The Evolution of Interio Kitchens
Over the years, kitchen solutions of Interio have morphed and re-morphed to stay relevant to the needs of the marketplace and emerge stronger.
by Vaishali Lahoti Shah
Godrej Interio

Steel Chef 2.0, loaded with features to support the modern lifestyle.

Like any other project business, only product alone is never sufficient. The product must be augmented with superior service experience.

At Interio Kitchens, we have realized that opportunities often present themselves as challenges that affect our existing position in the market. In practice, we have found that this works out to our advantage if we read early signs and begin to take actions to evolve and emerge as a stronger player. In the last decade, at Interio kitchens, we have morphed and re-morphed frequently to stay relevant in the marketplace.

Fragmented Market

In India, the market for modular kitchens is highly fragmented. Apart from the established brands, there are many local start-ups and manufacturers in the market. Call it a boon or a bane, with the unorganized market taking the lion’s share of 70% of the 4,300 Cr. market, the organized players always have plenty of headroom to gain market share and shift the balance in their favour. To win in the market, a player in the organized sector requires skills of high order in managing projects. For successful installations, accurate planning, and intense coordination amongst multiple service providers in the areas of civil, electrical, plumbing is essential. Like any other project business, the product alone is never sufficient. The product must be augmented with superior service experience. As executed projects grow, new projects are won based on positive word of mouth and good overall customer experience. Both are critical.

The Beginnings

Interio’s humble but differentiated beginnings were in 2005 when Interio introduced the Steel Chef range of modular kitchens. This was a time when the wooden modular kitchens were ruling the roost.

Interio was poised to become a leader in the industry as Steel kitchens helped us reach customers that were seeking durable and termite free solutions.
However, over time and with the aesthetic expectations rising, we could see the charm of Steel chef fading. This trend was further reinforced with the influencer community like architects and interior designers who began to demand ‘non-industrial’ aesthetics, with a strong preference towards engineered wood. We realized it was time for us to change gears. The obvious choice for us was to introduce solutions based on wooden platform as there could be a split in the preference of materials, i.e; steel vs wood. As we did not want to lose any market share by being the provider of steel kitchens only, we began exploring options that could help us shed industrial aesthetics linked to the Steel Chef. Regardless of this, steel chef continued to be our trump card.

Shift to the Wooden Platform

The launch of the wooden platform in 2013 that gave us an impetus to test waters of the premium segment of the modular kitchens market. A few years down the journey, Cuisine Regale was launched, it was rebranded as CR and was offered through exclusive boutique stores in Hyderabad & Bangalore. Due to the small size of the market and its saturation with the offerings of premium international players, we realised that competing against the established players was an uphill task. We also found that there were too many players chasing too few enquiries leading to cut-throat competition and loss of margins. We concluded that it would be more lucrative for us to play in the market for small and mid-size ticket value kitchens. The insights gave us important cues for improving our product, service, and experience for taking it to the next level.

The churning made us realise that we ought to have retailers for kitchen solutions, country-wide who can be ‘one stop solution providers’ for all fixed furniture at homes.

This prompted us to widen our portfolio and introduce the customizable wardrobe range Ardra. Ardra offered wall to wall solutions with a superior experience and possibilities of customizations of its Interiors.

A Big Opportunity

The more we sold…the more we realized… that a great potential of business lay in the refurbishing and retrofitting of existing kitchens. We learnt that the convention of retaining marble/ granite countertops was deeply entrenched. Notwithstanding this, our customers were aspiring for modern features that pushed us to develop a new range that could be built around existing countertops. The range, Willow Wok, was introduced in 2017 and was highly successful.

Entry of Global Competitors

As leading global players began setting their shops in India, a flutter was created amongst our channel partners about the viability of Interio’s kitchen business in the face of these competitors. Deep pockets, huge design and technical resources and long trans-national experience were indeed daunting. To alleviate these fears, we took it upon ourselves to study in detail, the offerings of these international brands as our competitors. It was also time for us to introspect on the choices we had made and the decisions we had taken about the hardware and accessories that we were offering. To enhance the competitiveness of our kitchens, we launched in 2019, a range of accessories and corner formed steel fronts. This proved to be a trigger for the introduction of new functional accessories suitable for modern lifestyles. As we were making these changes, we realised the importance of being distinct with exclusive aesthetics. This realisation inspired us to introduce in 2020, a new range of curated fronts and finishes for handles and skirtings.

As these changes began gaining traction in the marketplace, we noticed the emergence of yet another trend, namely, the builders were now offering branded modular kitchens as integral to the homes they were selling. It looked like a win- win situation for both, the buyers of the homes and the builders. The buyers were attracted to such offerings as it took away the cumbersome and time-consuming process of doing up kitchens. The builders were touting this as a good value add as they began claiming that they were making it quicker and easier for the buyers to occupy their homes. This trend proved to be a big challenge for kitchen providers as the builders were expecting steeply low prices. In our case, our existing platforms, simply did not fit the bill, hence we had no option but to develop in 2020, a low-cost platform-Relish kitchens.

Provider of Complete Solutions

A kitchen is incomplete without the essential appliances and equipment like Hobs, Hoods and Sinks.
To establish ourselves as solution providers for the complete kitchen ecosystem, we decided to introduce smart appliances that were meant to eliminate the pains experienced in Indian kitchens and have the potential of shaping the future of kitchens.

This move led us to the introduction of the innovative and patented Neo range of smart appliances like chimneys and active sinks. Besides these, the portfolio had standard options of Interio range of hobs and sinks.

Re-freshing the Old

By now, in 2022 we had developed a new steel kitchen platform- Steel Chef 2.0. The introduction of Steel Chef 2.0 underscored, not only impeccable aesthetics but also enhanced functionalities, easier installation, and improved serviceability. All those improvements that were being demanded by our customers and channel partners.

The rising prices of steel required that steel was optimally used with the aid of value engineering and careful detailing.

It is here, our years of experience in design and manufacturing knock-down steel furniture came in good stead. Designed for maximizing storage volume and the optimal use of vertical spaces in kitchens, our versatile storage units could also be used for storage in homes. Steel Chef 2.0 represents a culmination of the best that Interio kitchens has to offer. It is a bouquet of a range of modern cabinetry augmented with built- in appliances, appliance garages, tall corner units, larders and so on. A complete solution that provides a pathway to modern living and an important weapon in our armoury to compete well against local and international players