Stepping on green turf
Designs are now created keeping carpet tiles in mind. Raj Menon, country manager, InterfaceFlor India Pvt Ltd tells Niranjan Mudholkar why carpet tiles are back in the limelight
The Indian architecture and design industry has seen some fundamental changes last few years. Some of these are clearly seen in the flooring segment. “Earlier carpets were one of the last products to be chosen by an architect.
Today, most design firms start with the floor and take the colour from the floor to the walls and even to the panels and the sitting systems. The whole trend has reversed even internationally,” says Raj Menon, country manager, InterfaceFlor India.
Carpet tiles are being recognised as a high quality flooring solution for both commercial as well as residential requirements. In India, the carpet tiles market is an emerging sector having started about a decade ago. Currently, the product is entirely imported. It’s a combination of about 8-10 players mainly from the US, Europe and the Far East,” says Menon. Heuga, a Dutch company (now part of InterfaceFlor) invented the first carpet tile approximately 50 years ago.
InterfaceFlor, the modular flooring division of Interface Inc, based in Atlanta (USA) is the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpets. It also leads the Indian carpet tiles market, which is approximately Rs150-200 crore in size. “Internationally, we have about 35-40% market share and about the same even in the Indian market. In India, carpet tiles are increasingly popular as flooring solutions for the last 6-7 years. In fact, carpet tiles are one of the first options for the Indian architecture and design industry because of the flexibility they offer,” says Menon.
The customer base for carpet tiles in India has primarily been the IT and ITeS companies. “However, in recent times it has caught on among other Indian corporates and the market has been spanning. So typically an Indian office that would have chosen traditional carpet or marble/granite flooring is now opting for carpet tiles,” Menon says.
Menon also claims that his company holds a unique position in the Indian market. “We are the only company in this segment that has substantial market operations with a full-fledged subsidiary. We provide end-to-end solutions in the sense we not only supply but also install. We offer a maintenance programme, which is outsourced currently but we ensure that the right kind of equipment and chemicals are used for the same,” Menon says. The company’s annual turnover is about Rs75 crore in India.
For InterfaceFlor, which started as a liaison office for distribution, a manufacturing unit would be a natural progression. “That is definitely on the cards but it can happen only when we have a substantial demand to justify as carpet tile manufacturing is a highly capital-intensive mechanised process. Moreover, we follow very stringent environmental norms,” he says. Incidentally, the company wants to eliminate any negative impact it may have on the environment by 2020. “We call this Mission Zero. We’re showing the world there is a new way to do business that doesn’t waste our natural resources,” adds Menon.
In line with this mission, the company’s Bangalore facility received the LEED Gold certification for commercial interiors.
Although Menon is quite bullish about the Indian market, he admits that the ongoing financial crisis has had an effect. “The market is apprehensive about taking decisions. That is a concern for us,” he says.
He is quite positive going ahead. “That’s because the Indian architecture and design segment is adventurous. It is not afraid to experiment and explore creative options. This is also reflected in the choice of carpet tiles.”