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Un­til a decade back, no­body would have imag­ined that Chi­nese sewing tech­nol­ogy gi­ants will one day take over the Euro­pean com­pa­nies con­sid­er­ing the neg­a­tive per­cep­tion of the in­dus­try. How­ever, de­fy­ing all per­cep­tions, Jack Sewing Ma­chine Co., Ltd. has ac­quired top Euro­pean brands Bullmer, MAICA and Vibe­mac in less than a decade and is lead­ing rapidly to be­come the world’s top man­u­fac­tur­ing group of sewing ma­chin­ery and equip­ment. Team StitchWorld, in an ex­clu­sive con­ver­sa­tion with Ruan Jix­i­ang, Founder of Jack Group, China, re­veals the growth per­spec­tives of the sewing tech­nol­ogy provider.

Hav­ing orig­i­nated in 1995, Chi­nese sewing ma­chine brand Feiqiu Sewing Ma­chine was re­named as Jack Sewing Ma­chine Co. Ltd. in the year 2000. The idea be­hind re­nam­ing was to step out from the do­mes­tic mar­ket and en­large the com­pany’s foot­prints in the over­seas mar­ket. It’s a fact that the ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ants of to­day like In­dia, Bangladesh and Viet­nam were in their de­vel­op­ment phase back then and were get­ting strong at­ten­tion from over­seas ap­parel buy­ers in early 2000 and that’s what Jack sensed. Jack grad­u­ally started mak­ing its own space in these prom­i­nent hubs which were sure to grow big­ger with time. With con­tin­u­ous ef­forts and pre­cise strate­gies over the years, Jack has emerged as one of the lead­ing sewing ma­chine man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world with US $ 330 mil­lion turnover in 2018.

SW: First of all, con­grat­u­la­tions on Prime Min­is­ter’s re­cent visit to Jack fac­tory. What were the out­comes of his meet­ing with you? Do you think his visit will help you pop­u­larise Jack brand even more?

Ruan: To be hon­est, ever since we ac­quired some renowned in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies such as Bullmer, MAICA and Vibe­mac, a buzz was cre­ated in the coun­try which at­tracted the at­ten­tion of our Gov­ern­ment. Prime Min­is­ter Li Ke­qiang came to check our man­u­fac­tur­ing unit and his visit shows that the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment is also sup­port­ing pri­vate sewing tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies like Jack in their en­deav­our to grow even more. Also, the Gov­ern­ment knows that we are fo­cus­ing a lot on in­tel­li­gent so­lu­tions of the sewing ma­chine equip­ment. Prime Min­is­ter Li is hope­ful that Jack can be an ‘air­craft car­rier’ lead­ing the sewing mar­ket and we, as Jack team, are geared up by his visit to cre­ate more tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tions so that we can drive our com­pany to new heights in fu­ture with Gov­ern­ment sup­port.

More­over, we have re­cently been al­lot­ted a land by the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment in Taizhou for our new ‘in­tel­li­gent’ man­u­fac­tur­ing base. So, we are quite hope­ful that in the next three to four years, we will be able to be­come the first com­pany ever to man­u­fac­ture sewing ma­chines us­ing ro­bots in pro­duc­tion lines.

SW: Jack stated last year that it tar­geted 35% growth in 2018 over 2017. You have al­ready crossed this tar­get in In­dia and other main coun­tries. What are the fac­tors that bol­stered this growth?

Ruan: We fol­low just one mantra: fo­cus on the cus­tomers’ de­mand and sense their need. Firstly, we have those kind of prod­ucts which the In­dian mar­ket as well as Bangladesh and Viet­nam re­ally de­mand. We have

It’s a fact that the Euro­pean qual­ity is un­beat­able but it is also a fact that it’s ex­pen­sive and not ev­ery­one can af­ford it. We have a very strong man­u­fac­tur­ing base in China; while Vibe­mac has very strong R&D and high-end tech­nol­ogy cen­tre in Italy. We can merge these oper­a­tions to get ad­van­tages on a larger scale.

cap­tured the pain points of the im­por­tant mar­kets and have so­lu­tions to elim­i­nate the chal­lenges end- users face on the sewing floor. We can claim we have the fastest ser­vice in the sewing in­dus­try right now. In­dia is the big­gest mar­ket for us with US $ 63 mil­lion sales turnover in 2017. We have opened five au­tho­rised ser­vice cen­tres across all ma­jor gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing hubs of In­dia in the last few years. More than 100 In­dian tech­ni­cians have been trained by us and our own ex­perts are serv­ing the in­dus­try to­day as well. We also pro­vide train­ing to our sub deal­ers and small level dis­trib­u­tors. All such ef­forts have been highly re­ward­ing for us.

SW: First Bullmer, then MAICA and now Vibe­mac… China is the world’s largest denim gar­ment pro­duc­tion base; there­fore, the ac­qui­si­tion of Vibe­mac will also help Jack to quickly in­tro­duce the Ital­ian pioneer in the Chi­nese mar­ket as well as strengthen its po­si­tion in other Asian coun­tries with Jack’s strong chan­nel ad­van­tages. What is your key strat­egy af­ter this ac­qui­si­tion?

Ruan: In Au­gust 2017, I went to In­dia for a few days to check the denim mar­ket over there.

I saw many big denim fac­to­ries us­ing Vibe­mac ma­chines and they are ac­tu­ally pro­duc­ing very fine qual­ity jeans. Vibe­mac is un­doubt­edly an ex­cel­lent com­pany for jeans au­to­ma­tion. It’s a fact that the Euro­pean qual­ity is un­beat­able but it is also a fact that it’s ex­pen­sive and not ev­ery­one can af­ford it. We have a very strong man­u­fac­tur­ing base in China; while Vibe­mac has very strong R& D and high- end tech­nol­ogy cen­tre in Italy. We can merge these oper­a­tions to get ad­van­tages on a larger scale and the cost of man­u­fac­tur­ing Vibe­mac jeans au­tomats will surely re­duce if the man­u­fac­tur­ing base is shifted to China. As a re­sult, Vibe­mac can see more in­vest­ment from In­dia and Bangladesh which are price-sen­si­tive mar­kets. I also want to add that Vibe­mac is not just meant for den­ims as its ma­chines are also used for man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­sual cot­ton trousers and, need­less to say, In­dia and Bangladesh have huge man­u­fac­tur­ing set- ups for this prod­uct seg­ment.

SW: Jack also tied up with Ja­panese mar­ket­ing firm Dentsu last year to ex­pand in over­seas mar­kets. Did you see any pos­i­tive im­pact of this col­lab­o­ra­tion?

Ruan: We have got a huge pos­i­tive feed­back from the global in­dus­try. Dentsu has helped us in proper brand­ing in the last one year. Jack is a lead­ing com­pany in sewing in­dus­try and Dentsu is help­ing us reach more top gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing plants across the world. We have ex­panded a lot in non-tra­di­tional mar­kets and con­sol­i­dated our po­si­tion in tra­di­tional mar­kets with the help of Dentsu. The next step ahead has al­ready been dis­cussed be­tween us and Dentsu and we will now strate­gise on how we can sell the com­plete pack­age of Jack, Vibe­mac, MAICA and Bullmer to the top man­u­fac­tur­ers of var­ied prod­ucts.

SW: Jack holds a strong po­si­tion in lock­stitch ma­chines but when it comes to chain­stitch and knitwear cat­e­gory, we feel it still lacks the kind of ex­per­tise which Ja­panese brands hold. In fu­ture, how do you think Jack as a brand will in­no­vate in knitwear seg­ment?

Ruan: I agree with the point made here. Most of the big knitwear fac­to­ries across the globe use Ja­panese ma­chines. But, in the last two years, we have worked hard to im­prove our knit­ting seg­ment. Now, we have C5 au­to­matic com­put­erised over­lock ma­chine which is spe­cially man­u­fac­tured for knitwear cat­e­gory. More­over, our fa­mous in­ter­lock ma­chine K4 is still a pre­ferred choice in the knitwear mar­ket and its up­graded ver­sion K5 is also ex­pected to be re­leased soon. We have so many patented tech­nolo­gies in these ma­chines which Ja­panese brands do not have. An­tibird nest tech­nol­ogy is one of them which greatly en­hances the sewing qual­ity.

SW: In last few years Jack has moved from the ba­sic lock­stitch ma­chines to au­to­mated ma­chines. ‘A’ series is one of them. What other in­no­va­tions are in pipeline af­ter ‘first thread clean­ness ma­chine’ A5? What will be the new de­vel­op­ments in the sub­se­quent ma­chines?

Ruan: Ev­ery year we re­lease one new prod­uct

with a new tech­nol­ogy in the mar­ket. Our sec­ond gen­er­a­tion lock­stitch ma­chine A4 was launched in 2014 and till 2017, we worked a lot to im­prove its voice fea­ture. In 2017, we launched our third gen lock­stitch ma­chine A5 which had just 3.5 mm thread tail that short­ened to 3 mm in 2018 and with our con­tin­u­ous de­vel­op­ment, it will re­main at just 2.5 mm in 2019. So all through 2014-2019 pe­riod, we planned for more sta­bil­ity in our sewing ma­chines, while from 2019 on­wards, we will fo­cus on im­prov­ing the fea­tures of our ma­chines to make sewing more in­tel­li­gent. The pe­riod 2019-2020 will be ded­i­cated to the fourth gen­er­a­tion ma­chine A6 which will come with IoT tech­nol­ogy, pro­duc­tion vi­su­al­i­sa­tion and au­to­matic salary ac­count­ing sys­tem, while the pe­riod 20212022 will be the fifth gen­er­a­tion pe­riod when we will fo­cus more on ‘mod­u­lar­ity struc­ture’ of the sewing ma­chine. In this struc­ture, step­per mo­tor tech­nol­ogy will be in­te­grated.

More­over, we are soon launch­ing

A7 model of SNLS ma­chine which is ac­tu­ally de­signed and man­u­fac­tured on the ba­sis of our ISU ( In­tel­li­gent Sewing Unit) pro­duc­tion sys­tem. The ma­chine will have four dif­fer­ent feed­ing tracks and it will au­to­mat­i­cally test the fab­ric thick­ness to ad­just the presser foot and ac­cord­ingly, the feed dog. I want to spe­cially men­tion our IoT tech­nol­ogy ‘ In­te­grated Pro­duc­tion Man­age­ment Sys­tem’ ( IPMS) which will be un­veiled in A6 model. This soft­ware is ba­si­cally a con­nec­tor be­tween our vast prod­uct port­fo­lio and the in­for­ma­tion of ev­ery ma­chine right from pre-sewing to sewing and then fin­ish­ing will be stored on cloud. So, we want to as­sure our cus­tomers that we are here to help them keep up with the chang­ing trends in the sewing tech­nol­ogy.

SW: You ear­lier dis­cussed about the In­dian mar­ket. What strate­gies is Jack adopt­ing as far as Bangladesh and Viet­nam mar­kets are con­cerned?

Ruan: Most of our prod­ucts are SNLS ma­chines but the level of tech­nol­ogy used in each ma­chine is dif­fer­ent and that’s where Jack holds its strength in. Af­ter In­dia, Viet­nam is the sec­ond- most im­por­tant mar­ket for us fol­low­ing Bangladesh. In 2017, we clocked US $ 39 mil­lion sales turnover in Viet­nam and US $ 17.50 mil­lion sales turnover in Bangladesh. See­ing the data, we can say we have to im­prove our mar­ket in Bangladesh though we are grow­ing at a mas­sive rate in the coun­try. We are fo­cus­ing more on ‘value mar­ket­ing’ in these coun­tries. Re­cently, we up­graded our F4 ma­chines to A2/ A3 lock­stitch ma­chines which come stud­ded with auto trim­mers. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously we are also pro­mot­ing A5 and A5N ma­chines in the cus­tomer seg­ment who are al­ready us­ing A3 and A4 ma­chines and that’s what brings more value to the end- user.

Fur­ther­more, we are fo­cus­ing on ‘less is more’ mantra. We have di­vided our­selves into three seg­ments: ba­sic busi­ness for mid- low level cus­tomers; de­vel­op­ing busi­ness for mid- high level cus­tomers; and fu­ture busi­ness for mid­high level cus­tomers. In the first cat­e­gory, we aim to sell ba­sic lock­stitch, over­lock and in­ter­lock ma­chines, while in the sec­ond cat­e­gory, we are cur­rently fo­cus­ing on mid- high level cus­tomers and want to pro­vide them all in­tel­li­gent and au­to­matic so­lu­tions ac­cord­ing to their needs. How­ever, our fu­ture strat­egy in­cludes sell­ing just in­tel­li­gent sewing ma­chines to mid- high level cus­tomers.

All these strate­gies are pos­i­tively work­ing for us and that’s why we have set US $ 60 mil­lion sales tar­get for Viet­nam in 2019, while Bangladesh has been given a tar­get of US $ 25 mil­lion by next year.

We have so many patented tech­nolo­gies in these ma­chines which Ja­panese brands do not have. Anti-bird nest tech­nol­ogy is one of them which greatly en­hances the sewing qual­ity. C5 au­to­matic com­put­erised over­lock ma­chine which is spe­cially man­u­fac­tured for knitwear cat­e­gory.

The Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, Jack man­age­ment and CSMA au­thor­ity laid the foun­da­tion stone of Jack's new fa­cil­ity ded­i­cated to in­tel­li­gent pro­duc­tion of sewing ma­chine

Ruan Jix­i­ang, Founder, Jack Group

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