The second edition of Texfair recently held in Kannur from February 26-28 is no doubt a very good initiative to give an opportunity to this natural hub of cotton based textiles to sell its products in the international market. Kannur presently is catering to the needs of the domestic market but the Government of Kerala is making serious efforts to uplift and upgrade this hub by pumping in investments. By sole Government’s initiative the hub now has a very well-equipped textile park which was inaugurated last year and also has recently opened a NIFT centre. Apparel Online, being the media partner to the event, was present at the Texfair in full strength to get the first hand report from Kannur.
The Kannur hub is quite fragmented and the manufacturers who are primarily working on handlooms are very small with limited manufacturing strengths. This aspect is very well understood by the organisers, so instead of calling individual manufacturers they asked various Weaver’s Societies to exhibit their products collectively, some of which were Kanhirode Weavers, Loknath Weavers, Pappinissseri Weavers, Mayyil Weavers, Kalliasseri Society, to mention the prominent ones. All the exhibitors showcased their fabrics along with garments and home furnishing made-ups. The quality of the products was good and there were some innovative products too.
Organized by Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion, the fair was inaugurated by Elamaram Kareen, State Minister for Industries & Commerce. Apparel Global Consulting (AGC) was appointed as business sourcing agent by the Texfair organisers. According to G. Manikandan, CEO, AGC, the selection of people from different clusters were chosen by him. Buying agencies and liaison offices in Chennai, Bangalore, Erode and Tirupur were invited to visit the fair. With intense follow-up the fair saw Direct Domestic Retailers and Agents from Coimbatore, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, fabric sourcing people for domestic conversion and export garment production along with apparel and RMG exporters sourcing home textiles for their existing customers presently from Karur and similar centres.
“We invited various Textile Organisations in Tirupur and Coimbatore to visit the fair which could build more awareness among the industry fraternity. President, Tirupur Export Knit Printer’s Association and President, Tirupur Industrial Federation also visited the fair on our invitation,” informed Mani. Talking about Kannur as a potential sourcing hub Mani says, “The current issues in Tirupur garment industry is forcing the buyers of various regions in India to expand and diversify their sourcing range to Karur, Salem, Delhi/NCR, Ludhiana and Jaipur and they consider Kannur as one of the prominent and possible extensions.” Besides, the textile exhibitors, AGC also brought in 21 participants from the support industry from places like Tirupur, Karur, Bangalore and New Delhi covering sewing machines, embroidery machines, ironing machines, printing and fusing, non-woven bag making machine, lab equipments, to mention a few.
[bleft]The manufacturers of Kannur will have to think seriously how to cut down their overheads and improve their productivity to reach the price levels which buyers are looking for. Their products are no doubt good but if they cannot meet the buyer’s price points then how would they get orders?[/bleft]
The feedback which Team Apparel Online received from the buyers raises a lot of questions pertaining to this textile hub. Most of the buyers said that though the products on display were good, however the prices and quantity are a big constraint. G. Savithri, Owner, A&A Fashions, an exporter from Tirupur says, “We manufacture organic knitted garments, primarily for kids. I really like the herbal dyed fabrics as it would complement my organic collection but the price of fabrics is really high. We cannot do costing with this kind of price points.” The other aspect which Savithri highlighted was small volumes. “The exhibitors here can supply only very small volumes. I am also looking for just 1000 pieces in terry towels, even that order they cannot take. One of the manufacturers told me that he weaves just 3 terry towels in a day. In 35 days he can make only 50 towels!”
Some of the buying office heads too found the rates very high. S. Srinivasan, Country Head India Operations, Mulitex Ltd., Chennai shares, “If I compare the fabric price of Kannur with Erode and Salem, it is 20-30% high. These manufacturers really have to pull up their socks if they want to cater to international market. They have to change their mindsets and upgrade their manufacturing set-ups.” Mulitex is a Hong Kong-based trading house having liaison office in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. The Indian liaison office is sourcing a lot of knits, men’s T-shirt, yarn dyed and plain dyed polos from Tirupur and piques, jerseys from Ludhiana. Mulitex’s major exporting countries are Latin and South America.
A.S. Shanmugavel, General Manager, Wamer Fashion, a Tirupur-based buying office, had similar views. “No doubt the products are good but this hub still has a long way to go to cater to the export market. They are largely producing handlooms, which has demand in the overseas market but if prices are not competitive then who can afford to buy their products?”
Sreekanth Bhatt, Promoter, SMS Sourcing, Bangalore, sourcing for both domestic and international brands comments, “Since I am catering to both the domestic brands like Flying Machine, Arrow, Belmonte and international brands such as Fila, Russel, Ocean Pacific to mention a few, I keep exploring new sourcing hubs. Kannur’s offerings are no doubt good but prices are quite high.”
Mani absolutely agreed with the feedback Apparel Online received from the visitors. “We got the same feedback in last year’s edition too. The manufacturers of Kannur will have to think seriously how to cut down their overheads and improve their productivity to reach the price levels which buyers are looking for. Their products are no doubt good but if they cannot meet the buyer’s price points then how would they get orders?” He adds, “We can only show the world the range of products that this region makes to create a demand, but to translate it into viable business in the challenge.”
One thing is clear, that Kerala’s Government with its implementing agency KINFRA is seriously working to uplift this hub as one of the promising destinations for cotton fabrics and made-ups. Now it’s the time for the fabric weavers to take advantage of this golden opportunity which is being served to them on a golden platter.