
The three-year capex plan starting from FY 2010‐11 is close to Rs1bn. This is for expanding sanitaryware capacity to 2.7 million pcs. p.a. as well as putting up a state of art faucetware plant of 2500 pcs per day scalable to 10000 pcs. per day.
The entire capex is being funded largely with internal accruals and balance would be with support from our bankers.
Give us some details about your plants and their capacities.
The entire manufacturing facilities are located at Kadi District Mehsana North Gujarat. It is around 50 km from Ahmedabad on Ahmedabad – Mehsana highway.
In Sanitaryware we do 2mn pieces a year. However, this depends on product mix. This is being Increased to 2.7mn pieces per year
In Faucetware, currently, 2500 pieces per day. It is scalable to 10,000 pieces per day
Comment on your margins? Do you see any improvement? What would lead to an improvement?
Our margins have remained comparable with industry standards or are even better. Management always strives to achieve higher. Better cost management and better price realization are basics for improving margins. Management continues to make serious endeavors in both these directions.
What are the entry barriers? What about competition and the unorganized market?
Brand building and setting up of distributions network across Pan India are major costs. The industry has high capex, stringent process parameters and one needs to invest in the right technology.
CERA uses technology from Germany, Italy, UK and Australia, adapted to suit Indian conditions. To what extent has it helped boost your offerings?
These technologies are proven across the Globe. This are easily adaptable to suit Indian conditions. Our offerings comprises of own manufactured goods using Indian raw materials with European technology and outsourced premium sanitaryware from China using superior china clay as raw material having price advantages to end users.
This combination, to a very large extent, has helped us to boost our Brand Image and recall of all our products.
What is the demand in the replacement market?
The potential is huge with good margins. However, currently this is not a focused area as we need different strategies to cater to this segment.
Brief us on your international presence and exports?
Sanitaryware is a bulky product. Cost of freight becomes major barrier. Besides this, in developed countries, some of the international brands like Kohler, American Standards, TOTO, Duravits etc have better acceptability. Our exports largely is in Gulf and in African countries. Total exports do not exceed 5 % of our sales
Any inorganic growth plans?
We are always open for inorganic growth.
What is your staff strength? Do you hire from B‐Schools?
Our Managerial and supervisory staff is ~425. We have workers including contract labor which his around 1400.
Your message to anyone wishing to join your company?
Be ready for hard work. Be sincere, loyal, have initiative and be willing to learn.
What are the Promoter’s holding. Any plans to dilute or increase stake?
It is well within the SEBI Norms. We would strictly follow this.
What is your message to shareholders?
At macro level the sanitation condition in India is pathetic. Our line of business offers ample scope to grow. We respect their holding and investments by our shareholders. We are working hard to create and sustain value for stakeholders. We believe, the investing community has appreciated our efforts with true reflection in Share Price.