INTERVIEW: Ajanta that sells 9 out of 10 wall clocks in India plans to challenge Havells and TTK Prestige

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INTERVIEW: Ajanta that sells 9 out of 10 wall clocks in India plans to challenge Havells and TTK Prestige
Ajanta Orpat
  • The 49-year-old Ajanta-Orpat Group is set to pose a tough challenge to its peers like Havells and TTK Prestige by launching technologically advanced electric appliances.
  • The company is expanding its sales network, aims to nearly double its distributor pipeline by the end of 2020
  • Business Insider caught up with the Managing Director of Orpat- Ajanta Group Nevil Patel in an exclusive chat and spoke about the clock-making company’s business roadmap ahead.
  • Check out the latest news and updates on Business Insider.
The 49-year-old Ajanta-Orpat Group, a market leader in wall clocks, and electric appliances, which comprise a major part of their business is gearing up to pose a tough challenge for its peers like Havells and TTK Prestige by launching technologically advanced electrical appliances.

Having consolidated their leadership in the wall clocks segment, Ajanta-Orpat Group is now focussed on kitchen appliances, especially, grinders and fans as the next target growth area for the company. Business Insider caught up with the Director of Orpat- Ajanta Group Nevil Patel in an exclusive chat on their journey so far, what sets them apart, and their growth plans going ahead.

Ajanta-Orpat’s journey from ₹1 lakh to ₹1200 crore company

Nevil Patel is the third generation of his family running this business. Patel told Business Insider that in 1985 their company was the first one to bring quartz technology in India before that they had the mechanical clocks. “From a small assembler of 100 pieces per month, the production of clocks reached up to a level of ₹1.35 crores a year, which is a record in history,” he said
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INTERVIEW: Ajanta that sells 9 out of 10 wall clocks in India plans to challenge Havells and TTK Prestige
Nevil Patel Director, Ajanta-ORPAT Group

His grandfather, Odhavjibhai R Patel began this wall-clock making business with ₹1 lakh rupees. This Gujarat based company, which is also the world’s largest wall clock manufacturer, has grown from an annual turnover of ₹200 crore to over ₹1200 crore now. Today, besides being an exporter in over 45 countries, the Group holds a range of different products— from the calculator, telephone, toys to home appliances, including blender, room heater, fans, iron, grinders, and some more.

These are the edited transcripts of the interview.

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Q) What has changed for the company in this lockdown?

As we get classified into semi-essential categories in terms of home appliances and kitchen appliances, we just had to close our factory for 40 days. We were later in the green zone as the government classified it and were the first area to open the factories post-lockdown. The anti-China sentiments of retailers and suppliers helped us pick up really well.

But things changed after we started. We had to put a lot of changes in terms of processes. We have a lot of buses that carry all our 5,000 employees. Now that became risky. So initially, we were working at a 30% capacity to adhere to social distancing norms. We introduced temperature checking and sanitising, and gradually we all got to fit into the process of wearing a mask.

Q) What is the market share you hold in the clock segment?
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We hold a 90% market share in the clock segment in India. Largely, in the wall clocks segment.

Q) How does your company benefit from the border tensions? The India-China standoff especially has been simmering for a few months now.

Since we are totally a Made in India (company), we have everything manufactured in India. So you know there is a huge sentiment at the best level— that is the consumer level, which is obviously going up to the retailer and suppliers that they prefer having the Indian companies. Also, because of the COVID, the imports from China were being delayed, and that’s why the competitive brands, which were importing and selling in India were not able to fulfill the demand. That demand also shifted to us.

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Q) What percent of your raw material is imported?

We do import raw material, and we import it from China. We have been trying for the last ten years to stop importing. But there are certain raw materials that we still do not have an alternative for, which we are in the process of finding.

But if ten years back we were importing 40% of the raw material, today we are at 3%. Certain raw materials need time to build up an alternative for.

Q) What is the growth percent you are expecting in the coming months?

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Honestly, we were growing very aggressively in terms of appointing new distributors. But because of the lockdown, a lot of people can’t travel. And, our model is a little different where the distributor needs to come to the factories to understand the process, and how to service the products, etc. So that delay in the process is the reason we might not be in a position to see a growth percentage.

It all depends on how the festive season picks up. We are all expecting the coming months to be critical. We also have a lot of business coming from the room heaters category. So that is the season that will come up. However, we lost a fan season when most of the country was under the lockdown.

Q) What is the business strategy in the coming months?

As I said, we are appointing new distributors. And there were certain territories which we have open. The South was not very strong. There’s a lot of international business that is coming in. We have very good traction for wall clocks in Australia right now. So there’s a lot of international sentiments that are shifting from other countries to India as a manufacturing hub.
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INTERVIEW: Ajanta that sells 9 out of 10 wall clocks in India plans to challenge Havells and TTK Prestige

Q) How many distributors do you have in India?

Currently, we have 450 distributors in India. We estimated it to be near 800 by the end of 2022. We have a very strong pipeline, and we have been growing at a much faster rate at the distributor level than we expected. And, we don’t see a problem in reaching that target.

Q) Do you have any plans to go public anytime in the future?

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No, not at the moment.

Q) What has been your business focus in the last few years?

Ahh, focus, Home appliances, Kitchen appliances, and fans have been our focus other than wall clocks. Again in fans, we are launching a certain technology by the end of this year. We are also launching different technology in a mixer grinder that we plan to launch in November.

In terms of fans, we are launching BLDC technology (Brushless DC motors), which is more of a power-saving fan— It will save around 85% of the power. In a mixer grinder, we are launching a very premium product, which can do multiple things. So there are these mixer grinders from international brands in the range of ₹ 40000 to 50000, which can make smoothies, atta’s and soups and all kinds of stuff. We have been working on this for almost two years now. Ours will be completely Made in India and will also be at a much much affordable price.
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Q) Do you see your market share increasing in the clock segment in the coming months?

The wall clock is a difficult sector for a new player to enter. To manufacture a wall clock for a single wall clock, you would need over 200 products and processes. For us, everything for glass cutting to the coil making, everything is done in the house that is the reason we are able to sell it at a reasonable price. There’s a lot of acceptability around the market for our clocks. We will 100% be able to maintain our position as a world leader in clocks.

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