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Hygiene has long played an under-appreciated role in modern life and has often been bound up by taboos.
One such example occurs in rural India, where schools often lack clean toilets, which can lead to young girls who are reaching puberty missing school for several days each month. This can cause them to fall behind academically and eventually drop out of school.
Indian building products leader Hindware is combating the situation through a CSR initiative known as ‘Hygiene that Empowers’, partnering with non-governmental groups to construct proper bathrooms in schools.
“We believe that the creation of hygienic, nice toilets in many rural and semi-urban areas in India will really improve the quality of education among young girls,” Hindware CEO Sudhanshu Pokhriyal tells The CEO Magazine. “As an organization, we are committed and we’ll continue to pursue this effort.”
Hindware’s commitment to bringing hygiene to the masses is no small task in India, where more than a quarter of rural households lack toilets. Despite this, the company has been doing its part for seven decades, and is now considered the national leader in sanitaryware and bathroom fixtures.
Its product lines have also expanded to include best-in-class tiles and bathware, along with Truflo by Hindware, which is the fastest-growing plastic pipes and fittings brand in India, according to the company.
Hindware has enjoyed robust growth as India’s economy and population have expanded in recent decades, driving a building boom.
Pokhriyal also cites another unlikely factor pushing growth – the COVID-19 pandemic, which he says is something he first noticed upon commencing in the CEO position in July 2021.
“We saw how people’s spending on hygiene and sanitation for their own homes increased throughout the pandemic period,” he says.
“We also saw a huge opportunity in terms of people spending money on their homes and bathrooms because they were spending far more time at home.”
Pokhriyal has also identified other opportunities for impressive overall growth in the bathware industry.
“I thought capitalizing on these opportunities would really take an organization like Hindware, which has been in the industry for such a long time, and put it into the next orbit,” he says. “And that’s what has happened for us.”
A veteran executive with experience managing prestigious global brands, including Asian Paints, Coca-Cola and SC Johnson, Pokhriyal joined Hindware after serving as President of Indian fashion retailer Raymond Group.
“My experiences are extremely diverse and, through those experiences, I’ve been able to contribute to Hindware, learning from best practices,” he says.
Pokhriyal has established ambitious growth targets for Hindware. As a simple metric, he lists surpassing the market growth rate by at least 50 percent as a measure of success.
“We also believe the establishment of new business, in tiles, for example, is another key measure of our success,” he explains. “To remain a leader and be profitable in the sanitaryware, faucet and tile business is another important KPI.”
Pokhriyal has set out a multi-pronged plan for growth over the next five years, starting with the company’s two strong and distinct brands, Hindware and Queo.
“Hindware is very clearly targeted towards the mass premium category, while Queo is targeted towards the luxury segment,” he explains.
To grow the two brands, the company plans to use influencers in its marketing and to establish a loyalty program for architects.
“We will do this so we can position our brands, through architects and interior decorators, in the minds of consumers that are using their services to design their homes and bathrooms,” Pokhriyal explains.
“Another loyalty program is planned for plumbers because these are the people who actually use our products and create dream bathrooms at consumers’ homes.”
There’s also a focus on working with institutions, as much of the construction in India is driven by large builders, decorators and contractors.
“They drive a lot of purchases so we’ve created a separate team to address this channel,” he says.
Pokhriyal says customer service has played an essential role in Hindware’s success.
“The key pillars by which consumers know us are basically our product innovation, our quality and our after-sales customer service,” he explains. “We attend nearly 100,000 calls annually.”
He also emphasizes ensuring inventory availability.
“If a customer walks into a Hindware store, they’re assured the product in the catalog is going to be available for them to purchase and install in their house,” he says.
The company has taken a similar attitude towards service in its supplier relations and has developed excellent supplier performance models.
“Many of these supplier performance models are really helping us in terms of improving our supplier relationships,” he says.
“They help us evaluate cost, quality and delivery issues, and creates competition among suppliers to ensure that the best suppliers take a lion’s share of business.”
Pokhriyal has also put a priority on sustainable manufacturing. He’s also backed a CSR initiative to reduce the waste from broken tiles by repurposing them to stop it going directly to landfill.
“We are pursuing re-usage of this construction material and using it to create some new elements in home decoration,” he explains.
“We believe a lot can be done as we go forward in this.”
This approach complements the company’s Hygiene that Empowers commitment – an initiative that has impacted the lives of over two million young girls so far.
Both initiatives are contributing to the building of a better India.