As India's living and office spaces undergo a major transformation with innovative solutions, the thrust is on digitally-driven, energy-efficient and aesthetically rich greener buildings made with resource-efficient light construction materials—such as special glasses that control the sun's heat and lighting in the room. Glass windows at the office cabin of B Santhanam, CEO, Asia Pacific and India Region of Saint-Gobain, sport a different look and feel. Its glass walls and facade has a tint of grey at the top and turn white going down. The smart and green office has lean, minimal furniture and partitions that are aesthetically designed and decorated.

The French construction major accounts for over 50% of India's installed capacity in float glass and gypsum. It also has a significant market share in construction chemicals, abrasives, ceramics and life sciences solutions, and offers a complete range of building solutions.

Offices and homes are going to become smart and green, says Santhanam, who is also Chairman of India's largest building materials maker Saint-Gobain India, part of the more than three-century-old French multinational Saint-Gobain.

The survey—held virtual among nearly 5000 potential buyers between January and June—also had revealed affordable housing is not a preference post the Covid-19 pandemic as just 27% of respondents prefer houses less than ₹45 lakh, and about 35% prefer to have houses in the range up to ₹90 lakhs. Santanam notes that people are also willing to invest another ₹10-20 lakhs in furnishing and designing interiors to suit their tastes and preferences.

Early this month, Saint Gobain India acquired a minority stake in Livspace—a digital-first intermediation platform that offers end-to-end solutions for home interiors, design and installation, and with an annual customer base of over 20,000 customers. Santhanam says the company is investing part of the ₹2500 crore committed for India in brownfield and greenfield expansions, mainly in green solutions and digital platforms. Plans are to develop a B2C model to create awareness about Saint Gobain's products among end customers. The company has also introduced the concept of "MyHome" branded experience stores, which offers new-age home products—windows, shower cubicles, mirrors, ceilings, shutters, kitchen furnishings, roofing products, mirrors etc.

"We are also constantly exploring acquisition opportunities in India's building solutions space", he says.

Riding on India's need for more homes and buildings, Saint-Gobain is targeting to triple its revenues to over ₹30,000 crore within the next decade and is planning to invest ₹2,500 crore in the next two years. "In the last two decades, we were growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% and grew by 30 times in India. Considering the Indian economy's high growth potential in this decade, we will be investing to triple revenues by 2031 from the current run rate of ₹10,000 crore a year", says Santhanam. About 65% of ₹10,000 crore revenues come from building construction solutions, and nearly 95% of the products sold in India are made in India. It also exports about 16-17% of production to other markets.

Saint-Gobain—with global revenues of €38.1 billion in sales and employing more than 167,000 people globally in 2020—has so far invested over ₹8,000 crore in India. Saint Gobain's parent, on Monday, acquired U.S.-based speciality construction chemicals company GCP Applied Technologies in a deal that values GCP at around $2.3 billion.

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