Chinese sewing brands benefit as India grows in domestic apparel manufacturing

by Nitish Varshney

07-March-2019  |  9 mins read

China has recently earned good reputation in terms of quality of manufacturing especially in its sewing machines. Renowned sewing brands such as Jack, Hikari, Maqi, Zoje, LinkSW and SG Group are doing phenomenally well not just in China where they have a stronghold since years but also in markets like India which is growing rapidly in domestic manufacturing and in exports, slowly with a steady pace. It’s worth noting here that domestic apparel retail market size in India is US $ 46 billion as of 2018, while apparel exports stood at approximately US $ 16 billion. The figures show the massive potential of the Indian market especially in domestic manufacturing which is not the case for Bangladesh and Vietnam that are considered better players in apparel exports than India but not in domestic manufacturing. Hence India has an upper hand when it comes to providing opportunities to sewing machine companies of China. Team Apparel Resources talks to some Chinese sewing brands and delves deep into how they are growing in India…

The rise of these brands in the Indian market is even more significant as rising competitiveness and buyers’ pressure are pushing the apparel manufacturers to adopt those sewing machinery which are good in terms of quality as well as prices are not too high. Providing ‘low cost, high quality and strong technical support’ combination, Chinese sewing machine brands have been able to shift the Indian market’s focus from Japanese brands or European brands towards them. It is seen that most of the Chinese sewing companies are targeting to increase their revenue by at least 40 per cent in 2019 and are adopting some key strategies like boosting technical service and expanding reach in different parts of India quite aggressively.

Undoubtedly, Jack is the most famous name in the Indian apparel manufacturing market which has seen unprecedented growth in just a few years here. Being the biggest market for Jack, India has earned US $ 65 million from sales by 2018. Jack is working on just one mantra: focus on the customers’ demand and sense their needs. “Firstly, we have those kind of products which Indian market really demands. We have captured the pain points of the customers and have solutions to eliminate the challenges end-users come across on the sewing floor. We can claim we have the fastest service in the sewing industry right now,” explained Ruan Jixiang, Founder, Jack in an exclusive interview with Apparel Resources recently.

Markedly, to further the pace of sales in the Indian market, Jack has opened five authorised service centres in all the major garment manufacturing hubs of India in last few years. More than 100 Indian technicians have been trained by the sewing juggernaut. “Not just garment units and main dealers, we provide training to our sub dealers and small level distributors too. All these efforts of ours have been fruitful for us,” said Syed Abdul Azeez, Executive Director, India Agencies (Regd.), who is taking care of Jack in India.

Syed Abdul Azeez, (3rd from left) Executive Director, India Agencies (Regd.)
Syed Abdul Azeez, (3rd from left) Executive Director, India Agencies (Regd.)

Furthermore, Jack is strengthening its focus on ‘less is more’ strategy. Jack has divided its business strategy into three segments: basic business with mid-low level customers; developing business with mid-high level customers; and future business with mid-high level customers. In the first category, it aims to sell basic lockstitch, overlock and interlock machines while in the second category, Jack is currently focusing on mid-high level customers and wants to provide them all intelligent and automatic solutions according to their needs.

All these strategies are positively working for Jack and that’s why it has set US $ 100 million sales target for India in 2019, a Y-o-Y increase of 53 per cent, and to achieve this sales target, it will continue working on the same strategies.

Another company which is rapidly increasing its share in India is Maqi. In 2018, it earned US $ 8 million from the Indian market, while this year, it has a target to grow almost double to US $ 15 million. To achieve the target, Maqi is expanding its base in India as till now it has its office in just Delhi but, in 2019, it is opening its second office in Bangalore. Maqi is working with 40 authorised dealers in India and is hopeful to capture some more by this year in order to get more customers.

India has become a successful market for Maqi because of the fact that the Chinese apparel and textile industry is seeing sharp decline from quite some years now and sensing this decline years back, Maqi started reinforcing its foothold in India. “It’s a fact that Chinese manufacturers are losing orders due to high cost of manufacturing and since the situation will remain the same, we have already started finding more space in markets like India which are giving us great response,” asserted Will Pan, Sales Manager, Maqi.

Will Pan, Sales Manager, Maqi
Will Pan, Sales Manager, Maqi

On the other hand, Zoje is working on two different strategies to gain the attention of both mid-level customers and high-level customers. Its latest UBT SNLS machines have two variations. One has a hook made up in China and the other one has the hook made up in Japan. The Japanese hook machine is sold to high-end garment manufacturing units, while the Chinese one is sold only to the mid-end customers. The price difference between both the machines is around US $ 35 which is significant seeing the price sensitivity of the investors in the Indian industry. “It’s not that the Chinese hook carrying machine is low in quality but the cost of manufacturing of this machine is less than the cost of the machine studded with the Japanese hook,” Kundan Gupta, Marketing Director (India), Zoje.

Kundan Gupta, Marketing Director (India), Zoje
Kundan Gupta, Marketing Director (India), Zoje

Lincoln Sewing Machine Co. Ltd (LinkSW), which marked its entry to India for the first time in 2017, has garnered a positive response from the industry. However, to further boost its sales in India, the sewing company has joined hands with Ample Garment Machinery (AGM) which LinkSW believes was the utmost necessity to grow. Showing up for the first time with any dealer in the recently concluded GTE ’19 in New Delhi, LinkSW offered a complete range of its technologies with key focus on LK-1790A machine which, Vivian, Manager of LINKSW, claims to be an intelligent computer direct drive flat head buttonhole machine series. This machine performs buttonhole operation using basting stitch mechanism and is said to be effective on elastic materials such as knits, saving cost of five labourers. The machine is able to store 99 different patterns in its memory, which can be selected as desired from the operation panel. Vivian shared, “India is a big potential market which is now inclining towards automation, labour and power saving sewing machine products. Keeping Indian market in our mind, we are offering a complete package of technology with strong after-sales service.”

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