Business / Corporate

Japanese cutlery maker Kai group opens shop in India, has big plans for growth

Nna/kyodo

The Kai group, which makes cutlery-related products, has opened its first retail outlet in India after betting on the fast-growing consumer market by establishing a manufacturing facility in line with the government’s “Make in India” policy.

Kai, more than 100 years old and coming from a traditional blade and knife production area in central Japan, plans to invest 1.75 billion rupees ($27.33 million) over the next three years in Asia’s third-largest economy and launch five stores by 2022.

“It’s now time to expand our brand presence in the country, ” Koji Endo, group president, said during an opening ceremony last Friday for its “kai shop” in the Select Citywalk shopping mall in New Delhi.

The group, which operates manufacturing plants and sales units in several countries in Asia, Europe and North America, will sell 100 selected products in India from among more than 10,000 items in the cooking, grooming, beauty care and medical fields.

It aims to more than triple its sales through the opening of five houseware and beauty care shops in key cities by 2022 in addition to supplying general stores in other parts of the country, Endo said.

The group plans to produce most of its products for retail in India at the manufacturing facility it set up last year in Neemrana in the northern state of Rajasthan. Currently, about 90 percent of the products are imported from Japan, Endo said.

Rajesh Pandya, managing director of Kai Manufacturing India Pvt., said the company is banking on the popularity of Japanese brands in India to drive growth.

“If you look at our advertising in India, we are selling Japan as a brand and Kai as a product,” he said.

According to a report in March by the Boston Consulting Group titled “The New Indian: The Many Facets of a Changing Consumer,” India’s nominal year-on-year consumption expenditure growth of 12 percent is more than double the anticipated global rate of 5 percent and will make India the third-largest consumer market by 2025.

The report projects that consumer spending will triple to reach $4 trillion by then.

The report also says that in terms of spending, the two top consumer brackets among five household categories in the country — elite and affluent — will become the largest combined segment by 2025, accounting for 40 percent of consumption, compared with 27 percent in 2016.