After a tough few months the demand has considerably picked up or has it been consistent for you?
In February, it was one of the warmest February month in recent decades. So, the season was building up well but March and April across the country, barring select pockets in the country in the east, they went a bit on the back foot with occasional rains coming in.But from the beginning of May, we are also seeing a sustained pull in the demand.
Also the entire region in the north and northwest we are seeing temperatures consistently crossing 40 degrees and above, so that is something that is helping all kinds of cooling products. I am sure it is pushing up the sales for air coolers, air conditioners, refrigerators, all the categories related to cooling.
Yes, and that is precisely what I wanted to talk about because you have a 50% market share in coolers if I am correct here. Tell me what the dealer sentiment has been so far.
The dealer sentiment has been what I may call a bit on a roller coaster ride. As you said, the season was building up well, in February most of our channel partners talked up in anticipation of a strong, consistent summer. The sentiments again went through ups and downs in the months of March and April. April, for example, however, in the east of the country we were running stock outs and then it so happened that these dealers were getting worried.
It is only around early May when we started seeing the demand again picking up and as we speak right now dealers are expecting a good run over the next month or so and we are also upbeat that end of the season we may sort of be able to put together the numbers back on the board which had taken a bit of a run rate loss in the last month.
What about the inflation concerns? Has the company been able to pass the full inflation or will you be looking at some price hikes in the portfolio?
We have price hikes for this season and that is the nuance strategy that we follow for every season. So, the answer to your question lies broadly in two parts. Actually, one aspect is, have we taken price rises? Yes, we have taken price rises and in select products the price rises have matched the kind of cost increase that we have had over the past few years.
However, there are also overall, if we look at and compare versus the pre-COVID costs for plastics, for metals and so on, the full extent of cost increase is yet to be built into the prices that we have passed on to the market.
So, versus last year prices are up, versus pre-COVID the prices are yet to take some more sort of upgrade to meet the margins that we had pre-COVID.
What exactly is the consumer sentiment indicating on ground?
Overall, if we consider the hinterland and the non-metros also, the consumer sentiment is pretty robust. As we speak at this point in time if I compare versus last year, the total volumes owing to particular drop in April, the total volumes for cooling products are less than what we had seen last year.
That said, we do anticipate that full season, the market would be at about 12% to 15% growth versus the last year, so that is our sort of projection as we see the growth and the opportunities in the market.
Overall, the consumer sentiment coming back to that, it seems pretty robust and we do see consumers upgrading to products which offer better features, which offer let us say in our case larger tank capacities, newer models, so that is something that we are seeing and hence the consumer seems to be in the right space.