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Ludhiana manufacturing giants venturing big time into retail

02 Jan 2019

Apparel Resources

While Ludhiana has been known for manufacturing of knits and woollens since ages, the city has witnessed a change in trend recently with most of the manufacturers expanding their purview to trousers and shirts. Though the city is famous for its hosiery products and also for exports of these products to many European countries, the industry suffered a setback in 2013. The following year brought another jolt to the industry when winters were delayed. Keeping everything in context, the city carved out another way to prosper and shifted towards the retail sector and also diversified its product range in order to remain relevant in the market.

In a brief visit to this growing manufacturing hub of India during the week, Apparel Resources interacted with the top management of major retail brands and manufacturers based in the city.

It is not without proof that Ludhiana is called as the hub of apparel and garment manufacturing. One of the largest retail brands of this city, Octave Apparel has had its share of challenges and emerged as a successful retail brand with a turnover of Rs.250 crore. Yuvraj Arora, Partner, Octave Apparel and his father Balbir Kumar shared with AR about the brand’s extensive expansion plans and also how Ludhiana is competing with the international manufacturing hubs.

I think as far as knits are concerned, not even China can compete with Ludhiana. We pride in offering quality products which are cost-effective. However, the city is yet to upgrade its machineries and technologies. Earlier, there was no competition but now, the city needs to pace up with time. We also outsource around 30- 40 per cent products from neighbouring countries. Raw materials are sourced from China and Korea and most accessories are brought in from Japan while denimwear and sweaters are sourced from parts of India.

As per the top management of Duke Fashions, the manufacturing firms in the city have learned to help themselves and have found their own ways to move forward. Kuntal Raj Jain, Managing Director of the brand and Ravinder Baweja, Head- Retail Sales, Duke Fashions, pride in understanding the nerve of the market and are working towards becoming a one-stop shop for their consumers. They have recently entered the footwear category and are manufacturing from Agra in India and are also sourcing a fair amount from China. Talking about their apparel segment, Baweja said,

In Ludhiana, we have around four factories. We are selling approximately 70 lakh garments per year and around 30-35 per cent out of that is produced by us while the rest is outsourced. We are outsourcing jackets, blazers, sweaters, shoes, trousers, etc. In-house manufacturing includes products like t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters and some jackets.

In totality, the brand sources 8-10 per cent of its products from Bangladesh and China and the remaining 90 per cent is from parts of India and is open to sourcing of more denims and woven from Bangladesh.

However small a firm, Ludhiana has given its industry every opportunity to grow and sustain in the competitive market scenario. Rupesh Puri, Managing Director, Hues Clothing, which deals in t-shirts, sweaters, jackets and lowers for men, emphasized on retailing through distribution networks than through retail outlets, and said,

We source fabrics from China while the manufacturing is done in-house. However, we are open to sourcing from countries like Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries for innovative and good quality products. Our team travels to overseas for design inspirations and also quality products and we do not bound ourselves to a particular vendor.

Though a number of brands and manufacturing firms believe that Ludhiana is unable to cope with the competition, Sandeep Jain, Executive Director, Monte Carlo Fashions Ltd., opines that the city is performing well and is still the hub of winter garments with ease of availability of raw materials which act in favour of Ludhiana. The brand itself is growing at a CAGR of 18 per cent every year and is expecting an impressive turnover for its fourth quarter. Talking about its sourcing patterns, Jain apprised,

Most of our garments are sourced from parts of India except for one or two categories like trousers or denims which are outsourced from Bangladesh. We are also planning to outsource categories like high-end jackets from Taiwan, Vietnam and China. There are few kinds of fabrics as well which are outsourced from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

For Monte Carlo, 25 per cent of its total product range is produced in-house while the rest are outsourced.

Not just manufacturing to retail, Ludhiana has also opened avenues for out-of-the-box retailing. Woollenwear.in is India’s first winter exclusive portal wherein one receives complete knowledge about the appropriate winterwear for a said temperature. The website prides in offering 20-25 brands from Ludhiana, 50 per cent of which are owned by the firm.

Talking about the advantages Ludhiana has over others, Vivek Agarwal, MD of the firm said,

When it comes to quality and reliability, there is no competition against Ludhiana. However, moving forward, there needs to be an ample amount of effort to be brought in by the Government.

The company is also open to sourcing from South Asian countries in the times to come.

The visit to Ludhiana brought in fresh insights about the city as a growing hub for manufacturing and retail brands and also how its industry, with time, has opened more options of sourcing from neighbouring countries in order to move ahead with the market. The city has understood that hosiery business is seasonal and manufacturing takes place from April to November and thus has entered into varied categories for better growth prospects.

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