Out of 19,000 Punjab schools, 10,000 have no furniture:Controller and Auditor

CHANDIGARH: Ever wondered why Punjab is at the 21st spot in literacy rate in the country? Here are some reasons. As many as 10,341 schools in Punjab do not have benches or desks for students of primary and upper primary sections, revealed a Comptroller and Auditor (CAG) report tabled in the assembly on Tuesday. There are overall 19,962 schools for students of classes 1-8 under the Centre's Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan (SSA) scheme. The report also disclosed that 405 schools did not even have classrooms, resulting in students studying in the open. It also said that 26 school buildings in Patiala district had been declared unsafe, with several accidents, forcing 4,826 kids to study in open space. It also revealed that 69 schools in Punjab are operating from rented buildings or buildings under construction while 286 did not have playgrounds.The report also takes a dig at the teaching facilities. The auditor found that 1,170 primary schools in Punjab are operating with just one teacher and 572 upper primary schools have less than three teachers during the past five years. According to the Right To Education Act (RTE), there should be at least two teachers in a primary school and three in upper primary schools. The CAG also found that Punjab government spent around Rs 6.76 crore more than the allocated fund (Rs 45.13 crore) for buying books for primary and upper primary students between 2013-16. The SSA provides for free text books to all children of government, government aided, local body schools and aided Madarsas. The ceieling for textbooks for each child at primary school is fixed at Rs 150 and Rs 250 for upper primary school.

Germany's Otto sees strong online sales of furniture

BERLIN, March 28 (Reuters) - Otto, Germany's second-biggest e-commerce company after Amazon, reported comparable sales rose 5 percent in its 2016/17 fiscal year, driven by online furniture and fashion and strong growth at its Hermes logistics arm in Britain. Headline sales rose 3.4 percent to 12.5 billion euros ($13.6 billion) in 2016/17, but increased by 5 percent on a comparable basis after stripping out the impact of disposals, including French e-commerce firm 3SI. Many big furniture chains were slow to embrace e-commerce, put off by the cost of delivering bulky goods and concerned whether shoppers would be prepared to make expensive purchases without seeing them in person. But online furniture sales are now growing quickly, prompting Swedish budget retailer IKEA to invest in online shopping and experiment with pick-up points and smaller shops. The Otto Group, a family-owned mail order firm founded in 1949 which shifted into e-commerce and now runs more than 100 webshops worldwide, said in a statement on Tuesday its online sales rose 10 percent to 7 billion euros in the fiscal year to Feb. 29. Otto's logistics business Hermes, which competes with players like Deutsche Post and Royal Mail, saw turnover rise 5 percent to 1.57 billion euros, but increase by more than 11 percent taking into account the impact of a weaker sterling after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Otto's biggest business, the OTTO site in Germany, saw sales rise 6 percent to 2.72 billion euros, helped by sales of furniture. Otto's U.S. home furnishings site Crate and Barrel saw sales rise 10.7 percent to 1.48 billion after it overhauled ranges under new management. ($1 = 0.9211 euros) (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter)

Rs 500 crore government nod to buy primary school furniture

BHOPAL: In a respite to students of government primary schools who are used to sitting on floor in classrooms, the state government will be spending Rs 500 crore to make furniture available in schools this year. An official statement of the state government issued on March 26 states that the government has made a provision of Rs 500 crore for facilitating furniture in government school. Similarly, another Rs 80 crore would be spent on whitewashing government school buildings. The government is also mulling to establish a sports stadium at a cost of Rs 50 lakh, it adds. The government seems to have woken up after a recent survey, which found that more than 94% of schools in 13 districts of MP, including state capital Bhopal, lack basic infrastructure. The study conducted by Child Rights and You (CRY) in 190 schools, including 141 primary and 42 secondary schools with 14, 983 students, found that there are "significant infrastructural gaps" in compliance of the Right to Education Act, 2009, even six years after the Act was implemented. The survey was conducted in schools of Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, Khandwa, Mandla, Rewa, Satna, Shehdol, Shivpuri, Umaria, Chhatarpur, Damoh and Vidisha districts. The study found that as many as 183 schools have no benches for students. In the remaining seven schools, three did not have sufficient number of benches. Moreover, sources in education department said over 60% middle schools do not have desks at all. "In the absence of benches, table and chairs, students in state-run primary and middle schools are being made to sit on tattered carpets laid out on uneven floors. This is not only bad for students' health but it also affects school education at large," sources added. MP teachers' association president Mukesh Sharma said lack of furniture is a major problem in the state. "Making kids sit on the floor is undoubtedly a major issue in rural areas. No one even bothers to inspect these schools," he said.

Furnish your first home

If you are keen on designing the interiors gradually, here are a few tips: Seating If you haven't bought furniture as yet, spread some colourful dhurries or straw mats. Lamps Colourful lampshades made of rice paper looks trendy.A hanging lamp in the kitchen above the cooking area should throw light on what you will be dishing up. A fluorescent lamp is perfect for the bathroom and conserves energy even if you would want to leave it on the entire night till you are used to getting your way around the wash basin and tub. Fan It is the most essential fixture, especially if you are moving in during the summer season. A table fan or one on a pedestal should do just fine. The fan can switch rooms till you go in for a decorative piece later. Or, you could go in for a decorative fan with lights combination. Pots and pans Buy a set of cups, plates and spoons and you can have a tiny selfc-ontained kitchenette. You could add on the delicate chinaware as you settle down. Stove Go in for a small gas cylinder with cooking top that FITS in the shelf easily. Bedroom Get a right sized mattress for two instead. Even if it doesn't have a bed to go with it right now, you could always make one to FIT the mattress later. Curtains Simple, functional curtains that keep away the cold and bright sunlight should be your first priority for the living area. Readymade drapes and drapery rods are easily available off the shelf. Bins and buckets A couple of buckets in the bathroom always come in handy. Garbage and waste paper bins in the bathroom and kitchen are must haves. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Furniture company hit with email attack

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, one of Alexander County’s largest furniture employers, notified its employees and the public in the past week that the company was the victim of a cyber attack. Mitchell Gold, co-founder and Chairman of the manufacturing company, confirmed to The Times that the company released the following statement on Jan. 30: “What Happened? On January 23, 2017, we discovered our company was the targeted victim of an email spoofing attack whereby an unauthorized person obtained certain employee information. As soon as the company discovered the fraudulent nature of the spoofing attack we began working tirelessly to investigate and to mitigate the impact of the attack. The day we discovered the fraudulent spoofing attack we notified the Internal Revenue Service, and the following morning we met with the Alexander County Sheriff and Sheriff’s Office detectives to commence an investigation. “What We Are Doing. The confidentiality, privacy, and security of our employee information is one of our highest priorities. MGBW has stringent security measures in place to protect the security of information in our possession. We do not believe that the individual who obtained the employee information accessed our computer networ or that our IT systems were otherwise compromised by this attack. In addition, as part of our ongoing commitment to the security of personal information in our care, we are working to implement additional safeguards and provide additional mandatory training to our employees on safeguarding the privacy and security of information on our systems. As noted above, we have contacted the IRS and the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office, the latter of which is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and we have contacted the relevant state Attorneys General. “In addition, we are taking other measures to assist our employees with this matter; one such measure is our immediate arrangement with Equifax, one of the leading U.S. credit reporting agencies, to provide identity theft protection services at no charge to our employees. “Anyone having information that leads to an arrest in this matter, should contact the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office at (828) 632-2911. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is also offering a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest in this matter,” the statement read. Source:taylorsvilletimes.com

5 online furniture startups to watch out for in 2017

Four years ago, if you had told me about buying furniture offline, I would have laughed. But things have changed, and now I cannot think of another way to get my furniture. Making rounds of multiple stores to find the items that fit my tastes is just too much effort, even for an essential, high-ticket purchase. While this is the tale most urban customers will tell, it isn’t the only reason for buying furniture online — more options in terms of design and pricing are other important factors, and startups have fully capitalised on them. While the sector’s early beginners like Pepperfry and Urban Ladder have the upper hand with marketplace and inventory models respectively, youngsters like design platform Livspace and rental startup Furlenco have also established themselves. Furniture is one of those few categories in e-commerce where quality triumphs over discounts. Since different models target different consumer segments, innovations are already coming up. The following are the five online furniture startups we think will make a change in 2017. 1) Gozefo: This online marketplace specialises in secondhand and factory second furniture and appliances. Gozefo was founded in 2015 by Rohit Ramasubramanian, a former Helion Venture Capital executive, IIT graduates Karan Gupta and Himesh Joshi, and ex-Flipkart and ex-Amazon executive Arjit Gupta. They recently raised Rs40 crore from Sequoia India, BEENEXT, and Helion Ventures. Claiming a monthly growth rate of 40 percent, they serve in Bengaluru, Mysore, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, and Mumbai, and sell 400–500 products a day. 2) Homefuly: This Bengaluru-based online platform makes your new home ready to move in by providing not just furniture but home automation, lighting, gardening, as well as paintings and soft furnishings. Collaborating with interior designers, factories, and vendors, they have served about 100 customers so far. homefuly-founders_l-r-arnab-saharoy-madhu-sarangi-vinay-indresh Homefuly founders (L to R): Arnab Saharoy, Madhu Sarangi, Vinay Indresh Founded in September 2015 by Arnab Saharoy (ex-Myntra), Vinay Indresh (ex-Flipkart), and interior designer Madhu Sarangi, Homefuly recently started an omnichannel model by tying up with 12 offline stores. The 10-member team plans to expand to Pune and Hyderabad this year. With a profit margin of 10–15 percent, they have earned Rs 4 crore in revenue this fiscal year, and are targeting Rs 10–12 crore in FY 2018. 3) Helpmebuild: Founded by Prasoon Shrivastava in February 2015, this technology-centric platform with a managed marketplace model focuses on interior design and architecture-related ideas along with sharing content on designs. Helpmebuild delivers furniture and décor products in more than 1,000 pin codes, and works on projects across India as well as the US, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa. A team of 25 people, they have more than 10,000 users registered on the platform. In FY 2015–2016, Helpmebuild saw an annual turnover of Rs 80 lakh. 4) Homestudio: The one-year-old Bengaluru-based startup provides design, execution, and customer service for designing kitchens and furniture online with the assistance of trained designers. They have partnered with brands in Italy, Romania, and Germany for manufacture. Homestudio founder Alok Duggal Homestudio founder Alok Duggal To provide touch and feel before the purchase of furniture, they have an experience zone too. Founded by Alok Duggal, HomeStudio got investment of $5 million from BRENCorporation owner Bhoopesh Reddy in the same year. Homestudio claims to sell for Rs 75,000 what would otherwise cost Rs 3 lakh or more. Homestudio has a 51–member team now, and have done 650 installations so far. 5) WoodenStreet: This Jaipur-based startup provides readymade as well as customised solutions for home furnishing needs with affordable, space-saving, and multi-utility furniture. They manufacture the furniture themselves and follow an inventory model. WoodenStreet was co-founded by Lokendra and Virendra Ranawat, Dinesh Pratap, and Vikas Baheti in 2015. Within 18 months, they have had 100 employees, more than 5,000 customers, and Rs 12 crore in yearly revenue from 12 cities. WoodenStreet was among the 10 innovative startups at SINE IIT Bombay for startup speed engagement. Recently, they also got recognition at Hindustan Times’ Excellence Awards 2016. India’s furniture sector is 90 percent unorganised. Of the organised, only one percent is online. According to a Redseer Consulting report, the home furniture industry in India was worth $25 billion in 2016, with the online furniture industry alone making up $250 million. By 2020, the furniture industry is expected to grow to $35 billion, and the online section will be worth $700 million. Since logistics is a major challenge (and costs 10–15 percent of value in the online furniture industry) the omnichannel model will see more growth this year. With the Swedish furniture giant IKEA’s impending entry into India, Indian competitors will have to venture into smaller cities. For Pepperfry and Urban Ladder, 80 percent of orders come from Tier-I cities. Horizontal marketplaces such as Snapdeal and ShopClues are also building on this category. But the younger players are taking it beyond metros, and this could be the beginning of the organisation of the furniture industry in general. Source:yourstory.com

Sleepwell mattresses maker Sheela Foam to launch IPO on 29 November

Promoter Polyflex Marketing to sell a part of its holding through the IPO for an estimated Rs510 crore. Mumbai: Sheela Foam Ltd, the maker of the Sleepwell brand of mattresses, will launch its share sale on 29 November.Polyflex Marketing Pvt. Ltd, the company that controls Sheela Foam, will sell a part of its holding through the initial public offering (IPO). The offer for sale will see the promoter entity sell shares worth Rs510 crore. The company has fixed a price band of Rs680-730 per share for the issue. The sale will end on 1 November. ICICI Securities Ltd and Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd are managing the share sale for Sheela Foam.Mint reported on 10 November that Sheela Foam will sell shares to the public for the first time in November.In addition to the Sleepwell brand, Sheela Foam, incorporated in 1971, also makes other foam-based home comfort products targeted primarily at Indian retail consumers, as well as technical grades of polyurethane foam (PU foam) for end-use in a wide range of industries. The Sleepwell brand was introduced in 1994.The company’s home comfort line includes products such as mattresses, furniture-cushioning, pillows, cushions, sofa-cum-beds, as well as PU foam cores used for making finished home comfort products. “Our technical foam business caters to various end-use industries such as foams for power generators, industrial filters, electronic packaging, shoe industry and helmets, among others,” said Rahul Gautam, managing director of Sheela Foam.Technical foam contributes to 20% of the company’s business.It also supplies foam to online furniture companies such PepperFry and UrbanLadder, he said.According to Gautam, the mattress industry is expected to continue to grow strongly. “Of the almost Rs9,000 crore mattress market, only about 30% or Rs3,000 crore is organized. The growth of the market will be driven by a growing movement of customer preference towards the organized market,” he said.The implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) will also benefit the company, said Gautam. “Today, our logistics is oriented state-wise because of tax reasons. However, with GST we will be able to reorganize the logistics to better serve our markets. GST will also create a level playing field for different mattress types,” he said.Sheela Foam also has a presence in Australia, manufacturing PU foam through its subsidiary Joyce Foam Pty Ltd. It acquired the company in 2005. In fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16, revenue from the sale of home comfort products aggregated to Rs916 crore and Rs1,016.4 crore, constituting 64.6% and 65.5%, respectively, of Sheela Foam’s total revenue for these years.According to Crisil Ltd, based on revenues, Sleepwell branded mattresses constituted a share of around 20-23% of the organized Indian mattress market as of 2015-2016. Sheela Foam has 11 manufacturing facilities in India and five in Australia. It has a nationwide network of more than 100 distributors and around 5,000 dealers. The company also exports its products to almost 25 countries, according to its website.Sleepwell in India competes with other home-grown brands such as Kurlon Enterprise Ltd, Springfit, and Springwel Mattresses Pvt. Ltd. Source:livemint

Target India announces fourth batch of Target Accelerator Program

Target India

Furniture rental startup Furlenco to deliver furniture in 6 hours

Bangalore-based online furniture rental startup Furlenco has launched the Phat-a-Phat campaign to deliver furniture within 6 hours or less during the Gandhi Jayanti weekend. The offer is open to customers in Bengaluru from October 2nd to 4th. "We usually deliver in 24 hours but this time, we've decided to take it a notch higher and deliver in 6 hours. The three-day campaign is a revolutionary move to benefit the time-crunched individuals as well as people who know they're going to move cross-country within a set time period," said Ajith Mohan Karimpana, CEO & Fouder of Furlenco. "E-commerce and web business players in the furniture industry usually take anywhere between ten and fifteen days to deliver furniture, whereas the brick and mortar stores might deliver in two to seven days," he said further. To avail the benefits of the three-day campaign, all the orders must be placed between 10am and 5pm and the 6-hour countdown will be set in motion once the customer pays a nominal booking fee and submits his/her documents via email. As part of their service, Furlenco charter furnitures with matching furnishings and decor on a monthly subscription fee starting at Rs 999. The service also includes free doorstep delivery and installation. Furlenco which recently raised $6 million from Lightbox Ventures, will looking at other cities for expansion too.

Taking luxury outdoors

This issue of Food & Hospitality World gives a glimpse of the latest trends in outdoor furniture and how outdoor furniture manufacturers in the country are introducing innovative designs to be at par with their international counterparts By Rituparna Chatterjee Be it hotels, restaurants or cafes, the desire to bring the look and comfort of their indoors into the outdoors has now become their priority concern. Hence, today we see the Indian furniture market being flooded with a variety of outdoor furniture. They are available in different styles, shapes, sizes and colours. Trends come and go but only a few manage to bring about a dramatic change into the outdoor space they belong to. Rattan and wicker furniture have been a part of this change, revolutionising the furniture trends of the hospitality industry, not only in India but also worldwide.