“The television market is sluggish due to slow economic growth and over-the-top video streaming services”

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Sumit Maini, director, Westway Electronics Ltd

India based consumer electronics and home appliances firm, Westway Electronics, has announced plans to launch the 100-year old US brand RCA (originally known as the Radio Corp. of America) in the country. With investments amounting to ₹ 1 billion, Westway hopes to sell about 30,000 television units per year. The partnership also envisages numerous other offerings for Indian consumers. In the light of this announcement, Nijhum Rudra spoke to Sumit Maini, director, Westway Electronics Ltd, about the idea behind launching RCA in India, the company’s investment plans, and the challenges that the Indian electronics market is facing.

EB: You are all set to launch the US’most iconic 100-year-old electronics brand, RCA, in India. Tell us more about this move.
RCA, originally known as the Radio Corp. of America, has telecast countless key moments in American drawing rooms over the past 100 years. Through it all, families have come to expect exceptional performance, quality, innovation and value from RCA. Now, RCA is all set to enter the Indian market in association with Westway Electronics. We are launching RCA’s premium range of smart TVs. The brand launched its smart TV sales operations through Amazon.in on August 5, 2019. The reason we’re associating with RCA is because of the demand in the market. We observed that other international brands entering the consumer durables space and doing exceptionally well were priced at the premium rate. Westway Electronics is a 42-year-old Indian brand, known for its quality and affordability. We wanted a similar partner to carry forward this legacy and provide the best to our consumers. Westway is the official authorised licensee to sell RCA products in India. Through this association, our company wants to offer Indians what other high-priced smart TVs offer, but at an affordable price.

EB: Do share some details about the product launch, such as RCA’s investments, etc.
With the launch of smart TVs in HD (full HD and the 4K range), we aim to make RCA a top online smart TV brand in India. We would like to offer Indian consumers products that are at par with global standards in quality, innovation and elegance, at a competitive price.
While technology and innovation remain at the core, we have worked on many aspects of TV viewing, keeping in mind the Indian aesthetics, in relation to colour and sound. RCA will be selling various smart TVs on Amazon—from the 81.28cm (32 inch) smart TV to the 139.7cm (55 inch) 4K Ultra HD, in prices ranging from ₹ 22,900 to ₹ 59,990.

The TVs are well equipped with Quantum backlit technology, premium metallic designs, artificial intelligence, voice search, A+ grade panels, 1 million+ hours of content, etc. RCA and Westway Electronics have entered into a ₹ 1 billion deal to sell about 30,000 television units per year, in India, and Amazon.in will be the exclusive sales partner. RCA has also partnered with ‘247around’ to ensure customers get industry-leading after sales support. With 800+ service centres across 800+ cities which serve 19,500+ area pin codes, and with a one-year warranty, customers can buy smart TVs from RCA with complete peace of mind.

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EB: What are the various hurdles you are facing in the Indian consumer electronics market?
The Weston brand name is very popular in Indian homes. The company also produces washing machines, air conditioners and refrigerators, which are equally successful in the market. During the cricket World Cup that ended in July, high sales of TVs were reported—not only in metros but also in smaller cities such as Hubballi, Jabalpur, Raipur, Ranchi, Kochi and Nagpur. But, currently, the television market is sluggish due to slow economic growth and over-the-top video streaming services. However, we expect sales to increase during the festival season, with the discounts being offered by companies.

EB: What are your expectations from the government? How can it help build a thriving electronics market in India? What are your views on the current duty and customs policies?
One of the constant demands of the consumer durables industry has been for lower GST and an exemption in the import duty on certain items. Manufacturers are attributing the fall in demand to overall low consumer sentiments, as sales of other home appliances like washing machines and refrigerators also witnessed flat growth in July. A reduction in GST from 28 per cent to 18 per cent would create higher demand for consumer electronics products, especially during the festival season.

EB: Do you want to shed some light on the impact of the current Budget on the Indian electronics market and do you want any changes?
Lowering of GST on consumer appliances and the push for exports were the main expectations of the electronics industry from this Budget. But the Budget 2019 increased the tax on split ACs, loudspeakers, and digital video recorders which has impacted the market. The current sentiment in the market is sluggish as demand is less. With the finance minister subsequently announcing certain reforms in the policies to revive the sector, we are hopeful of boosting customer sentiments ahead of the festival season.

EB: What is the business model of Westway Electronics Ltd? Tell us a little about the firm’s mission and vision.
Westway Electronics is one of India’s homegrown manufacturing companies. We’ve been in the consumer durables and home appliances domain for 42 years and our brand, Weston, is a household name. With a wide range of distributors spread across India, Westway products are available at reasonable prices. We have a team of over 1000 employees spread over 200 cities in India. Today, there are more than 400 trade partners across the nation with 8000 retailers, and this network is expanding the customer base like never before. Weston’s strength lies in providing great value for money to new age Indians who will find affordability, reliability, state-of-art technology and great styling across our wide range of products.

EB: What is your current market share and how much do you aim to grow in the coming fiscal year?
Weston is one of the leading consumer durables and home appliances brands in north India, and we now aim to reach every house. With effect from April 1, 2019, Westway Electronics has successfully introduced Weston TVs to the south Indian market too. The company is targeting Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvanathapurum and other cities in the south where the demand for affordable TVs is high. After the successful quarter, we will also look at introducing other product lines like washing machines, refrigerators, air coolers and conditioners in the same markets. We are expecting revenues of ₹ 1.5 billion in the current fiscal year and overall growth in the southern market. Our products have great designs with easy operating systems, which make them a prime choice for our customers.

EB: What is the differentiating factor that helps you stay ahead of the competition?
Westway Electronics is one of the largest original equipment manufacturers (OEM) in the country and has, over the years, emerged as a leading name in the global consumer electronics industry. Our manufacturing unit in Noida is one of a kind, with a capacity of 250,000 TVs per annum. We are in the process of launching another unit in 2020, which will have a capacity of 500,000 units per annum. All our products are well appreciated by our customers for their brilliant performance, dependability, ergonomic designs, low power consumption and simple operating functions, which makes us a leading choice.

EB: What is your roadmap for the coming years?
With this association with RCA, we have been moving in the right direction with regard to market competitiveness. We are now planning to launch RCA washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners over the next three quarters. Besides, we are also looking at 24×7 customer support, which will help customers buy the best products from RCA.

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