As part of its strategy to drive exports in a big way, the Mumbai-based travel products firm of G. Piramal Group has set up a full-fledged sales and service centre in Dubai for catering to the Gulf region and tapping the African market.
"We are also exploring the lucrative Pakistan market seriously. In the absence of direct access to its market even through the Wagah border in Punjab, we plan to enter the neighbouring country via Dubai where we already have a good presence," said VIP sales vice-president Videh Kumar Jaipuriar.
Being an established player in India, with over 80 per cent market share along with its sister concern Aristocrat, the Rs3.7 billion company ($84 million) is aiming at a 300 per cent increase in export sales during the current fiscal year 2005-06.
"Along with our subsidiary Calton and a licensed agreement with Delsey of France, we are aggressively driving our presence in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the US to achieve Rs1 billion in export sales this fiscal as against Rs300 million in the last fiscal (2004-05), Jaipuriar told IANS.
In the Gulf region, VIP markets its range of products, including suitcases, strolleys, duffle trolleys, overnight travel bags, executive cases and backpacks, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
In the Southeast Asian market, where it has a strong presence in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, the company plans to enter Indonesia and Thailand in the current fiscal.
To augment its supplies the world over and cater to the growing domestic market, VIP is setting up a new facility near Hardwar in Uttaranchal and expanding the existing manufacturing plants at Nashik and Sinar in Maharashtra.
"Besides these two production units in India, we have sub-contract operations in China and Indonesia where our range of products are rolled out in accordance with our global specifications and designs.
"With the northern region accounting for 30-32 per cent of our total sales in India, we have decided to set up the Uttaranchal unit at an estimated cost of Rs180 million. The Sinar plant capacity is also being expanded to produce moulded furniture under Moderna brand," Jaipuriar disclosed.
In the light of increasing travel by Indians within the country and overseas for business, tourism, holiday and education, the company expects to surpass the industry's annual growth of 10-12 per cent in the organised sector by growing at 15 per cent this fiscal.
"Out of the total market size of Rs14 billion across the country, the organised sector commands only Rs6 billion, with numerous regional and local players in the unorganised sector cornering the remaining Rs8 billion.
"Besides targeting the outbound and upmarket travelling customers, we are expanding our exclusive brand stores — VIP Lounge and VIP World — across the country to wean away buyers from the grey market with our affordable and durable products," Jaipuriar noted.
The company has opened its fifth exclusive store in one of this city's upmarket suburbs. "Bangalore has emerged as one of the strongest retail markets for our range of products with thousands of its techies travelling all the time within and outside the country," Jaipuriar said.
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