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What makes India the preferred sourcing destination for international buyers?

With many ups and downs in apparel export data, policy changes but with no proper execution, besides getting deprived of any Government support, the Indian apparel exporters are struggling. Similar is the situation of their overseas clients also who are already under pressure due to various other reasons. Even yet, in this scenario, to a large extent, there is positivity at the end of both exporters as well as buyers. What are the factors that have kept these buyers and exporters charged-up, how they are coping with challenges, and how they are sure of further growth… During IIGF, Team Apparel Resources met some interesting and different level of buyers (having reasonable sourcing from India or having thrust on the same despite less sourcing, and others who are just coming to India) and exporters, trying to find out how they are coping with current situation, especially at their sourcing end, with an update on their further developments regarding India… To conclude their views, there is no magic stick and one has to consistently improve upon one’s own strength.

Some of the companies are now exploring India due to various reasons as they are facing challenges in their existing sourcing destinations, their customers are pushing them for Indian products… Among them is Alessandro Lenzi, Administrator of Lebiz s.r.l., who was on his first visit to India and was eyeing to particularly explore factories for intimate apparels. Alessandro shared that despite the economic crisis in Italy, his company is optimistic about further growth. “This is the best time to explore new growth opportunities and to come back strongly post crisis, as early as possible,” said Alessandro .

With 26 stores in Bologna, Lebiz s.r.l., Italy’s customers are in favour of Indian products and goods. “India is a hub which we can’t ignore anymore. We are initially planning to source 20,000 pieces per collection from here annually and will have nearly 4 to 5 collections. Some of the manufacturers are in touch with me. As of now we are exploring more prints,” said Alessandro. Some of the other new buyers exploring India include Fawzi Alnahdi, CEO, Nama Arabia Apparels Co. Ltd., Saudi Arabia (‘Blooming’ label). His company is working primarily out of China but now they are impressed enough with Indian manufacturers to rethink options. “95 per cent of our products, including underwear and outerwear, are mostly out of China, but now we would like to start working with casual womenswear that would appeal to women in Saudi Arabia,” said Fawzi.

Rayes Gimenez (L), Manager, Kuini Creation, Spain and Jaime Barba of 360 Streertwear, Spain

Some buyers shared that still they are working hard to ensure timely delivery from Indian exporters and are insisting to focus more on product development. Rayes Gimenez, Manager, Kuini Creation, Spain and Jaime Barba of 360 Streetwear, both are retailers and also wholesalers from Spain and are positive about their growth in coming months. By sourcing a variety of garments, both companies are willing to explore different kinds of fabric-based garments from India. “Still few of our vendors in India need to work on their delivery schedule,” they added.

“I see India as my biggest sourcing destination. Till a year ago, I was selling in my two shops in Athens and also in some retail stores which were interested in the type of garments I design and get them manufactured from India. But now my company, Mykonos, is going global and I have turned as a wholesaler, looking to pick-up more samples to show to the potential clients. I am looking for fresh collections and hope to make new contacts with Indian exporters that will support my growth plans.” – Ada Kamara, Mykonos, Greece

Siba International, which is an importer company from Denmark, famous in garments as well as home furnishing and works with chain stores, is expecting 4-5 per cent growth this year. “Business is not very good, but we are focused on improving through new designs and patterns. Any exporter who can offer innovative patterns is welcome to work with us,” said Sarabjit Singh E.E., Manager of the company. Sourcing from India for the last 15 years, Twinset S.P.A., from Italy has complete faith in the design potential of the country. The company is represented by Preeti Walia in India. Twinset has 80 stores in Italy and is working in high-end products that could fetch FOB of even US $ 100, but the average FOB would be around US $ 20. “India is very important for the buying strategy of the company, as 70% of products are sourced from the country, while the remaining 30% of basic/core lines are sourced from China. Hand embroidery is at the core of most of the products sourced from India,” said Preeti.

H.P.K. Gayathrika, Fashion Designer and Dashmani Pilapitiya, Head of Design/Merchandising & Planning, ANATIONZ, Sri Lanka were exploring options of design input, as they are keen to introduce their menswear label ANATIONZ to the Indian consumer and also want to launch a womenswear line on similar lines with prime focus on linen.

Tapping the untapped markets is one of the difficult yet best tool for the garment exporters. Russia is also such a market that is under the target of many Indian exporters. Valery Sidorenkov, Chief Production Officer and Quality Assurance, Modis, Moscow shared that currently he is working with 6 exporters in India. He strongly felt that there are ample opportunities for Indian exporters in Russia. “We are sourcing good volume of womenswear, menswear and kidswear from India. Though currently our market is not good but it is huge and we are hopeful for a growth of nearly 15 per cent in the current year,” stated Valery.

“In my opinion, garment exporters should have their proper data and start analysing where they exactly are. There are some key areas like quality which are still very much undermined and have vast potential to make a company profitable. The cost of quality I have seen is on an average ranging between 12 and 15 per cent. And if exporters bring it down even by 3 per cent, that will be a good jump in exporters’ profitability. Strong quality management system and data assessment system will help to analyze the route cause and bring down issues like extra procurement of material, amount of manpower invested on check, rechecks, reworks, so proper data would be the starting point.” – Manoj Singh, Head, Business Development Asia, Impactt Global Solutions, Delhi

Company like the Continuum shared concern about the viability of India given the pressure on prices. “Every buyer is asking for sustainability along with all of the other traditional requirements, including PD, yet no one is willing to shell out anything extra,” bemoaned Gurmeet Bhatia, Compliance and Supply Chain Manager of the company. His views were seconded by many. Adding to the thought, Naveen Sehgal of RV International felt that the Government did not have a true picture of the situation and urged to put the facts more strongly.

Amit Mudris, Head of Sourcing & Merchandising Sourcing, United Colors of Benetton (Benetton Asia Pacific Limited (India Branch) too explored new vendors. He shared, “It will be good if a platform like IIGF has more manufacturers from south India and that too in knitted garments so that we can explore them easily. For us compliance fulfilment by an exporter is a must.”

Rania Trading, Gurgaon is working as an authorised agency for UK companies Poundstretcher, the Pet Hut, Pound Store. It is mainly into home furnishing products and is now exploring garment also. Udit Gupta, Assistant Merchandiser of the company shared, “We are planning to start with kidswear and will proceed accordingly.” As the clients of Rania Trading are very price-conscious, it is challenging for the company to find good quality products with reasonable price, but it is somehow managing with its field expertise.