Hoffmann wins over Challenging and Demanding India

Pinaki Banerjee
Pinaki Banerjee

Hoffmann is another word for Tools! With more than 80,000 products from 500 brands, along with their own Hoffmann Premium Garant and popular Holex Brands, Hoffmann is the leading system partner for quality tools in Europe. When Hoffmann decided to enter the dynamic emerging Indian Market in 2016, they chose the right one to lead, Mr.Pinaki Banerjee, an Indian born with a global outlook. Within the last two years, Pinaki and his team successfully expanded from the initial base in Pune to different geographies of India and is now a known name in the industry even being a late entrant.

The person behind this success, a confident Pinaki Banerjee, spoke to the Machine Maker team in an exclusive interaction about his journey, and how he is planning to take Hoffmann as a complete solution provider for quality tooling in India.

A Xaverian from Kolkata, Pinaki Banerjee is the Managing Director for Asia-Pacific and India in Hoffmann Quality Tools and is based in Singapore. He is born and brought up in India and was in the famous MAFIA Group during his Post Graduate time, the deadly combination of MBA with Marketing and Finance. After completing education, he worked for many years in India in cities such as Bengaluru and New Delhi and all across the country. At the age of 25, he became the youngest Country Manager of a 125-year-old MNC, Pilkington Glass India, the inventor of glass. He was later asked to relocate to the global headquarters at St. Helen’s, another first in Pilkington to summon from a subsidiary to the headquarters. Generally, people are relocated from the headquarters to the region. This stint proved to be a wonderful experience for Pinaki where he held various esteemed positions. In his last position, he became the first Global Export Director of the company and was managing approx. 80 countries and a business of 200 million dollars. It was during this tenure that he became a British citizen.

Hoffmann was looking to venture into the Indian market, and they were looking for the right person to get the job done. At this juncture, Pinaki was called for a discussion with the Hoffmann CEO and began work for this German company from Singapore. Pinaki became the first employee of Hoffmann in India and then began a subsidiary in the country. Instead of spreading across the country, Pinaki started strategically opening their office in Pune and operating locally. Today, Hoffmann is present in South, West and North parts of India and expanding aggressively with their Technical, Sales and Distributor network. Presently, from Singapore, Pinaki handles the Sales network of India as well as the Asia-Pacific region.

At Hoffmann, Pinaki inculcates his team by stating that there are 3Ps to survive in the business, namely, People, Passion, and Profit. He considers this as the recipe for success in business. His second strategy is that of consultative selling, the USP of Hoffmann in the Indian market. As per this strategy, Hoffmann doesn’t emphasize selling the products but enquiring the customer about the pain points. Further, the team tries to provide a solution to these pain points of the customer. Due to these methods, Hoffmann has become the fastest-growing company in India. In 2016, it was just Pinaki, and now, the company is 70 strong, which indicates massive growth. Presently, it has its Indian headquarters at the World Trade Centre, Kharadi, Pune and a warehousing facility at Chakan, Pune. The company has hotspots in India such as Pune, Aurangabad, Nasik, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Coimbatore and Kolhapur. It has strong technical and product management teams. It adheres to key account management as per which it has tie-ups with international companies. The key accounts are 40–50% of the company’s sales.

Hoffmann is a medium-sized company with a turnover of around 1.2 billion euros. It is a family owned business and will be celebrating the completion of 100 years in 2019. The unique feature of this company is that family caters to the development of the employees along with monetary growth. The Hoffmann Group was founded by Mr. Hoffmann, and presently, the company is owned by his two daughters. Hoffmann has a supervisory board, which consists of owners and professionals. The executive board is responsible for the running of Hoffmann. Martin Reichencker, the Chief Sales Officer, drives the sales operations. He is accompanied by the Chief Operating Officer, HR Head, Finance Head and Product Management Head. In India, Pinaki is supported by Ulrich Öfele, Administrative Managing Director of Hoffmann India Quality Tools Private Limited.

Hoffmann introduces 10,000–15,000 products in the market each year. Due to its efficient methodology, it has become the leading tool supplier in Europe and has plans to replicate this feat in India. To attain this, Pinaki believes in the philosophy of 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Secondly, he exhorts his sales people to follow the AAA principle, which is Activity Activity Activity. As per this, every sales person has to complete 1,000 direct contacts to customers and engage in at least 25 events to get profiles of new customers. Thus, Hoffmann is incredibly customer-centric, and due to this, it has been very well-received by the Indian industry. For the Indian market, the company finalises an Indian Rupee price, which is not changed although the rupee exchange rate changes. The strategy behind this price stability is that when a company enters a market, it should don the investment mode hat and not the profit mode hat. Pinaki considers India to be a very price-sensitive market where the customers are very demanding.

Leading from the front, Pinaki a strong implementer of hard work and is out on the roads for 15–20 days in a month. He has set up four subsidiaries in India in different industries. His opinion is that in India, a businessperson should be comfortable with the uncomfortable, which are the new challenges coming up every day. He states that Indians are conversant with the English language, where they score over other parts of the world.

Pinaki considers himself to be MAD, and encourages his team to follow the same—MAD means Make a Difference, in which each one’s personal contribution to the company is crucial. He considers Lord Ganesha to be symbolic to marketing with big ears to listen and small mouth to talk less. He has a strong belief that in business one must follow the Moral Ethical Legal (MEL) principle and is willing to accompany all those who agree with this precept.

An iPhone has an IP in California, while it is made in China. On similar lines, Hoffmann has an IP in Munich, and the products are manufactured in all parts of Europe and Germany. The company selects the best vendors and provides its customers with optimum products. It has Garant as its premium brand and Holex as the industrial grade brand. Of these, Garant is the third biggest brand in the world. The company also supplies its competitors’ brands. Hoffmann is the largest customer for its competitors. The reason is that it has maximum direct customer contact after years of diligence.

Pinaki has been incharge of 80 countries, has travelled to 90 countries and worked with different teams and nationalities. Nevertheless, India is a passion for him and he loves to come back to India and contribute in some way to his motherland. He strongly believes that because he is born and brought up in India, he is able to tackle the entire world. He has concluded that if a person can perform in India, it is evidence that the person is extraordinary.

On retrospection, Pinaki opines that he has had an excellent journey while working in five different industries. He regards himself as a jack of all trades. From his vast experience, he has gathered that every problem arises from lack of communication, and each problem has a solution. He is a unique blend of Indian and Western values. His immediate goal is to reach the 30 euro million mark for Hoffmann. This can be categorized to be 40% from cutting tools, 30% from hand tools, 20% from workshop equipment and 10% from measuring equipment.

Pinaki is happily married with two kids. His daughter is studying Physics at the Imperial College, London, while his son is in attending school at United World College in Singapore.


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