It has been a decade long journey for Madeira, winning the market through quality, extending its reach across the Indian market through an array of products, and a customer service par excellence. As the company celebrates its successful completion of 10 years in the Indian market, Hartwig Kauschat – Area Sales Manager, Madeira India Pvt Ltd. turns nostalgic, taking the Apparel Online team through its journey of ups and downs, recalling the challenges, the landmarks and also giving a peek into the future strategy.
Established as an independent identity in 2007, Madeira India with its office in Gurgaon soon became an acclaimed producer/supplier of top quality embroidery threads, expanding its operations to the southern parts of India – Bangalore and Chennai – where the export hubs thrive. Having consolidated its position with companies working for international brands, Madeira is now exploring deeper. “We saw this big latent potential within the Indian market and though we started mainly catering to the export companies, we quickly realized the need to tap the domestic brands. That’s why we are focusing now on local brands,” reveals Hartwig.
Currently 80 per cent share of the company’s business is with exporters, while 20 per cent is with domestic brands. But the target is to increase the local market share, as the company is looking at risk mitigation, since relying completely on exports in a market scenario where international brands are always looking for cheaper markets can make India lose its market share to countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh which is nothing less than a tactical blunder. “The basic danger is that if brands move out, then we are left with nothing or very little market to operate in. So, that’s why we decided to not just focus on international business but also on domestic opportunities. We need to strengthen the roots within the country, thereby limiting the risks,” claims Hartwig with a positive vision.
Madeira has very closely witnessed the changing Indian domestic market since its inception and its continuous endeavour has made people understand the importance of embroidery for a finished garment. “In the last decade, we have seen a lot of change in attitude, now some people understand us for what value we can give and not just see our prices. This gives us confidence to deliver, because they are ready to pay. If we talk about domestic brands, they come to us after a thorough trial and testing. There is endless potential. But it will take time,” reminds Hartwig. Nonetheless the company has witnessed its sets of challenges of operating in the domestic market such as lack of exposure to the market through exhibitions, pricing and always competing with itself to maintain its position as a market leader.
Despite all such manifold hurdles, getting deeper into the domestic market is a focus area for the company’s future strategy, which they are confident of penetrating. “There are small brands mushrooming and they want to imitate or copy the market leaders, by using the same products.
Everyone wants to follow a leader and its footsteps. Raymond, Colorplus, Aditya Birla are some of the big names associated with us. These organizations are setting the benchmark, and others are trying to follow and reach to their level. What works for us is that there are no minimums associated while working with us, which works in our favour,” reasons Hartwig with an open mind.
Progressing from introducing standard specialty products on a small scale to building the industries confidence in the product assortment, the company now is looking at ways of collaborating with the machine makers so that both can benefit from each other by creating beautiful embroidery through synergy of technology and innovative threads. “Apart from normal fashion business, in future, we want to talk more about technical applications like using conductive threads, which is still a very niche area. We look at what we can offer to the market that can be used on advanced machines such as Tajima,” shares the ASM of Madeira optimistically. Stating that his company has seen consistent growth through innovation by looking to improve through knowledge sharing and introduction of new products, he further adds, “Madeira is looking not only to invent new threads but suggest unique ways to use the threads in combination for different looks and affects. We try to educate the customers, and make them understand the products and the different ways in which it can be used,” informs Hartwig.
What works for the company is its strategy to provide samples on what can be achieved with threads for its customers rather than giving shade cards. “We participate in some of the fashion exhibitions of Europe and their designers come and see what we do and what they can do with our products. To survive, we need to be different from competition. The right thing is to educate them and train them on how to use the products,” shares Hartwig. This is especially true for the domestic market that is still on a learning curve and does not use technology to its full potential.
“When we show the clients how to use threads in isolation and in combination, it is then when they realize how to maximize a value of the product. We are helping them gain knowledge and training them to use available resources to their full potential,” adds Hartwig.
However, as competition is becoming sharper, it is becoming even more important to differentiate on all parameters. “Whenever anyone aligns with Madeira, they are assured of quality and consistency of quality, lot after lot, which is in fact more important than just giving quality,” asserts Hartwig. He elaborates, “We give them ‘peace of mind’ that our threads will not give any problem. We try to sell confidence. For customers, when they see brands such as Zara and Nike, they are assured that they are buying the right products, but for these brands, the ones who give them the assurance are the people who are supplying the ingredients. The key is to give the right ingredients to get the best product out.”
Madeira has come a long way – from working through an agent to becoming a solution provider to consolidating everything and putting it in one place in terms of logistics, accounting, warehouse, etc. at its Gurgaon headquarters, where fresh renovation is underway. While the company, going forward, is looking at widening its reach and penetrating deeper into the market with a strong distributor network pan India, Hartwig emphasizes, “Our future strategy is to be present everywhere in India, directly or indirectly, and to double our turnover in the next five years,” and goes on to confirm that the Indian team is confident to deliver the target.