The competitive challenges posed by the changing global scenario in the textile chain have compelled players to adopt fresh strategies to not only remain competitive, but also relevant. Even a huge textile group like Vardhman that has a strong history of commitment to invest in the business with initiatives directed at long-term sustainability, is gearing up for the challenges. In an exclusive interaction with Team Apparel Online, Suchita Oswal Jain, Joint Managing Director, Vardhman shares the future directions for the company and areas of thrust.
Acknowledging that the industry is becoming very demanding and that old school of thoughts and systems can no longer bring in growth, Suchita feels that three major challenges in the industry today are: Innovation, Speed to market and Operational excellence. “Each of these areas is in need of constant efforts, and as an integrated textile company from spinning to fabrics, Vardhman Group aims to be a benchmark player in the global textile industry, producing diverse range of products. We seek to be a preferred company through excellence in manufacturing and customer service, based on creative combination of state-of-the-art technology and human resources,” says Suchita.
The challenge of innovations lies in developing products that are truly different and can help in devising a differential policy. “The process of innovation includes not only R&D at our end but it also encompasses the concept of co-creating with customers to give the market something which is truly exclusive,” avers Suchita. She shares that they have been working in collaboration with retailers and brands for a long time. “It is brands like H&M, Zara, s.Oliver, Gap and the likes which are the trend setters and through joint development, we are partners in this process and can be ahead of other companies when the demand for such yarns or fabrics actually hit the market,” reasons Suchita. The areas of concentration for development are prints & yarn dyed fabrics, cellulose blends, multi fibre-blends, bottom weight fabrics to name a few, the idea is to constantly expand the product basket.
Supporting the product development efforts is a strong Process Development Team at the Product Development Centre. Furthermore, the company has collaborated with an international design studio to assist in the design process. The design team works with the International Design Consortium to understand the trends predicted for the upcoming fashion seasons. Based on these predictions and their interpretation, the design team launches collections every year. “We experiment with textures, fibres and patterns to bring in exciting range of designs that are then adopted by leading fashion houses globally for their collections,” shares Suchita. The design capabilities are bolstered by in-house independent, state-of-the-art pilot sampling units based on Japanese and European technology that facilitate the development of new product and support creating fabric swatches as per specifications.
There is no doubt that the supply chain can no longer work the way it used to and the imperative word today is Speed. “The fashion cycle has become so fast that no company can afford to wait for things to happen, we have to constantly push new products into the market and be ready to supply as quickly as possible,” says Suchita. The company is supplying all over the world and making all kinds of efforts to meet the ever-changing lead time demand of the customers. They are constantly building up our infrastructure to support this effort. Recently, the company has set up modern Automatic Warehousing facility at a huge cost to cut on the supply lead time and also better managing the dispatches to the customer.
Also supporting fast deliveries is their sourcing strategy. The Vardhman Group is one of the largest consumers of cotton in India and being a seasonal agricultural commodity, the company uses well thought-out strategies to source cotton during the peak marketing period for its annual consumption to maintain consistency and regularity of quantity and quality for finished products. Since the Group is a major buyer with substantial financial resources and a sterling reputation, it enjoys a preferred buyer status in the ginning industry in the country.
Talking of operational excellence Suchita agrees that the challenges are not only on maintaining consistent quality, but also on saving cost, being more efficient, enhancing productivity and being leaner in operations. “The only way to stay competitive is to continuously work on improving systems, and at Vardhman, it has become our way of life,” says Suchita. Factors like sustainable operations, CSR and employee engagement are built into the ethos of the company and well -known to customers. They are not just marketing tools, but tools to enhance operational excellence.
Yet, the company does not rest on its laurels and is working hard to develop new markets to support its growth projections. Also, a focus target is to be among the top 3 textile groups in India and be known as a reliable global partner by major retailers and brands. In search of these goals, the company is looking to expand its yarn capacity to 1.3 million spindles in the next three years from the current 1 million spindles and fabric to over 180 million metres from the current 120 million metres, during the same period.
One of the biggest edges that the company has is its integrated strength across fibres and yarns, threads, fabrics and finished garments (high-end formal shirts). Currently, Vardhman Textiles has the largest installed spinning capacity in India and is a market leader in hand knitting yarns.
It also enjoys a dominant position in the fabric processing capability in the country and considered market leader in the stretch fabrics. The manufacturing is extremely flexible both in terms of composition as well as quantity and the company can develop wide range of yarn and fabrics based on the requirements.
“We are very focused and ready for the future and with our PM, Narendra Modi’s thrust on ‘Make in India’, we are geared up to be among the frontrunners of this dynamic movement, from the textile industry,” concludes Suchita.