Interview with Sulin Sugathan, President & Director of Retail at Royal Furniture

Interview with Sulin Sugathan, President & Director of Retail at Royal Furniture

From humble beginnings as a modest upholstery-making unit to becoming a renowned name in the UAE's furniture industry, Royal Furniture has evolved into a renowned name synonymous with quality, affordability, and exceptional customer service in the UAE market. With over three decades of expertise, this furniture store offers a diverse range of high-quality furniture designs crafted in its own manufacturing units.

Step into the world of Royal Furniture as Sulin Sugathan, President and Director of Retail, offers a glimpse into the legacy business's insights, strategies, and vision.

A journey of resilience

In the early '70s, driven by ambition and a thirst for success, Sugathan Janardhanan left his hometown in pursuit of career opportunities. This led him to become a first-generation entrepreneur and mark the beginning of the Royal Palace Group, establishing a modest upholstery-making unit in Ajman in 1991. The chairman’s journey reflects resilience, adaptability, and a bold embrace of new opportunities. His determination fuels Royal Furniture’s approach to business inspiring the team to pursue innovative solutions. Sulin says,

"This steadfast determination fuels my approach to business challenges, igniting a fire to pursue solutions and relentlessly reach our objectives."

Balancing modernity and tradition

With its origins rooted in a modest upholstery-making unit, Royal Furniture remains dedicated to upholding its legacy while navigating modern market demands. Sulin states,

"Our approach honors our heritage while adapting to the demands of the contemporary consumer."

The company's approach revolves around two key principles: a steadfast commitment to craftsmanship and quality, and a proactive embrace of innovation and technology. By investing in artisans, they ensure that every piece meets high standards. Simultaneously, the company stays attuned to industry trends helping it to diversify its product range. While traditional techniques remain integral to their craft, Royal Furniture recognizes the importance of adaptation. Sulin highlights the company's strategy of integrating traditional craftsmanship with modern techniques and materials to meet the demands of the contemporary consumers.

Enhancing customer experience

One of Royal Furniture's distinguishing factors is its commitment to customizing furniture. Sulin comments:

"At Royal Furniture, customization isn't just a service; it's a philosophy that drives us to deliver furniture that is as unique as each customer."

This commitment ensures that every customer's unique tastes and spatial requirements are met, whether it is a specific color, size, or configuration desired. While this enhances the shopping experience for the customers, it also empowers them to create furniture that reflects their personal style and complements their existing decor.

While expanding operations into home furnishing and accessories, it is important to make sure that the new line resonates with the existing customer base. To do so, Royal Furniture leverages its profound understanding of customer preferences and lifestyles. By actively listening to their customers and through meticulous market research, the team acquires invaluable insights into the styles, colors, and themes that captivate their target audience. The new product lines are launched leveraging these insights thus ensuring a seamless alignment with the tastes and preferences of their loyal customers.

Balancing cost and quality

Despite the challenges posed by global supply chains, Royal Furniture is able to offer high-quality products at affordable prices. Sulin explains,

"Royal Furniture maximizes affordability without compromising quality with a local manufacturing unit."

The geographical proximity of its manufacturing unit enables Royal Furniture to streamline its supply chain, reduce costs, and retain control over production processes, ultimately allowing for competitive pricing. Additionally, Royal Furniture holds rigorous training programs for its skilled craftsmen, ensuring that each product meets the highest benchmarks of excellence.

Vertical integration as a strategy

Under Sulin’s leadership, Royal Furniture places a strong emphasis on bolstering vertical integration as a key strategy for ensuring long-term success. He continues,

"By embracing vertical integration, we are poised to build a more resilient and efficient business, ready to thrive amidst evolving industry landscapes while delivering exceptional value to our customers."

With a focus on enhancing efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and quality control, the plan involves seizing control over various aspects of the supply chain, spanning from manufacturing to distribution. This strategy includes expanding manufacturing capabilities, nurturing stronger supplier relationships, optimizing logistics operations, and integrating retail with manufacturing and distribution channels.

Through rigorous quality control measures and strategic technological investments, Royal Furniture aims to solidify its position in the market. This ensures they meet customer needs while also adapting to evolving market dynamics.

Sustainability and innovation

Sustainability and innovation stand as pillars of the company's ethos. These values are deeply rooted in their core, guiding every decision and action taken. Their approach encompasses a focus on sustainable product design and manufacturing processes, continually striving to minimize waste and carbon footprint while prioritizing local manufacturing and energy-efficient practices.

Innovation plays a pivotal role in their trajectory, with investments in state-of-the-art technologies such as automation to elevate efficiency and quality. Their collaboration with designers enables them to explore novel concepts to craft stylish and eco-friendly furniture.

Learning curve

From a single retail outlet to ten stores across the UAE, Royal Furniture's expansion journey is commendable. Sulin emphasizes how the journey has given them valuable lessons. They realized the paramount importance of understanding the unique intricacies of each market in tailoring products and marketing strategies. Spanning from inventory management to store layout, optimizing operations was pivotal in bolstering efficiency and enhancing customer satisfaction. Moreover, the ability to remain agile amidst the ever-evolving retail landscape, adeptly adapting to shifting market trends and economic fluctuations, emerged as imperative for sustained growth and success. These lessons have been instrumental in shaping the company's growth trajectory and commitment to exceptional customer experiences.

Overcoming challenges

Despite boasting a strong portfolio, Sulin mentions a notable challenge the company faced when introducing a new concept store tailored for a younger demographic. Insufficient market research and planning led to unmet expectations upon the store's launch. Sales lagged resulting in an inventory pile up posing a significant hurdle. However, rather than viewing this setback negatively, they embraced it as a valuable learning experience. Sulin says,

"This experience reshaped our approach, emphasizing strategic planning and adaptability to market shifts."

This incident highlighted the critical importance of thorough market research and understanding consumer preferences. The adversity taught them the value of resilience and the significance of aligning business endeavors with the needs of their consumers. It also prompted to adopt a more meticulous and agile operational approach, geared towards meeting the evolving market demands.

Visions for the future

Sulin Sugathan aims to expand their presence locally by strategically opening new stores across the UAE and broadening its product range to appeal to a wider audience. Royal Furniture aspires to become a global brand synonymous with unmatched quality and craftsmanship. Their strategy involves capitalizing on their esteemed reputation and expertise to explore new market opportunities, forge partnerships with local retailers, enhance their online presence, and tailor their offerings to meet diverse cultural preferences and tastes.

With these initiatives, Royal Furniture is poised to establish a significant presence both locally and internationally, solidifying its position as a leader in the furniture industry.

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Shahba Mayyeri

Written by Shahba Mayyeri

Shahba is a Content Creator at HiDubai with 3 years of experience in crafting compelling stories and articles. She holds a Master’s degree in Media and Communications from MAHE Dubai.
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