Seat cover manufacturer, which dominates the Indian car seat aftermarket with its popular Autoform brand, is now making speedy inroads in the direct-OEM-supply segment with its trim fabrics.
Dehradun-based RP Group, which is known through its aftermarket car seat cover brand – Autoform – is likely to close FY2023 with overall revenues touching Rs 600 crore. The company, which dominates the aftermarket car seat cover industry with its wide variety of leatherette seat covers retailed through its over-225 franchise partners across India, is now looking to grow its business in the direct-OEM supply segment.
RP Group now aims to expand its trim business that supplies upholstery directly to car companies or their seat suppliers from its plants in Dehradun, and a recently established unit in Pune. While the Group was incorporated in 1989, the trim business is relatively new and was started only four years ago. It currently supplies trim fabric to Tata Motors and is soon expected to become a vendor to Mahindra & Mahindra as well.
“Up until 2018, cars would come with fabric seats, and only now car interiors have started to become more sophisticated with vehicles coming equipped with leatherette upholstery straight from the factory. This gave us the opportunity to venture into this space and expand our business,” Siddharth Gandhi, key promoter, RP Group, told Autocar Professional.
The trim business is set to contribute about Rs 200 crore to the Group’s overall FY2023 revenues, with the share of this business only expected to grow faster in future. The new greenfield plant, set up in Pune in the second half of CY2022, supplies trim fabric to Tata Motors and its seat suppliers, for application in the carmaker’s Nexon EV, Harrier and Safari SUV models, which have factory-fitted leatherette seats.
State-of-the-art document stitching tech
The seat cover manufacturer has an installed capacity to produce 80,000 sets of car seat covers every month across its 14 manufacturing plants (13 in Dehradun and one in Pune). At present, it is utilising about 70% the installed capacity. “There is scope for expansion within our existing facilities depending on market requirements, and we can quickly scale up our output by adding additional working shifts,” said Gandhi.
The company deploys a special ‘document stitching’ technology to stitch covers for seats equipped with side airbags. “We deploy state-of-the-art Durkopp Adler machines which ensure that every stitch is documented by the virtue of their connectivity to the Internet. While this ensures that the stitches are correct, there are special materials and threads being used that allow the side airbags to deploy from within the seat covers in case of an impact,” he explained.
At an estimated Rs 600 crore, the RP Group will have doubled its turnover in FY2023 , and has made considerable investments over the past couple of years to realise this revenue growth. While about 30-35% of the business comprises OEM trim supplies, the remaining comes from the aftermarket as well as from its seat cover supplies to OEMs, which retail these covers from their authorised showrooms as part of their genuine vehicle accessories portfolios.
The company has direct vendor codes with major OEMs – some of its key passenger vehicle customers in India are Maruti Suzuki, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Hyundai Motor India, Kia India, Skoda Auto India, Volkswagen India, Honda Cars India, and Mahindra & Mahindra. Of the two-wheeler OEMs, the RP Group directly supplies finished seat covers to Hero MotoCorp, Royal Enfield, TVS, Yamaha, and Suzuki Motorcycle India.
“We are looking to expand our portfolio and when it comes to OEM trims, we have also started doing dashboards and door pads. We are open to dress up or decorate areas of a car’s interiors like dashboards and armrest consoles, which demand cutting and stitching competencies. We are open to covering these parts as well. We can cut and stitch any kind of material, be it fabric, genuine or artificial leather or suede. These are the things that we want to add into our portfolio, and we are making speedy inroads,” concluded Gandhi.
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