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
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.