Theodore Alexander doesn't see Ikea as direct competition: David Parker

The president of the high-end American home furniture brand speaks about their India foray, market challenges and their growth strategy

Published: Mar 8, 2019

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India, reckons David Parker, is ready for luxury furniture. President of high-end home furniture manufacturer Theodore Alexander, Parker was in Delhi recently to launch the brand officially in the country. Founded in 1996 by Paul Maitland-Smith, the founder of high-end case goods manufacturer Maitland-Smith, Theodore Alexander is one of the largest furniture manufacturers in South East Asia. Known for its collections that encompass unique lighting, home accents, case goods and upholstered furnishings and accessories, Theodore Alexander will find takers in the Indian market, which has matured in taste and affluence over the last decade, avers Parker.

“Handcraftsmanship is what makes Theodore Alexander products stand out in the market,” he says in an interview with Forbes India. Edited excerpts:
 
Q. What’s been the trigger to enter India?
India is a large, dynamic market with a significant population of consumers, interior designers and architects who want stylish, high-quality home furnishing products for their living spaces. We have entered India because now consumers and the interior design community are ready for international luxury furniture. We are already present in 30 countries. Our frequent interaction with Indian retailers and interior design professionals indicates that there is strong demand for our products in the market.
 
Q. Your India foray is happening when Ikea…
True, our timing has coincided with Ikea’s entry, it has a track record for success in many markets worldwide. But Theodore Alexander doesn’t see Ikea as a direct competitor because we will be only targeting the high-end luxury segment.
 
Q. Do you think that the Indian market is ready for luxury furniture?
India is ready for luxury furniture due to the effects of globalisation and with a maturity and appreciation of international aesthetics. Urbanisation and disposable incomes has also helped propel luxury in India. The Indian consumer is now very well-travelled and understands international brands. This awareness will definitely propel Indians to invest in this segment of luxury furniture.

From our past interactions with affluent Indian consumers, and with the sophisticated home furnishing professionals in the market, we are confident that customers are prepared to invest in stylish, well-made furniture products–-especially if they believe the products will become heirlooms for generations of their families.
 
Q. Are you looking into developing an India-specific product line, to match the client aesthetics?
India is evolving tremendously in its fashion and lifestyle choices over the years. In fact, we always find some inspiration from this market in terms of colours and products. Based on our market intelligence, we will consider India-specific products in our collections soon.

Handcraftsmanship is what makes Theodore Alexander products stand out in the market, as does the breadth of the collections. We produce classic and traditional, modern and casual products. We also offer furniture for all the main rooms of a home, along with lighting and accessories.  
 
Q. What kind of growth do you see for your brand in India?
The Indian luxury market has the right potential to expand at least five folds in the next few years. We do believe we will also be a part of that growth. The luxury market in India will grow steadily over the next few years across all major regions of the country. There is a growing segment of the population who seek well-designed, stylish products that are built to last many years.
 
Q. Brand awareness would be one of the biggest challenges for a brand like yours. How do you intend to tackle it?
Generating strong brand awareness will be a key component of our success in India. Recently, we had a large successful Theodore Alexander brand launch event in Delhi. We are using all necessary marketing tools to create brand awareness in India, such as social media, advertising, events, and an on-ground marketing strategy. There is some base of awareness through our company’s participation in international furniture fairs worldwide, including Salone Del Mobile – Milan held once a year in April; and the High Point Market furniture show held twice a year in North Carolina, in April and October. We have prominent showcasing at these shows, which gives a lot of brand exposure to the Indian visitors. Print advertising will be part of the plan as well.
 
Q. How do you plan to deal with the menace of fakes in India?

We are aware that copying takes place in many parts of the world. Companies have attempted to copy Theodore Alexander products in some countries. We are certain, however, that a close inspection of the copies will reveal that they fall far short of the original design, finish and overall quality of the Theodore Alexander pieces.

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