The determination to be different as also the zeal to be the biggest in whatever they do has propelled Sahiba Limited into the big league of value-added fabrics. This Surat-based company is a true integrated setup for all types of finished fabrics for both the international and domestic market. Unlike many other fabric suppliers in Surat, the company does not believe in getting any work outsourced, and has built in-house capabilities for processing, embroidery and most recently digital printing. Team AO recently met two of the enterprising next generation inheritors of the company, Jashpreet Saluja and Aman Saluja, at their manufacturing campus for a rundown on what keeps this innovative group motivated…
It has been a long and fruitful journey for the Saluja family from their hometown in Raipur to one of the biggest names in the Surat industry. Setting base in the textile city in 1983 as traders, the family stayed focused on their vision to be an established name in the textile industry and consistently added to their profile. While the weaving unit came up in 1988, 1992 saw them enter the export industry and the modern well-equipped processing plant was set up in 1998. Not satisfied with limiting their capabilities to processing, the next move was to add embroidery machines in 2005 and then garmenting, and most recently in 2014, the company invested in digital printers from Italy. “We want to give all types of value addition options to our buyers and also have complete control over the quality and design, for that it is important to have in-house facilities,” reasons Jash, the eldest of the next generation of the Sahiba family, who as a team works cohesively for growth.
For smooth functioning of the various sections of the company, each division is an independent unit with an individual team. “Though we are a family business, we run the company in a very professional way. Each department is headed by a family member, supported by a well-trained team, many of whom have been with us for years,” shares Aman. From the product development to the quality, each aspect is specific to the division and even if a fabric is moving within the divisions they are treated as customers’ orders and not as in-house fabrics. “If the responsibility for getting the work done is on the owners and not on individual teams, then an attitude of chalta hai may crop in, but when owners are not involved in the process and only monitor progress, the commitment to get results is very high,” observes Jash.
Very strict discipline is maintained in the campus and besides a ‘no mobile at work’ policy, the company has over 1,000 cameras installed throughout to ensure safety of women workers. A surveillance team monitors the cameras and makes sure that no breach is reported. Since the factories run shift systems, monitoring the inflow and outflow of workers is very critical. Aiding the company in proper management is an ERP system from Datatex, a specialist in textile ERP systems. “We are among the first few companies to implement an ERP system in Surat and as a company, technology is a major thrust in our growth strategy, be it in adding value to our product offering or in system implementation,” avers Jash.
Very upbeat of the way the market has responded to its products, Sahiba is going ahead with massive expansion plans, looking to double its capacity in embroidery from 100 to 200 multi-head machines, adding about 40 more schiffli machines for value addition and embroidery, and installing four more digital printers to take the capacity of printed fabric to 1.5 million metres per month.
Upfront in doing business the right way, the company’s processing house is supported by an in-house ETP plant from day one; and now that there is awareness about environmental issues, a common ETP has come up in the industrial area for other units also. “We are very particular about environmental issues and have installed a camera at the mouth of our chimney to keep watch on how clean the smoke is,” informs Jash. Workers’ welfare is also a concern and a hostel is being built in the campus to house 1,500 workers, which will be operational in another few months. The facilities will include bed, laundry, three square meals and a common entertainment area. As of now, the company is running 30 buses to ply workers from nearby villages, hence generating employment opportunities. “We are not dependent on migrant labour and most of the workers are local. Only in some specialized jobs we have people from UP and Bihar,” informs Aman. The company currently has a worker strength of around 3,000, of which over 700 are women, all within the same complex.
Catering to three different markets – domestic, exporters and international clients, Sahiba has designs and colour palettes to suit different sensibilities. “Over the years our product development efforts have been focused on feeding the market with fabric that is aligned for different taste and culture. What would work for India will not work for Europe and may not work for Japan, so we will first get a clear vision who the target audience is and accordingly design the fabric,” says Aman. The strategy has worked well for the company and Jash proudly points out that because of the advanced fashion sensibility of the company, they have been able to tie up with many leading and emerging designers like Maria B. and Perwani of Pakistan, and Randeep Ranawat of India.
The company is not only strong in production, but is also equally savvy in its marketing approach. A catalogue almost every month for showcasing latest offerings in dress materials and sarees is created in a truly professional way via using known names as models; their current campaign is led by Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez as the face for sarees, and Neeru Bajwa, a known face in Punjabi cinema as brand ambassador for suits. “In a market which is crowded by choices, it is becoming more and more important to present the product in an eye-catching way,” argues Jash. Regular fashion shows, dealers’ meets and launch events besides media presence has helped the company make headway in the ethnic Indian market where attracting the attention of the customer is a big challenge. For garment exporters, Sahiba represents processed fabrics which are in line with international trend forecast. “We are looking to open a marketing office in the NCR region where most of the fashion exporters have a base, so we can support product development through responsive sampling,” informs Aman.
Very upbeat of the way the market has responded to its products, Sahiba is going ahead with massive expansion plans, looking to double its capacity in embroidery from 100 to 200 multi-head machines, adding about 40 more schiffli machines for value addition and embroidery, and installing four more digital printers to take the capacity of printed fabric to 1.5 million metres per month. “Our chairman has instilled in us the vision to not only aim at being the best, but also the biggest in whichever category we work in and that has continuously inspired us to expand without fear,” says Aman. With the expansions, Sahiba will have the biggest embroidery unit in the country and qualify as the largest design studio in digital prints in Asia. The brothers share that whenever they get into a category it is always a first time effort and then they go ahead confident that the volumes will be an advantage to the basic philosophy of the company to be a technology-driven value added fabric supplier.
The company has recently started manufacturing digitally printed leggings and going forward they plan to get into circular knitting as the product shows immense growth potential. Getting back into weaving is also on the cards. However, a thrust area is to service the garment exports with latest value-added fabric. “Meeting the fast evolving design needs of the garment exporters is not only a challenge, but also a priority,” says Jash.
With so much happening, the real challenge according to the brothers is not day-to-day running of the factory, which is in safe hands, but looking for growth opportunities. “The challenge is to always think forward and stay one step ahead of competitors and that is where all the owners are involved. We are constantly travelling, picking up market clues and discussing how to grow bigger and add more value to what we can offer,” concludes Jash. The Sahiba team is indeed well-geared to face all challenges which the market keeps throwing up and will continue to grow.