Company Description: The
Bird Group was founded in 1971 with the incorporation of Bird Travels. It has
over 40 years of experience and more than 40 offices supported by over 5500
staff. Today Bird Group’s core business includes travel technology,
comprehensive airline representation & management, hospitality, passenger
aviation services & ground handling, cargo management, education &
training, business consultancy & luxury retail. Together, the various
companies within these verticals generate direct revenue in excess of USD 100
Can you briefly tell us
about the Bird group?
It was started by my parents in 1972. We started off as
agents for Lufthansa till 1992 after which we started diversifying into IT for
travel. So basically we are a travel oriented group. We do a lot of things
within travel like ticketing, representing nearly 15 airlines etc. Over the
years we have grown and we have got five verticals in the group. In travel IT
we are the largest players. We have a market share of maybe 60pc of all travel
transactions that happen across the Indian sub-continent. We are into aviation
services wherein we do ground handling at the airports. We are in into
hospitality and have 6 hotels across the country and the seventh one we have
acquired in London. We have a joint
venture with Dusit from Thailand and there are different categories of hotels.
In London the hotel is called Royal Park. We are into retail as well so we are
agents for BMW and sell their cars. We are the largest distributors for them in
the country. Our Gurgaon outlet is the largest 4S facility for any luxury car
in Asia. We also sell Porsche design from the design house of Porsche. We
manufacture and sell Segways and we are getting more brands in retail. The last
vertical is education.
Coming to Segway, how did
your group get into selling these personal transporters (PT) in India?
Segway Personal Transporter (PT) is an interesting
product. Segway PT is one product which is unique in its proposition. It does
not have any competition and it’s a vehicle that will help you navigate in
places where you can’t have any vehicle going.
The technology behind the vehicle is excellent as well. India is a huge
country and there is always a transportation issue. We saw the potential of the
product and brought it here.
How is it doing now? When
was it launched in India?
It was launched in November last year. We are going to
complete one year at the end of this year. We already have sold 65-70 units
across various segments.
Did you anticipate a huge
demand for that?
It’s not a mass market product as it is a product meant
for specific application purposes. We are talking about airports, campuses,
high net worth individuals etc. As I mentioned all these segments are growing
in our country. As the population grows in this segment so will the demand.
How long will it take for
these segments to grow?
It’s not a product that will sell 10,000 units per year,
there is no intent of that. The price point is very different, besides our
roads are not meant to use the Segway product. If they where to change in the
future, of course, we will move to that level. But on an average our business
plan is to sell 200-300 vehicles on an annualised basis.
How are these products
Even abroad, there is a huge potential for the product
to grow, . Globally Segway PTs sell 7,000-10,000 units a year. We would
eventually get a new market share.
The other vertical you
mentioned is Porsche design. What exactly is that?
Porsche design is all about selling goods from the
design house of Porsche which is men’s luxury. Goods like luggage, pens, phones
too are sold through our own showroom at the DLF Emporio in Vasant Kunj in New
Delhi. Segway does not have a showroom but eventually we shall open one for
But you are also extending
your presence in Emporio, in luxury apparel brands?
As mentioned we have got Porsche design there, we have
planned something else also but nothing has been announced as yet.
Coming back to Segway
products, you are offering consumers two models?
There are only two models that Segaway has--- the i2 and
x2. But any of these two products can be accessorised. You can have different
Currently where is the
demand for the Segway products coming from?
Primarily in airports there is a demand for this
product. We are going to tie-up with a company that uses the product for Out of
Home advertising. So they are putting multiple products at places such as
airports, railway stations for you to operate and with displays around. So it’s
a catchy product and there is an advertising thing done around that.
Is there a possibility for
the price of the Segway PT to come down in future?
The technology in this product is expensive, the
batteries last forever. I guess over the years when the product gets to a mass
market, the prices are going to come down. Is there a timeline for that, no! I
don’t think so. There are a lot of duties, taxes that add to the price of the
Is it imported currently?
built here, in the sense that all the parts are imported. Then the assembly
process happens here. The assembly process is simpler and not expensive but
it’s the parts like the batteries which are imported. This is an electric
vehicle. It’s not a motorcycle, it is not a car, so there is no categorisation
of this product.
Where is it assembled? And
what is the capacity of the unit?
The product is assembled in Gurgaon and the capacity is
to assemble 200-300 units a year.
The government is trying
to promote electric vehicles, so is there a scope for this product to be
Yes, we are in touch with the government. It takes time
obviously, we have to convince them. They promote electric cars and this is not
an electric car. The Segaway PT attracts a VAT of 12pc and scooters have zero
VAT, so we have to convince them.
Currently you have just
one showroom in Delhi. What about other cities?
For Segway we don’t have any showroom. We just retail it
out. If somebody wants it, we send someone for a demo. We have plans but we
have to decide where to have such a showroom, whether it has to be in a mall or
should it be standalone facility. We sell across India and a lot of demand
comes from Mumbai- from the film stars.
Coming back to the price,
is it a deterrent for prospective customers?
Yes, it’s not meant for everybody in the sense that 4
lakh will get you a nice little small car. But there is a segmentation and you
need to use it for a particular purpose. It can be used on the campus or
airport, places you can’t drive vehicles. For eg a lot of people bought this
for steady cam or camera mounted operation, for shooting. An entire IPL team
has bought it for going around in stadiums. There are different applications
and it requires out of the box thinking.
Are your sales confined to
We are only looking at India, Sri Lanka and the
subcontinent. The vehicle is available in these countries but the focus is on
You talked about growth,
you talked about your interests with BMW, Segway, apparels, Porsche design etc.
So where is the focus right now?
Well, there is travel IT- we are No.1 players, aviation
service- we are No.1, hospitality-once more hotels are built we will be a
sizeable player. In retail we are the largest dealers of BMW in the country,
with the largest facility. In education we are No.1 as well. There is no focus
on a particular segment, we are a large group.
Is there any chance to
leverage these businesses?
aviation we do sell private jets, in luxury segment we sell yachts as well. The
person who has a 7-Series will eventually get to an executive jet or yacht, so
customer base remains same. None of that goes to mass market as of now. The
hotels that we are putting in are high-end luxury. The first hotel which opens
up in Delhi will be Dusit Devrana Resort in Delhi. It’s by and large the most
luxurious resort in Delhi or North India that you have ever seen. Dusit is a
company that comes from Thailand, it’s the largest operator for hospitality
there. It’s like Oberois in Thailand, we have a joint venture with them for
management. Devrana is one sub brand, it’s one high-end brand. We are opening
two hotels in Delhi. We have one in Goa, Rishikesh, Jaipur and Kochi.
Are your products confined
to the HNI?
Yes apart from B2B services that we have. If
you travel between Delhi and Mumbai you have probably booked on our reservation
system. Chances are 60pc, if not more!