05 Oct 2018 18:07 IST

Jaquar, fitting right in

With a ₹3,100-crore turnover, the company has achieved ‘super-brand’ status

There was a time when bathrooms stood well away from the main structure of a house; they were relegated to a distant corner of the courtyard. A few decades passed before bathrooms were allowed inside the house (in urban areas) — and even then, they were built in the smallest, most inconvenient spaces possible, so that one could pretend they did not exist. Bathroom fittings were just commodities one installed and forgot about until they caused problems.

All this changed later, when a largely unorganised market created by real estate developers and dealers brought bathrooms and their fittings into the realm of respectability. But even here, imports ruled the day and indigenous brands were practically unheard of.

It was into this discouraging market that NL Mehra took tentative steps forward. He had been in the textile business in Lahore and came to India in 1947 after Partition. In 1960, along with a friend, he founded a company called Essco Sanitations, in Delhi. After a decade of struggle, they established a manufacturing unit in Haryana, in 1972, and introduced bathroom fittings under the brand name ‘Deluxe’. The quality and design of the products ensured their success and Essco built a strong dealer network. By the mid-1980s, Essco had set up two more manufacturing units and became the leader in the North Indian market in its category.

Unfortunately, the partners separated in 1986. The rights to Essco were shared and the next generation stepped in. The company was renamed ‘Jaquar’ after Mehra’s mother Jai Kaur. It was initially in the faucet manufacturing business, expanding its portfolio gradually over the years.

Quality wins

Today, the Jaquar Group is famous for providing complete bathing solutions (with products such as showers, shower enclosures, air-showers, bath tubs, water heaters, water taps, and so on), sanitary ware (flushing units, faucets, sensor taps, cisterns, and wash basins, among other things), wellness products (whirlpools, steam cabins and spas), and lighting solutions (both residential and commercial). While its brand Artize caters to the luxury segment, brand Jaquar is in the premium category, and brand Essco in the value category, delivering functional bath fittings (a special Swachch range of products was launched recently under this category).

Jaquar captured the public imagination to a great extent through the standardisation of product quality and understanding of the Indian consumers’ needs (such as availability of water and space constraints) where bathrooms were concerned. The company also introduced customer care service, which was unheard of in this category earlier.

Perhaps these are the reasons Jaquar today has strong, unaided brand recall among consumers and dominates the bath fittings scene with 60 per cent of the market share. The variegated range of fittings, with coordinated designs, easy installation procedure, and user-friendly aspects, are backed by rigorous quality control tests. Jaquar fittings also boast some special features such as anti-bacterial glaze, odour-free WCs, seamless, gap-free fittings on walls and floors, and soft-closing seats.

Worldwide reach

Jaquar claims to produce 26 million bath fittings and set up 1.9 million bathrooms every year. The company’s global headquarter is located at Manesar in Haryana; it exports to more than 45 countries worldwide. Jaquar has also established display and orientation centres where customers can learn about the products available and understand their features. At present, there are about 22 such centres across the country.

The brand is active on social media and has also come out with an app for complete bathroom solutions.

While the concept of good living has spurred an interest in sanitary ware products and changed people’s perception of brands in this segment, hotels — which have always used premium products — have also found the brands Jaquar and Artize to be useful, especially where maintenance, durability, water-saving measures and hygiene are concerned (self-cleaning showers, low water pressure thermostats, novel flushing systems, and so on).

Jaquar has six manufacturing facilities in India and one in South Korea. These are fully integrated units with all the manufacturing processes such as mould making, casting, and grinding, as well as testing and final assembly under one roof. Its research and development laboratory is accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories and constantly churns out innovative new designs — both functional and aesthetic. It lives up to its tag-line, ‘Proudly made in India, for the world’.

Recent innovations include the ‘hi-flow’ thermostat (which offers hot water even in low-pressure conditions), ‘I-flush’ (which can be fixed directly into the regular pipeline), ‘maze shower’ (with shower nozzles in concentric lines), and ‘hydrolite shower’ (LED shower that changes colour with temperature).

Positive growth

Jaquar has also gone in for inorganic growth through a few careful acquisitions. In 2016, it acquired South Korean luxury shower ‘Joeyforlife’, along with its entire designing and R&D units, and in 2017, Euro Ceramics’ Kutch plant.

The turnover in March 2018 was about ₹3,100 crore, of which the Jaquar brand contributed over 80 per cent. The rest came from Artize, Essco and the lighting segment. As it opens 15 ‘Jaquar World’ showrooms globally, the group aims to touch ₹1 billion by 2022.

Jaquar has always stood out due to its impeccable advertising and promotional strategies, be it the ‘Too good to resist’ campaign that had people rooting for it; the ‘India wakes up to Jaquar freshness’ campaign, which stormed its way into the public consciousness with its aggressive full-page newspaper ads, billboards and banners; or the ‘Melt the day away’ campaign. It also participated in the world’s biggest bath exhibition — ISH in Germany — and wowed visitors with its new designs and concepts.

The company is very aware of its environmental responsibility. Its Manesar headquarters is a net-zero energy building that runs on solar energy and re-utilises all its waste. The building also has the radiant HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system to cut consumption of energy; air handling units with variable drives to conserve energy; water treatment plants to recycle water; water storage units to harness rain water; and other sustainability measures. Even kitchen waste is used to produce cooking gas for the workers’ canteens. The building has the LEED green building certification.

Apart from these measures, Jaquar’s R&D team designs air showers, faucets and flushing systems that conserve energy and water. Many products are now ‘GRIHA-certified green’ (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment). Also, the manufacturing facilities are all zero-waste units, recycling water and brass, even as they generate solar energy.

Super-brand status

Jaquar has taken corporate social responsibility as a guiding mantra and invested in the Jaquar Foundation, where sanitation, health and education are given primary importance. Its aim is to create ‘Swachcha, Swastha Avam Shikshit Bharat’. To this end, it has constructed toilets in schools, sponsored health initiatives for poor patients, offered financial assistance to government schools, set up four training centres for skill development and adopted four villages, providing health care facilities and setting up RO plants for drinking water.

Apart from this, it announced the setting up of 10 specialised centres across India for training youth in plumbing skills, as part of the Skill India initiative of the Indian government.

Jaquar has achieved ‘super-brand’ status for almost 10 years. According to Google trend search (2012-15), it was the most searched bath brand in India. In 2013, AC Nielsen called it the ‘Most trusted fittings brand’. It has won the Elle Décor International Award and Indian Design Mark. Its Artize brand Tailwater faucet won the prestigious Red Dot design award for 2018. Most importantly, it became the first Indian bath fitting manufacturer to win a design award from IF/Plus X of Germany and the Good Design of the US.

Its quality has been globally recognised with certifications such as WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme), ISO, BIS, KIWA (for testing, inspection and certification of devices), PZH (for hygiene) and TISI (Thai Industrial Standards Institute).

Recommended for you