Demand for stainless steel is likely to be over 10 per cent this fiscal with public becoming familiar with the metal’s usage. The product’s sustainability and durability are the reasons for its increased use.
“If we look at the development in the last two decades, people have started understanding the stainless steel uses and where it can be used. Again, the aesthetic sense is there, though stainless steel is considered a core material and much better than the normal steel,” said Rajesh Mohta, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director, Jindal Stainless Lifestyle Limited (JSLL).
Consumers use stainless steel because of its sustainability, durability and other issues such as corrosion. “So that is where it is getting replaced and year-on-year growth is happening.” said the CEO and MD of JSLL, an initiative of Jindal Stainless Ltd.
Growth due to changes
Changing lifestyles has resulted in people spending more time on this. “Earlier, you might have seen in front of the houses steel gates made up of normal mild steel. Now, people try out steel gates because they look good and fancy. Similarly, MS railing was getting painted every 3-4 years,” he said.
Close to 10 per cent of the growth in stainless steel demand is coming due to these changes. The good growth in demand is seeing the parent Jindal Stainless Steel expanding its capacity which is currently at nearly two million tonnes (mt).
Mohta said with many infrastructure projects coming up as part of the Centre’s initiative, particularly the Gati Shakti scheme, quite a number of construction activities were pushing up the demand for normal steel.
Another push could come from the industrial segment once investments by private players begin. Currently, not much expansion is taking place, particularly, he said. “However, if you look from the real estate point of view where the stainless steel, sorry, where the steel requirement is more that is where the real estate is booming,” he said.
Real estate demand
The real estate segment was witnessing a 22 per cent growth in demand for steel. “I believe that is one area which will help improve steel demand, and of course, the national steel demand as well,” he said.
Dwelling on the developments during the Covid pandemic, he said in view of the lockdown, people stayed indoor thinking about what they really require. “One thing we have seen is a 26 per cent growth in the home appliances segment (for JSLL) That is one area where we have seen good growth,” Mahto said.
The hygiene aspect due to the pandemic has made people aware of the stainless steel utility. “So, people have started looking into hygiene products. That is where we have seen good demand after the lockdown got over. Last year was a good one for us and this year again we are seeing solid demand. While Covid year was a bad year, we have seen demand growing sharply after that,” the JSLL CEO said.
Currently, business is back to the pre-Covid level and it will likely exceed that. “As of today, we have started getting good orders and see a lot of traction for the second half,” Mahto said, hoping for a growth in the excess of 25 per cent this fiscal.
“We are also looking to tap technology and start working on new products. Because of Covid, the offline market was not doing well. Now, we are seeing its demand picking up and have plans to expand this space as people still prefer to feel and then experience,” Mahto said.
JSLL plans to open three more franchise stores across the country over the next few months. On the other hand, the firm was investing more in increasing current capacities to help come up with new product lines.
“In the case of railways, when we wanted to have a more number of coaches to manufacture, we doubled our Chennai plant capacity recently,” he said. Such decisions help reduce the time from 30 to six months.
With stainless steel demand increasing abroad too, JSLL has commenced exporting to the US and other markets. While most of the company’s products are exported to the US, some are being shipped to Mexico. “We are working to export to Brazil as well,” he said.
The company is witnessing good growth in lifestyle products. JSLL is working with most of the metro and several airport projects. “We are working with all the airport development construction companies such as L&T, Tata Projects and Shapoorji Pallonji to support them with the stainless steel work, Mahto said.
The company is also working with some of the technology-providing companies that create baggage handling systems or other types of automation systems to provide stainless steel components. “What we are also working on is imports replacements as part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative. We are in talks with our partner companies in this regard We got a lot of success in this and some of the items that were imported from China are being manufactured here,” he said.
Similarly, JSLL is producing components for wind turbines to replace imports from China. “We have almost replaced everything through the ‘Make in India’ concept,” Mahto said.
JSLL works on new product development and recently introduced “millenial” kitchen. The Arttd’inox brand, the homeware and home décor brand, is an offering in the luxury premium category in homeware and home decor.
The company markets through its own stores and franchises, besides online. In the home space segment, it manufactures stainless steel kitchens, wardrobes and vanities. It is also into stainless steel plumbing, offering “hygiene, quality and sustainable solutions”.
In the industry segment, it is directly connected with food processing and chemical industries requiring stainless steel equipment. The common thing among all is that they touch human lives, Mahto said.
July 19, 2022