SME Times News Bureau | 17 Sep, 2012
Like many other companies from this tiny Nordic nation, Finnish engineering and services major Kone is upbeat about its prospects in India as it believes rapid urbanisation will lift hopes of selling more elevators and escalators in this market.
"The Indian (elevator and escalator) market grew moderately in the last few years despite economic uncertainities," Matti Alahuhta, president and chief executive of Kone, told to a news agency in Helsinki.
India is the second biggest market after China for the Finnish firm, the fourth largest maker of elevators in the world and a leading maker of escalators.
Alahuhta said Kone expected the rate of urbanisation in India to double in the next 15 months and hence the firm's optimism.
"In India, Kone grew from being number two in 2005 to number one in terms of new equipment," he said, adding that his company's market share in the country is 20 percent.
In terms of services, Kone now ranks second in India.
According to Alahuhta, Asia is the biggest market for the elevator and escalator and would see the fastest growth in coming times.
Kone started business in India more than 25 years ago and currently has 3,175 employees in the country, its fourth largest workforce after China, the US and France.
"In view of the growing demand from the Indian market, Kone is going to invest in a new factory in Chennai by 2014 as the existing factory there has become too small," Alahuhta said.
The research and development (R&D) centre in Chennai is among Kone's global R&D network of centres.
The manufacturing centre in the south Indian metropolis produces elevators for the Indian market with some exports to Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
"We see affordable housing as the fastest growing residential segment in India," he said.
He stated that the office segment in India was showing signs of recovery while there was still a shortage of capacity in the hotel segment.
"Kone is actively involved in the tendering for metro rail projects in India. Major airports in India are also on the expansion mode and we see a big market there," Alahuhta said.
In line with other Finnish companies, Kone too is going the clean technology way.
"We are leading in cutting down energy consumption (by Kone machinery) by 50 percent from 2008 to 2010," the Kone head said.
Hanna Uusitalo, environmental director of Kone's global technology, said that the company was focusing on net zero energy buildings.
"Net zero energy buildings are self-sufficient in geothermal energy and solar panel use. The idea is to have a technology so that the building can sustain on its own energy generation," she explained.