Schell India: Fittings Expert

CV Dilipkumar, MD, Schell India, elaborates on the German company’s growth in India’s sanitaryware market over the years and its plans to strengthen its presence through retail, product assembly in the short-term, and even manufacturing in the long-term

Please trace the history of Schell in India.

Schell GmbH & Co Kg, a Germany-based bath fitting major, entered the Indian market in 2009 by setting up a liaison office in New Delhi. Three years later, as the Indian market for its products began to grow significantly, Schell converted the liaison office into a private limited company. Schell India is now a 100% fully-owned subsidiary of Schell GmbH.



Schell is an 80-year-old company, which is now being run by the third generation of the family. Their core strength is angle valves, flush valves, and sensor products. In fact, for fitters across the world, the angle valve technology invented by Schell, is their preferred choice. Our end-customers prefer the Schell brand because we have core competence in the products, and have not diluted the brand value by diversifying into other sanitaryware product categories

CV Dilipkumar

As a technologically-sound company, Schell is a well-established name in the European countries, where it has been serving the plumbing needs in commercial projects such as offices, airports, and other public buildings. In India too, its major focus has been on commercial projects.

What does Schell India’s product range comprise, and what installation assistance does the company provide?

Schell is offering urinal sensors, washbasin taps, sensor taps, angle valves, and flush valves. We are the world’s largest manufacturer of angle values and supplying to many OEMs of sanitaryware products and to major sanitaryware companies like Grohe, Hansgrohe, and Geberit.

Our technicians are well trained by us to handle Schell’s specialized products as customers expect pre and post service, which is technical in nature. Our products are installed after the tiling work is done, that is, during the plumbing stage of a building’s construction work. We visit the site frequently to ensure that the contractors are doing the installation of our products the right way.

SCHELLOMAT

We provide professional installation engineering in dry wall and masonry construction, and our pre-fabricated assembly modules provide solutions for all commercial areas of application and for drawing up plans for accessible sanitary installations. Toilets, urinals, wash basins, shower fittings and other sanitary articles can be quickly and securely mounted and aligned.

What are the application techniques and challenges of Schell fittings?

Our self-closing technology uses water pressure available in the plumbing system, subject to the required or recommended minimum pressure to close the valve. The opening of the valve is done either manually or electronically, and the process incorporates a self-cleaning mechanism by means of a self-cleaning jet needle – a unique aspect in toilet fixtures.

This process is applied on taps, WCs, urinal flush systems, and showers. Through a pressure balancing process, the closure of the valve is activated and ensured. It is possible to regulate the closure time of the valve, hence, allowing the water outflow to be regulated as per the requirement such that appropriate quantities of water are provided through the fixtures, leading to water conservation.

When applied in taps and mixers, they regulate water outflows from 600 ml upwards, per use. WC flush systems regulate water outflows from 4.5 litres per flush, adjustable to 6 liters thereby prevent water wastage. Since only the cartridge has to be serviced, there is minimal service time and costs, and the self- cleaning mechanism lengthens service schedules and enhances reliability of operations.

SCHELLOMAT

What gives the Schell brand an edge over its competitors?

Our products are very superior because whatever we produce is made for drinking water application, as well. German laws state that every water must be drinking water suitable. And it is the same quality of products that we are selling in India. All our products are authentic because they are manufactured entirely by us, and since no part is outsourced, we have complete quality control. The products are also certified as green products as water savings through limiting outflow volumes is an integral feature. Our flush points are 3 and 4.5 liters.

The biggest advantage for buyers of Schell products is that whatever we produce and sell in India, comes from Germany and we are specialists in these products, nor do we trade in them. Our cutting-edge technology products like our sensor products are being used in commercial projects, offices, airports etc, in fact, they can be used in every sanitary application.

In a highly competitive sanitaryware market, how is Schell creating greater awareness of its brand value?

Our dealers and sales team visit architects to generate business, but the biggest influencers are the plumbing consultants as they are the ones who design the plumbing system, after considering the products. So, while the architects decide on the design factor and select the products, the engineering part, the pressure required, the diameter etc is decided by the consultant. Our specialised products, especially the angle valves, have been specified in many prestigious projects of Shobha Developers, Hiranandani, Kalpataru Group and the Prestige Group, amongst others.

SCHELLOMAT

What is your pricing strategy for the Indian market?

India is a very price sensitive market. However, the perception that Schell is an expensive brand is quite wrong. As a matter of fact, any German product would come with a ‘slight’ premium because of the German superior quality standards and technology.

India’s usage is no doubt different and India does not need such products, so one can always compromise on quality, but we are not doing so. Our angle valves come with a lifetime warranty and their chrome finish is not affected by hard water problems of rusting, corrosion etc. You could say that we are offering specialization with affordability.

How important is the Indian market for Schell?

Schell is a typical hardcore engineering company. We are not interested in bringing numbers, so we are focused only on our core products, and we invest in R&D only on these products. Our principals see India as a very important market as the potential is huge. South India has, so far, been our best market and the region offers tremendous scope for sales of our products. Infra development across the country, including commercial and housing projects, will increase demand for plumbing and sanitaryware projects substantially.

What is the current dealer network of Schell?

We have dealers across 11 metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai Bangalore, Cochin, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, etc, and we have plans to enter new regions and make our presence stronger in places like MP, Raipur, Rajastahn, UP, and in East India (Kolkata, Assam Bhuvaneshwar). We will start by placing a sales person in the city or region, followed by a dealer and a technician, and once we see potential growth, we will set up a stock point for timely supply of products and service and thereby establish our presence more strongly .

We have a structured training program for our salespersons and plumbers so that they are made aware of the ease of installation and maintenance of our products, which require fewer tools. We will set up a training centre for plumbers and contractors in one of the metro cities in 2019.

SCHELLOMAT
In 2017 the company ventured into retail business. How is this vertical shaping up?

We are now focusing on retail business as well, as we see a huge market of end-users for our products. In fact, the market is beginning to recognize the Schell brand as a technology leader in plumbing with its water-efficient products. End-users are increasingly looking for the best technology in plumbing products and going beyond aesthetics, as good quality valves extend the life of pipes and enable water conservation.

We have upped our branding exercise of late amongst the end-customers and are strengthening our dealer base. We plan to expand our retail presence in top 10 cities by the year-end and have 30-40 retailers in each city. Our retail business will also widen our reach to the real estate builders.

What are Schell’s further expansion plans, following its foray into retailing?

We are a small base 20-crore company, growing at a CAGR of 30% year on year, which can easily be doubled as the market holds a lot of potential. Expansion, however, would mean that we would have to invest big: we would have to set up our own logistics, own assembly processes, own product displays, training center, warehousing, etc. No doubt, all of this would save cost, time and import duty, plus, we would be able to source a lot of components locally.

In fact, all of this, including manufacturing in the long-term, is being considered. For manufacturing we would bring the main engine part from Germany and source some of the accessories locally, as India produces very good quality of fittings. The company will never compromise on its brand image by lowering its quality standards, in any market. In fact, we could even export products manufactured in India back to Germany and to the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Since ours is a family-owned business, decisions are taken fast as they don’t have a board of directors to consult.
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