Demand for stainless steel in the country will likely to be over 10 per cent this fiscal with people becoming familiar with the metal’s use. The product’s sustainability and durability are also reasons for its increased use.
“If we look at the development in the last two decades, people have started understanding the stainless steel uses and where it can be used. Again, the aesthetic sense is there, though stainless steel is considered a core material. But, it is much better than the normal steel,” said Rajesh Mohata, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, JSL Lifestyle Ltd.
Consumers have now begun using stainless steel in view of its sustainability, durability and other issues such as corrosion. “So that is where it is getting replaced and year-on-year growth is happening,” said Mohata
Changing lifestyles has resulted in people spending more time on this. “Earlier, you might have seen in front of the houses, there were only steel gates which were made up of normal mild steel. Now, people try to put stainlesssteel gates because they look good and fancy. Similarly, MS railing was getting painted every 3-4 years,” he said.
Close to 10 per cent of the growth in stainless steel demand is coming due to these changes. The good growth in demand is seeing the parent firm Jindal Stainless Steel expanding its capacity Currently, its capacity is at nearly two million tonnes (mt).
Mohata said with a lot of infrastructure projects coming up as part of the Centre’s initiative, particularly the Gati Shakti scheme, quite a number of construction activities were pushing up the demand for normal steel.
Another push could come from the industrial segment once investments by private players begin. Currently, not much expansion is taking place, particularly, he said. “However, if you look from the real estate point of view where the stainless steel, sorry, where the steel requirement is more that is where the real estate is booming,” he said.
The real estate segment was witnessing a 22 per cent growth in demand for steel. “I believe that is one area which will alsohelp improve steel demand, and of course, the national steel demand as well,” he said.
Dwelling on the developments during the Covid pandemic, he said in view of the lockdown, people stayed indoors thinking about what they really require. “One thing we have seen a very good growth in the home appliances segment (for JSLL)So that has grown almost by 26 per cent because of this (for JSLL).That is one area where we have seen good growth,” Mohata said.
The hygiene aspect in view of the pandemic has made people aware of the stainless steel utility. “So, people have started looking into hygiene products. That is where we have seen good demand after the lockdown got over. Last year was a good one for us and this year again we are seeing good demand. That way, while Covid year was a bad year, we have seen demand growing sharply after that,” the JSLL CEO said.
Currently, business is back to the pre-Covid level and it will likely exceed that. “As of today, we have started getting good orders. We started seeing a lot of traction for the second half,” Mohata said, hoping for a growth in the excess of 25 per cent this fiscal.
“We are also looking to tap technology and start working on new products. Because of Covid, the offline market was not doing well. Now, we have started seeing the offline demand going up We have plans to expand this space as people still prefer our offline market as well. The offline market also is required to a certain extent because our type of product where people would like to feel and then experience,” Mohata said.
JSLL plans to open three more franchise stores in various parts o the country over the next few months. On the other hand, the firm was investing more in increasing current capacities to help come up with new product lines.
“In the case of railways, when we wanted to have a more number of coaches to manufacture, we doubled our Chennai plant capacity recently,” he said. Such decisions help reduce the time from 30 months to six months.
With stainless steel demand increasing abroad too, JSLL has begun exporting to the US and other markets. While most of the company’s products are exported to the US, some are being shipped to Mexico. “We are working to export to Brazil as well,” he said.
The company is witnessing good growth in lifestyle products. JSLL is working with most of the metro projects and a lot of airport projects. “We are working with all the airport development construction companies such as L&T, Tata Projects and Shapoorji Pallonji to support them with the stainless steel work, Mohata said.
The company is also working with some of the technology-providing companies that create baggage handling systems or other types of automation systems to provide stainless steel components. “What we are also working on is imports replacements as part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative. We trying to talk to our partner companies and telling them that if give us a technology we can manufacture it for them here. We received a lot of success in this and some of the items that were imported from China are being manufactured here,” he said.
Similarly, JSLL is producing components for wind turbines to replace imports from China. “We have almost replaced everything through the ‘Make in India’ concept,” Mohata said.
JSLL works on new product development and recently introduced “Millenial” kitchen which will help those working there to see videos or use their iPad. The Arttd’inox brand, the homeware and home décor brand, is an offering in the luxury premium category in homeware and home decor.
The firm markets the products through its own stores and franchises, besides online. In the home space segment, it manufactures stainless steel kitchens, wardrobes and vanities. It is also into stainless steel plumbing, offering “hygiene, quality and sustainable solutions”.
In the industry segment, it is directly connected with food processing and chemical industries which require stainless steel equipment. The common thing among all is that they touch human lives, Mohata said.