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The great construction boom that has happened in India in the last 15-20 years has had a positive impact on the roofing sector not just in terms of volumes but also in terms of innovation and technology. In fact, Rahul Chopra, VP-Roofing Solutions, Everest Industries Ltd feels that the industry has been growing despite recessionary trends in the later part of 2008 and early 2009. “The fibre cement roofing industry has grown by over 8% this year and Everest roofing business has grown by 14% over LY. This growth has mainly been fuelled by a robust rural economy and revival of industrial and infrastructure sectors,” he says.
Hakimuddin Ali, VP-Building Products & Distribution, Tata BlueScope Steel Ltd says that the industry has rebounded from the last fiscal FY09 with a robust growth of 30%. However, Ali sees galvanised as a high growth sector compared to Zn-Al coated that has not shown the same growth trajectory. “But Zn-Al is making inroads into traditional metal roofing with its better value proposition,” he adds.
Ali argues that galvanised roofing’s growth comes from the retail sector where government spending on schemes like Indira Awas Yojna is helping to spur demand. “Also, colour coated sheets with the appeal of better aesthetics and prestige value, though accounting for 30% of total roofing, are slowly but surely replacing bare sheets. Metal roofing has found particular favour with the industrial sector where speed of construction is essential, though making little headway in housing sector, which has the largest potential,” he informs.
Abhijeet P Kale, Sr Manager-Technical & Marketing, Lloyd Insulations India Ltd attributes the growth to the favourable changes in design approach of architects and consultants engaged in infrastructure projects who are incorporating metal buildings extensively. “In fact, designers have been seeking newer concepts from us to meet their ever changing upgraded end-use objectives. Sectors like Airport have made it possible to feature functional and architectural enhancements utilising aluminium and built-up membrane roofing systems to address thermal and acoustical requirements in public buildings,” he says.
Kale also adds that activities in the Indian automobile sector too have contributed to the growth. “Automobile sector has been quite busy with creation of new facilities to projects as well as expansion to international standard. Recently, we successfully completed very large roofing projects for the Volkswagen facility at Chakan and General Motors new plant at Talegaon in Maharashtra,” he informs.
Kale believes that the pre-engineered buildings segment (PEB) has further expanded the scope for metal roofing systems in India. He gives examples of mega projects like Mahindra & Mahindra at Chakan and Toyota Kirloskar at Bidadi, near Bangalore done by his company to prove his point.
Of course, the industry has had its share of hurdles but things are now improving. Scarcity of raw material, which was a bottleneck in the first half of FY’10 has improved in Q3 and Q4 of FY’10, points out Ali of Tata BlueScope. He also remarks that recession has imparted some critical lessons to the industry like the need to have control over inventory, focus on cost reduction, improvements in processes and providing better customer service, which would help in the coming future. “Brand names like Tata Shaktee and Durashine have shown better performance during recession and picked-up thereafter which goes to show the importance of brand building,” he adds.
The industry is very keen to build on the momentum as it sees great prospects ahead. “The future is definitely very bright. The next 5-10 years look extremely good and we should see exceptional growth not only in terms of volume growth but also in terms of additional products,” says Chopra of Everest. He gives three primary reasons for this strong optimism – government promoted housing development schemes, thrust on infrastructure development and increasing purchasing power of individuals both in the rural and urban sphere. Ali too has similar views about the future of the industry. “We see 10-15% growth as present initiatives undertaken by the government and overall economy gathers momentum,” he says adding that growth will attract new players. However, he emphasises that success will belong to those who bring in competencies that will address to the customer needs in a cost efficient manner, while offering a range of solutions that go beyond just the product.
Kale points out that the entry of overseas design firms is opening doors for Indian construction players to international competition and is literally compelling them to think outside the box. “There will be tremendous change in the aesthetics of our buildings as well as in conventional requirements because of fresh architectural concepts and adoption of new fast construction methods,” he states.
Kale expects to see positive and huge increase in use of metal roofing materials as well as other new components. He also has words of caution: “We cannot blindly copy the trends from overseas in totality because of our varying environmental conditions across the country. We need to develop bespoke roofing systems which will sustain specific Indian climate conditions. Due care during the designing stage for material selection and concept selection accompanied with correct installation at site will ensure ‘Leak Proof Indian Roofs’. Ali too feels that metal buildings will grow but the segment needs to build on this foundation by offering cost effective solutions and changing the existing mindset that is still focused on cement.