Trans­form­ing To­day for a Bet­ter To­mor­row!

Mr Rahul Me­hta, Pres­i­dent, CMAI, speaks to Kash­mira Mirza about the 66th Na­tional Gar­ment Fair and other is­sues fac­ing the In­dus­try. Pho­to­graphs: Vikrant Saple

Apparel - - Contents -

In con­ver­sa­tion with Mr Rahul Me­hta, Pres­i­dent, CMAI

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 66TH NA­TIONAL GAR­MENT FAIR?

The fact that the num­ber of Vis­i­tors bet­tered the num­bers from last Jan­uary by over 25 per cent, surely in­di­cated the re­vival of pos­i­tiv­ity in the mar­ket. Of course, like all Trade Shows, some par­tic­i­pants fared well, some so-so, and some not so well. But, this is be­yond the sphere of the or­gan­is­ers, and is in­evitable. From my in­ter­ac­tion with some of the par­tic­i­pants, the over­all re­sponse was en­cour­ag­ing and pos­i­tive.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE OR­GAN­I­SA­TION AND PLAN­NING OF THIS FAIR?

I was very sat­is­fied, es­pe­cially with the ease of reg­is­tra­tion, with more and more Re­tail­ers opt­ing for the on­line route. It re­duced the wait­ing time at the coun­ters, and gave the Re­tail­ers more time with their ven­dors.

HOW DID THE APEX AWARDS FUNC­TION GO AND WHAT WAS THE BUZZ ON THE GROUND LIKE?

This was the first time we had the APEX awards co­in­cide with the Jan­uary Fair, and I think this was a good move. It en­abled many of the Re­tail­ers and Mem­bers who had ear­lier not par­tic­i­pated in the event to do so, and was also eas­ier to or­gan­ise si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

WHAT ARE YOUR RE­AC­TIONS TO THIS YEAR’S BUDGET?

There were no di­rect mea­sures favour­ing or against our Sec­tor, but I think the var­i­ous mea­sures an­nounced to give a fil­lip to the Ru­ral econ­omy should boost con­sump­tion of Gar­ments, es­pe­cially in the Tier Two and Three cities. This should be a big plus.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE GOVERN­MENT’S DE­CI­SION TO AL­LOW 100 PER CENT FDI IN SIN­GLE BRAND RETAIL VIA THE AU­TO­MATIC ROUTE?

I wel­come this, as the con­di­tion of 30 per cent sourc­ing from Do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers re­mains, although in a mod­i­fied form. In any case, I feel In­dian Retail has come of age now, and should be in a po­si­tion to face the com­pe­ti­tion from In­ter­na­tional play­ers.

HAS THE DUST AROUND THE GST IM­PLE­MEN­TA­TION SET­TLED DOWN?

I would think so. Some sec­tors con­tinue to be af­fected, but by and large the In­dus­try has geared up to face the new regime.

IM­PORT DUTY ON USED AND WORN CLOTH­ING HAS BEEN BROUGHT DOWN FROM 12 PER CENT TO FIVE PER CENT. DOES THIS IM­PACT THE DO­MES­TIC GAR­MENT IN­DUS­TRY AND THE IN­DIAN CON­SUMERS?

This is a ret­ro­grade move.

OVER 14 MONTHS LATER, IS THE DE­MON­ETI­SA­TION IM­PACT STILL BE­ING FELT AS HEAV­ILY AS BE­FORE?

Yes – how­ever, the In­dus­try and the con­sumers have now ad­justed to the move.

NOW THAT E-COM­MERCE HAS TAKEN OVER MAIN­STREAM CON­SUMER BUY­ING HABITS, HOW ARE THE TRA­DI­TIONAL RE­TAIL­ERS COP­ING?

The big­gest im­pact that e-com­merce has had on Con­sumer Be­hav­iour is the pref­er­ence for Dis­counted pur­chases. Con­sumers have got ex­posed to and used to much lower prices than what they were ear­lier ac­cus­tomed to – and not too many con­sumers re­alise that most of the time they are buy­ing old mer­chan­dise at dis­counted rates.

This has brought its own chal­lenges to the tra­di­tional Retail, and they have had to come up with in­no­va­tive ways to re­tain/at­tract cus­tomers. Ad­di­tional em­pha­sis on Cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and ser­vice lev­els is the name of the game now.

CON­SUMERS HAVE GOT USED TO THE CON­CEPT OF DIS­COUNTS AND THIS IS UN­LIKELY TO CHANGE IN THE NEAR FU­TURE.

THE ‘END OF SEA­SON SALES’ (EOSS) WAVE IS STILL ENGULFING MALLS; DO YOU SEE THIS AS AF­FECT­ING BUY­ING PAT­TERNS AND HABITS?

As I men­tioned ear­lier, con­sumers have got used to the con­cept of dis­counts, and this is un­likely to change in the near fu­ture.

WHAT DO YOU FORE­SEE FOR THE AP­PAREL IN­DUS­TRY, THIS YEAR?

It will con­tinue to be a tough year, but I see a much health­ier pe­riod as com­pared to the past 12 months.

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