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‘Karcher products are equipped to perform diverse cleaning tasks’ - Ruediger Schroeder, Managing Director, Karcher Cleaning Systems

Karcher Germany, world leaders in cleaning equipments, after forming a fully owned subsidiary, Karcher Cleaning Systems Pvt Ltd in India in 2011, has been continuously investing in the market in terms of setting up branches & sales & service resources to improve the brand visibility in the professional & consumer market. P Krishna Kumar spoke to Ruediger Schroeder, Managing Director, Karcher Cleaning Systems to find out how the mechanised cleaning industry is picking up in India

Monday, April 21, 2014, 10:00 Hrs  [IST]

ruediger_schroeder.jpgQ. How was the journey so far for Karcher in India market, especially since the German company set up a 100 per cent subsidiary in India?
Ruediger Schroeder:
Karcher is world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of cleaning equipment and a company with a turn over of EUR two billion. We started engaging the Indian market in the mid-90’s through importers and by the end of 90’s we  set up a general importer in the market. In 2011, Karcher Germany decided to take over the activities of the general importer by forming a 100 per cent subsidiary company. Today, we are a company with almost 250 employees and 10 branch offices and 19 service points.

Karcher Germany bestows high priority to the Indian market and has clear vision  for growth here. The company is in the process of putting up infrastructure to take the growth forward.  We have recently opened our tenth branch office in Kerala and have plans to open two more this year, one in North and another one in South.

Q. How the Indian market is maturing to mechanised cleaning systems?
India is not a matured market as of now. It is just getting out of the infancy stage when it comes to adoption of mechanised cleaning practices.  Manual cleaning is still dominant as labour is cheaper compared to machines. Consumers still do not understand how machines can bring in efficiency.  A lot of education is required in the market.

We have two different product divisions in Karcher.  One for the professional customers and the other for domestic or residential customers. Traditionally, professional  market has been our strength.  Consumer market is something new to us.  We have started pushing our consumer products in the India market three years ago. However, both segments have been growing.

Q. What has been your focus on the professional/institutional customers and how is it growing?
A lot of new airports are getting upgraded in India now. Of late, Indian Railways has started employing mechanical cleaning systems in the railway stations in a big way. It is still small, but definitely growing.  The shopping malls are another opportunity for mechanised cleaning equipment industry. Hotels and hospitality establishments are another major focus area for cleaning equipment manufacturers.

Our expertise is our highly trained sales force. We deal directly with the professional customers. Our sales engineers visit sites and understand the requirements and offer products based on their requirements. As far as hotels are concerned, we have a specialised sales team. We also conduct training programmes in coordination with the housekeepers’ associations, and also participate in key hotel conferences to showcase our products.

Hotels generally have a large carpet areas. We have a separate training programme for cleaning carpets for our hotel customers.

Q. What is the focus on product innovation and sustainable practices at Karcher?
Karcher has over 600 engineers working on R&D. They have developed over 1,500 patterns.  At least 1,000 engineering hours go behind every product. At Karcher, innovation doesn’t mean just design innovations, but the whole gamut of energy efficiency, water efficiency, use of recyclable materials and more, makes the entire cleaning result much better and sustainable. Unlike other cheaper cleaning equipments, our machines consume less electricity, water and produce less noise.  Our products are made from recyclable materials and therefore environment friendly.

We offer wide range of products to work in all types of environment and affordable for every budget.  We have compact version for entry level customers as well as advanced version for customers who look for bigger applications. This helps us to cater to all types of customers.

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