With an international reputation for holistic design and ethical practices, Duravit AG has created luxury bathrooms for the past 200 years. Founded in Hornberg, Germany, its product portfolio comprises sanitary ceramics, bathroom furniture, baths and shower trays, wellness systems, shower-toilets and accessories.
Duravit AG operates in 130 countries and boasts 12 production plants with a workforce of more than 6,000 worldwide. As India emerged as a major sanitary ware market in Asia-Pacific, Duravit India – a wholly owned subsidiary of Duravit AG – launched its first factory in Gujarat in September 2010. Since that day, Managing Director Asutosh Shah has led the company through a continuing growth period to become a recognised export house. “I’ve been here since day one,” says Asutosh.
“For a German company, India was a foreign market and we were very unsure of the culture and the nature of consumers. We started from zero and we have now established a strong presence in the market. My role has been a quasi-entrepreneurial one that has presented endless challenges, but that’s what attracted me to it.”
Giving customers a complete experience
In July 2014, Duravit India opened a showroom at the production site to allow customers to experience and learn about the brand directly. In India and elsewhere in the world, the Duravit brand stands for innovation in the field of good design, the intelligent use of technology, and commitment to excellence – from product development through to customer service.
The planned capacity of its manufacturing facility is five lakh large ceramic pieces in a year; however, current installed capacity is two lakh large ceramic pieces, which is currently fully utilised.
“Duravit is a global leader in high-end luxury bathrooms and in many of our markets, bathrooms are more like lifestyle spaces than functional rooms. In India, however, it has been difficult to integrate a luxury brand into a value-driven market. Nevertheless, we are seeing demand increase as Indian consumers grow their assets and wish to invest in high-quality design. We still have a long way to go, but the future is promising. We refuse to lose sight of our goals and that’s the difference between us and other brands,” explains Asutosh.
We refuse to lose sight of our goals and that’s the difference between us and other brands.
“Rather than damaging our brand by rushing into the market at any price share we could, we have patiently waited and maintained our reputation – focusing on quality service,
more innovations and new designs. You could say that we’re compromising turnover, but our reputation is why customers can trust us. We’re here for the long haul and we’re helping the market expand to accommodate our offering.”
In cooperation with high-profile international designers and long-term, trusted suppliers, Duravit develops bathrooms that enhance quality of life for its customers. “Many of our suppliers have been with us since the start of the business in India, and we don’t expect this to change any time soon. We constantly check in with suppliers to maintain our relationship and discuss product development and the quality of support that we expect. They are now part of our core structure and operations, and there are mutual benefits.”
Even in an era of high-tech and automation, Duravit still believes that quality is dependent on craftsmanship and human skill. Its designers are specialist innovators with an inherent sense for good design. The company has received many international design awards celebrating bold design, which has become Duravit’s hallmark over the years.
“The culture in India is varied and complex. We have succeeded in reaching a critical mass where most architects, urban professionals and bathroom designers recognise our brand. The next step is to reach the heart of the end consumer, which will allow us to reap the benefits for generations to come,” explains Asutosh.
“Our future focus is on organic lines. When a brand is established, it bears fruit like a tree for a number of years. It’s important that we reach out to every corner of the country so that our products are available to those looking for premium bathroom design and quality service.”
A cultural evolution in India
Duravit has more than 350 employees at its Gujarat factory. “Many of them were farmers and they had never seen a factory in their life. Today, we are ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 certified.
“Our workers are happy and we treat them equally no matter whether they’re a gardener or an executive. This is key in our cultural evolution. We are proud of our work environment – so much so, that when customers visit the factory, we make them sit on the floor because it’s so clean.
“Running an enterprise in a challenging environment like India means we need to prioritise directives from government authorities, but we work without any kinds of corruption or pay-off. By working like this, every employee in the organisation understands that we respect the law and don’t take shortcuts. It has helped create a strong brand image among all stakeholders,” says Asutosh.
“Maintaining this ethical standard of practice is our highest priority. I’m extremely confident that 25 years from now – even after I’ve retired – this organisation will still carry an excellent reputation and vision. That will be my proudest achievement and greatest legacy.”