“We making imported stones available in the Indian market through the architect”

By launching the business in the domestic market, Prasan Shah, Founder and CEO , Stone Plus talks about his aim to take the best practices of their international business and implement it to the best of their abilities in India, expressing in an interaction with Bhumi Gupta.

How did Stone Plus’ journey begin?
I have been for 20 years in the industry but in the business for a little under 9 years.We’ve been into export for nearly 8.5 years and have just started to get into the Indian market.
In exports we sell container loads of slabs, cut and finished. Most of the application of our material abroad is in the kitchen for countertops.
Here in India we have a range of applications like flooring, cladding, vanity tops, etc., for which we have a mix of stone choices to offer like Granite, Marble, Quartz & Semi-Precious Gemstones amongst other materials.

Exploring the Indian market, what are the change in trends you see?
There is a lack of good product and choice available in India. Material is out there but is not marketed well. There is a lot of emphasis on the basics here, the same product is being used everywhere in every project. Now, we’ve seen that the consumer really wants something different but is limited by what is available out there. So, as a company, because of our international exposure, we are bringing in stones from all over the world and provide choices in stones from India as well. These Indian stones are not readily available as they are majorly exported, but we supply these too to the desired consumer. We showcase a good mix of colours in the stones that we provide, at our warehouse today. Apart from our existing range here, we offer the service of getting a particular stone imported on demand, from anywhere around the world.

What is your target audience?
First target audience would definitely be architects, as the kind of product that we are coming up with is divergent and the designers need to understand the choice that’s available in their market. Once the architects display these products to the consumer, our target would shift to being consumer driven.

Is there any particular design element that is different for the Indian market?
Most retailers out there sell similar kind of product in common colours, but there is variety available. Architects would definitely want to tap into this and explore the various options. As a company we are offering to bring in a plethora of stones that aesthetically work in the various aspects of design.

Talking about stone in floorings, how well will it compete with the ceramic market?
Ceramic and vitrified tiles are man-made, hence the longevity of these materials cannot be assured. They tend to break, chip off or lose colour with time. Whereas, with stones one can expect them to be in perfect condition for more than 15-20 years easily. The lifelong durability of the natural stone is what sets it apart from the other man-made products available.

Do people want change frequently in the look of their homes?
It is a difficult task to change the flooring, in case of stone flooring, it still looks new after being installed for 20-25 years. Whereas, ceramic and vitrified tiled don’t last so long. And when people build their house, it’s for a lifetime, they might change such things like floorings or countertops once in their living span. Nevertheless, the consumer needs to know what all choices are out there available for them to bring in change.

Does Stone Plus offer design solutions too?
We have a fabrication facility within our warehouse, so this eliminates the hassle of the consumer to find a fabricator to do the installation. Having fabrication machinery in place ensures that the cutting and the polishing is precise and the quality is not compromised on. Once the piece is prefabricated, it’s just a 2 hour job to install it without creating a mess around the house.

What is next in line for the company?
First step would definitely be to introduce ourselves to the architects, to make sure that we showcase how different we are from there the architects take the word forward through their work. That would drive the business from the warehouse’s stand point. We making imported stones available in the Indian market through the architect is, in my opinion, our USP.

Will bringing in imported goods affect the economy of the project?
In today’s time, the price of realty all across the nation is hiked and the buyer does not mind spending if he’s getting his money’s worth. Also, on investing in an expensive house, the customer doesn’t want the fixtures and finishes to be ordinary. They want to choose what’s best and don’t mind shelling out money for it. Irrespective of offering variety of quality products, we have a range of budget friendly materials which is a suitable option for consumers like builders, developers, etc. to use in their affordable housing projects.

StonePlus Enterprises Private Limited was established by Prasan Shah, Founder and CEO, in December 2010. Stone Plus exports Granite, Marble, Quartz & Semi-Precious Gemstones from India and its core strength is the access to a wide variety of stones from across the world. Stone Plus has 11 full time quality inspectors on international quality standards. It has a distribution facility showcasing a wide range of stones that houses a 400 sq. ft. showroom as well as a fully integrated fabrication unit for custom cut pieces done right at the warehouse.

What all is in the showcase of Stone Plus?
At the moment, we are stocking up quartz, marbles, granite, semi-precious gemstones, some bit of vitrified tiles, stone mosaic, glass mosaic, an entire gamut of options a consumer can pick from.

Have you started with any projects in India?
It’s early days, but yes we have started with projects in India. We are working with builders, we have the project from the new city of Amravati up our sleeves and few other small projects here and there. Quality is the key and we want to make sure we are out there offering there.

Does the political scenario hamper or alter your dealings with export/import?
With US government imposing strong tariffs on china, it has helped Indian manufacturers. It helped the products being exported from India. For natural stones, it has boomed. For companies to function well they have no choice but to adjust and improve with the change that is ever occurring. We as a company are very flexible on that front. If a product doesn’t work in a particular segment, we have other options and variables to offer. And with saying so, India will always remain a strong market for us.

bhumi.gupta@saffronsynergies.in

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