Wood & Panel

Sumit Sharma

 Thursday, January 13, 2022

With just a few months to go for LIGNA, we get to speak to Sumit Sharma, the Regional Manager, VDMA, North India Office. VDMA is the co-organiser of LIGNA. He talks to us on the liaison between the Indian industries and VDMA. Here is the replica.

How has been the association between the Indian woodworking industry and VDMA?

Sumit Sharma : German SMEs have been very important in this country’s economic growth and it could be the same case for Asean. German SMEs, which constitute 30 to 39 per cent of the GDP and 19 to 31 per cent of exports in different Asean countries, are often family-owned and locally oriented. In addition, these companies provide 15 to 17 per cent of employment in the region.

The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) is the largest industry branch association in Europe. Founded in 1892, it now looks back on a 118 year long history. This non-profit association, with a workforce of 400 employees worldwide, consists 3,000 member companies active in 39 engineering sector. VDMA is a real representative of small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany and reflects the production process itself, from components to plants, from system supplies or integrators to service providers. VDMA extended its services with nodal office located in Kolkata and having regional offices at New Delhi/ Noida and Bangalore. The Indian team assists the German member companies by their endeavour in Indian market. Further local assistance is provided to the Indian Industry in establishing contact with the German companies. VDMA India acts as a “bridge-head” between the German and the Indian Industry and helps to foster the Indo-German trade in the engineering sector.

VDMA supports “German Pavilion” in various leading sectoral trade exhibitions in India. the member companies participate here and develop further business ties with their customers. VDMA publishes a quarterly newsletter “German Machinery Industry” which is sent to around 8000 Indian Companies. Various German Companies and Organizations make use of this newsletter and participate in form of an advertisement to reach out to their customers in India. VDMA India can also assist its members in form of mailing/roadshow activity to target specific companies. VDMA India has also started recruitment services for its member companies.

Does the ‘made in Germany’ claim have demand in India?
Sumit Sharma : The appeal of foreign brands has always been strongest among Indian Consumers. But that’s just the surface we are talking about. If we dig deep into which offshore brands actually strike a chord with an Indian Consumer, it would be the German Brand. German products and services are very popular among the rising urban affluent group in India.German brands highest on the attributes of “excellent quality”, “high durability” and “outstanding design”. On top of that, Indian’s generally agree that German brands are associated with “high prestige”.

What will be your general perception about the Indian wood industry? Do you believe that it is going to attract more potential in near future?

Sumit Sharma :The Indian Wood Industry is poised to grow by leaps and bounds, as the products; belonging to the building industry will be in big demand in direct proportion to the fast urbanization of India with its ever growing middle class with increasing purchasing power. The exposure to the developed countries both through the media and travel, are opening the Indian eyes to the modern lifestyle products as well as high quality and sophisticated products in kitchens, furniture, flooring, packaging etc. also, the demand for standardized and branded products within short delivery times both for residential and industrial applications will ensure the automation of manufacture of such products at the cost of the hand made products with only basic and primitive tools. The industry is already adapting at a fast pace to meet the demands of the consumers.

What changes do you look forward in 2013?

Sumit Sharma : In the near term, Entry of IKEA in the Indian market would be something to watch out for. As the IKEA enters in Indian market, the sales of every product will raise. Further it is also expected that many similar types of IKEA stores are expected to come to India, some will be developed within the country and some will be of imported category. Overall the material supply chain will have robust growth and demand coming from locally and will be great for the material production establishments.

Sectors do you think need more importance?

Sumit Sharma : Some of the challenges faced by the industry are – Inadequate availability of power and water, poor infrastructure, unskilled labor, government policies, bureaucratic hurdles, rising input cost and human resource, low technology implementation to name a few. The various infrastructure projects being implemented by the government is the right step in addressing this hurdles. However, there is still a long way to go even if we compare our infrastructure with other countries in Asia. India’s, engineering skills, especially in the IT sector are exceptionally high. This must be effectively utilized in automation to make the processes cost effective. Further, with international players coming into India, the quality bar has to be raised and availability of advanced technology would be a boon for the domestic industry. India generates good English speaking young population, educated manpower passing out from the high standard engineering and management colleges which would provide an effective manpower pool in the years to come. Added to this is the well established IPR regulation which is becoming increasingly important in global business scenario.

Has the Indian Government been supportive?

Sumit Sharma : It would be imperative for India to bring down the tariff and duties. This would help the global capital goods industry. Further lowering of tariffs would act as a catalyst to increase the demand. This would help in new job generation and give a boost the economy. We at VDMA look forward to the exciting and challenging phase of increased bilateral trade in the years to come.

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