UTTAM MALANI, Executive Director of Centuary Mattresses, talks of the brand’s efforts to ensure good health and hygiene for customers during the pandemic, as well as his ambition of foraying into a more premium space, while remaining accessible to the masses
Please take us through your experience after joining the family business, managed by three generations of entrepreneurs. What have been the high points of your journey?
I joined Centuary Mattresses - popularly known as India’s sleep specialist - in 2007 and took over the mantle of Executive Director in 2013. I have been looking after the growth trajectory of the brand and its products, along with its marketing strategies for over a decade. As an individual and as a brand, we need to know our strengths; and learn to play towards them. My vision for the brand Centuary (and subsequently our foam brand Cenflex) has always been to upsell and foray into a more premium space, while still remaining accessible to the masses. Some of the key milestones in this journey have been the recognition as India’s largest exporters (and the recent Star Export House status); launch of the exclusive baby mattress category; product leadership in premium and technical grade PU foams for industrial consumption; aggressive marketing campaigns by roping in Sania Mirza as the brand ambassador, etc., to name a few.
What is the USP of Centuary today, in a highly competitive market? Tell us about the Sleepables range of mattresses and other recent and upcoming innovations by Centuary.
The biggest USP at Centuary is the vertically integrated manufacturing set-up, which gives the brand an edge in product innovation and quality. Today, the brand offers a comprehensive range of sleep solutions such as spring mattresses, foam mattresses, coir mattresses, memory foam mattresses, orthopaedic mattresses and accessories such as pillows, cushions, bolsters, mattress protectors, slim mats and more. Strengthening its value proposition, the company recently launched Sleepables by Centuary ‘Pocketed spring roll-pack mattress in-a-box’, a technologically superior spring mattress designed with independent pocketed springs available exclusively for online channels. Apart from this, understanding that the needs of a growing baby’s body are different from adults, Centuary launched a special baby mattress collection under the brand name Beddy by Centuary. Centuary Mattresses has established a strong presence in the country across 18 States with 4,500+ dealers and 450+ exclusive brand stores. It has multiple manufacturing plants located in Hyderabad and Bhubaneshwar, company-operated sales depots in Pune, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Vizag, Vijayawada, Kurnool, and sales offices across South, East and West India.
The pandemic has caused sleep disturbance among people due to stress. What is Brand Centuary doing to provide sleep solutions in the COVID-19 scenario?
We have a wide range of offerings for all our consumers that fits their requirements physically, mentally and monetarily. During the pandemic, the brand repurposed all its products with anti-microbial foam shield to ensure the good health and hygiene of its customers. Centuary Protect, aimed at meeting evolving consumer needs, was tested by two of India’s renowned testing laboratories and also certified by the National Health Academy (NHA), for effectiveness against microbes and germs, which otherwise tend to breed on mattress surfaces.
How did the brand fare in terms of growth and revenue during the last year-and-a-half of the pandemic? What kind of traction did your products see on e-commerce platforms as compared to pre-COVID days?
We expect to improve our market-share to 13-14%, up from the current 9-10% on the back of product launches and expansion of our distribution network. We are also looking to double the share of exports to around 40% of our total turnover in the next two years. The company witnessed close to 20% growth in business in FY21, aided by a surge in at-home consumption and pent-up demand in the months following the lockdown due to COVID-19. We expect around 30% growth in sales this year, with better product availability and a 3X growth in online sales.
Going forward, how will your own approach to business change? What are your future expansion plans and priorities for the brand, including the international business?
We are one of the largest exporters of rubberised coir from India to several countries such as Greece, Russia, Hungary, the UK and South Korea, among others. Our exports grew by over 40% in the last fiscal. We have been swift to launch several market-specific products aimed at particular geographies and consumer preferences. Backed with stable demand and supply-chain restrictions in several markets, we expect to double our growth in exports this fiscal.
What are you looking forward to personally at this point?
I look at my role as that of future-proofing the business. For that, it is very important to continue to re-invent oneself, and while doing so, one needs to not just learn from the past, but also be adaptive and avoid the temptation of sinking into a comfort zone. The other important virtue is empathy – as a parent and leader, I have come to realise its importance. I try to live by these virtues both in my personal and professional life.