Demand for personal mobility and the anti-China sentiment will be key factors in the growth of India’s helmet industry, says Siddharth Bhushan Khurana, MD of Studds Accessories, a leading wholesale manufacturer and exporter of helmets and motorcycle accessories.
“People do not want to use public transport and they are moving towards two-wheelers. We are also seeing a big uptick in demand for used two-wheelers. Both markets are driving growth for the helmet industry,” he said.
The helmet industry in India has been growing at a rate of approximately 25 percent annually and now Khurana expects a 30-35 percent annual growth rate over the next few years.
With companies wanting to establish alternate supply chains, Studds India has started receiving inquiries from markets where it has no presence yet. The company has been exporting helmets to Europe, Argentina, Mexico, Philipines and Brazil.
“We are seeing a strong anti-China sentiment at the moment and witnessing demand from countries like New Zealand and Cuba where we were not present. The export growth rate would be higher than the domestic growth rate this year. We expect a 60-70 percent growth rate in exports for the next two-three years,” he said.
The company has recently set up a production line for bicycle helmets, mainly for export markets and will soon get into manufacturing helmets for skiing, rugby, football and cricket.
In the last two years, Studds India has invested Rs 200 crore in setting up two new plants which have increased its manufacturing capacity from 7 million units to 14 million units annually. The company sold 6.9 million units in FY20 and despite COVID-19, it is expecting a 10 percent growth in FY21.
“While there were hardly any sales for at least three months due to the lockdown, the company turned its focus to making face shields. We sold 1.5 million face shields in the past few months. Studds is now also manufacturing face masks,” said Khurana.
The company claims to have stopped all imports from China in the last four months. Studds used to import 2 percent of its manufacturing material in the form of helmet graphics from China but is now sourcing the same from Vietnam.
Khurana feels that India’s helmet industry has huge potential going forward as only 60 percent of India’s two-wheeler riders wear helmets. “Greater enforcement would drive demand for helmets and the government can also consider making it mandatory for pillion riders to wear helmets as this would reduce fatalities,” he said.