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.

Apparel - - Contents -

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.

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