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Godrej from India and Itoki from Japan create alliance

Friday 19 November 2010

The $2.6 billion real estate-to-refrigerators Godrej group has entered into an alliance with Japanese

furniture giant Itoki to introduce its premium office furniture in the Indian market. The alliance will help Godrej & Boyce, the flagship of the group, cater to the demand for premium, branded office furniture in the domestic market.

“We will originally be importing knocked down furniture and selling it under the Itoki brand in India as their brand is very strong. At a later stage we may think of adding the Godrej co-branding,” said Anil S Mathur, COO-Interio division of Godrej & Boyce. Itoki’s furniture, based on the principles of universal design fused with environmental design, is aimed at creative environments. The furniture solutions also allow quick changes in layout. “We are currently working with vendors here to see what components can be localised so that the prices offered in India can be reduced,” said Mathur.

Itoki, founded in 1890, has successfully expanded in international markets like China, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and Korea. The company is also present in the US, Australia and in some Gulf countries.

Godrej is also in discussions with Pennsylvania, USA-based Knoll for an alliance. Knoll is recognised internationally for creative workplace furnishings and is a leader in design. Its product range includes office systems, seating, files and storage, tables and desks, wood case, textiles and accessories. Knoll products are exhibited in major art museums, with more than 40 pieces in the permanent Design Collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“We are in talks with top Knoll officials about a possible alliance,” said Mathur. Godrej Interio has embraced design as a major differentiator for its offerings in the nascent branded furniture market.

In the meanwhile, Godrej has also decided to make its products environmentally friendly. It is offering a range of green office furniture some of which even carry certifications from the Greenguard Environmental Institute, USA. “We have started a pilot scheme in Mumbai for restoration of second-hand furniture collected through exchange schemes. This will help reduce the environmental impact by prolonging the life of discarded furniture,” said Mathur.

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