Of Foresight & Transformation!
Mr Rahul Mehta, President, CMAI, speaks to Kashmira Mirza about the 64th National Garment Fair and other Important issues being faced by the Apparel Industry.
In conversation with Mr Rahul Mehta, President, CMAI
HOW WERE THE TWO DAYS OF THE NGF?
From the feedback that I have received, the first day was much better than what we expected. In fact, the attendance was about 10-12 per cent more than the first day of last January’s Fair—that is very promising. Also, when I spoke to people in the evening, I was told that there is a lot of order booking underway. So, we are all hopeful that it will ultimately be a more successful Fair than the one we had originally anticipated.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ABOUT THE ORGANISATION AND PLANNING OF THE EVENT?
What can I say about my own team’s performance? I think that they are doing a fantastic job. Every year, I see some improvement or the other. This time, in spite of the expectations of a low turnout, the numbers of registration booths have remained the same. Therefore, you will find that there are smaller queues for participants to wait. I think that is a great
improvement. The online registrations have also been very successful, this time. All in all, it was very well-organised.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON DEMONETISATION AND ITS IMPACT ON THE APPAREL SECTOR
Well, like every other Industry, it had a huge impact, in the first couple of weeks. After this, I think the organised retail and the larger players have more or less come back to normalcy— perhaps two to five per cent, either way—but the smaller MBOs are still feeling the impact, to the tune of about 15-20 per cent. This is reflected in the number of orders and the quantity of orders being booked. Each month, however, there is definite improvement. I anticipate that by the end of March or beginning of April, the situation will come back to normal.
IS THE E-COMMERCE WAVE STILL AFFECTING BRICK AND MORTAR BADLY? OR HAVE THEY BEGUN TO COEXIST PEACEFULLY?
I think they co-exist—and the pessimists have realised that brick and mortar establishments are not going to collapse. I think e-commerce has its limitations; to the extent that they cannot continue to exist on a loss-making business model. I think that both sides have geared up to face competition. Ultimately, you will find that e-commerce is just one more channel of distribution, occupying about 15 per cent of the market space—so I think that should be fine.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FROM THE ANNUAL UNION BUDGET?
I am expecting the Government to take several measures to ease consumer confidence and encourage consumption.
HOW ARE YOUR BRANDS DOING?
They are doing very well. Ox7gen, as you know, is only with one format—Central, of Future Group. It is doing very well. We have sharply positioned the brand as one for younger women, between the ages of 18 and 25—so it’s going into fast fashion mode. I am very happy with the initial response, this year.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT EOSS?
EOSS is here to stay, I guess. I still believe that the Industry is placing too much stress on EOSS. I think menswear continues to do slightly better during the EOSS and women’s wear continues to make slightly more money at full prices.
IS ‘ MAKE IN INDIA’ BENEFITTING THE INDUSTRY OR HAS IT BEEN RESTRICTED TO OTHER SECTORS, ACCORDING TO YOU?
Frankly, according to me, the Government has not done enough to encourage ‘Make in India’, as far as the Textile Industry is concerned. However, with the recently announced R6000 crore package now finally having taken shape and actually being executed, I think there will definitely be some growth in the apparel and textile sector
WHAT DO YOUR FORESEE FOR THE APPAREL INDUSTRY, THIS YEAR?
I think it will take until about April or so for normalcy to sink in, and after that I think that after the Diwali season sales, it should be reasonably good.
THE CMAI APP—ANY COMMENTS ON IT? HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL BENEFIT YOUR MEMBERS?
I think it is a fantastic app. A lot of people have downloaded it and are using it. I think it is a superb addition by the Association.
THE NORTH-EAST HAS BEEN A MAJOR FOCUS FOR THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY, LATELY. ANY PARTICULAR REASON FOR THAT?
Well, it’s not the Textile Industry as such which is focusing on the north-east. It is the Government which is focusing on the North-East as an Industry and the CMAI, in particular, are more than happy to cooperate with the Government to this end. CMAI itself has signed two MoUs in Shillong, recently. I was there with the Minister of Textiles to try and encourage the linking of the North-East manufacturers, producers and their products to the mainstream market. So I’m hoping that that will work out.
EACH MONTH, HOWEVER, THERE IS A DEFINITE IMPROVEMENT. I ANTICIPATE THAT BY THE END OF MARCH OR BEGINNING OF APRIL, THE SITUATION WILL COME BACK TO NORMAL.