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Lure of readymade garments

By Ramnath Subbu

MUMBAI, OCT. 21. The branded readymade garments industry has been seeing hectic activity in the recent past and is growing at 35 per cent. With increasing exposure to global brands and a virtual flood of international quality products, the Indian consumer is today, has a wide choice.

According to Mr. Vikram Rao, Group Executive President, Fabrics and Apparel Business, Aditya Birla group, ``The branded readymade shirts market is estimated to be around Rs. 2,000 crores and readymade market is about Rs. 1,000 crores. While the shirt market is growing at about 10-12 per cent per annum, the trouser market is growing at 30-35 per cent per annum.''

Almost all categories in the branded apparel industry are showing healthy rates of growth. In fact, the Indian market for casual wear is growing rapidly and is expected to attain as much volume as men's formal and semi-formal wear. The size of the casual wear shirt market is estimated to be around Rs. 185 crores and is seen growing at 40 per cent.

The industry is dominated by the Aditya Birla group-owned Indian Rayon & Industries whose subsidiary Madura Garments has a 25 per cent market share in the readymade trousers and premium shirts segments and a 45 per cent market share in the `other shirts' segment.

The readymade trouser market in India is four million pieces annually. However, even today 9 out of 10 trousers are tailor- made, indicating a clear preference over readymades. According to Mr. Rao, ``Consumers used to wear tailor-made garments because of lack of good quality, fit and branded products.'' Things are changing though and the consumer is now more savvy and increasingly conscious of fashions and trends. ``We are managing to convince more and more men of the value of readymade vis-a-vis tailor-made in terms of quality, fit and fashion.'' Mr. Rao said.

Today, some factors distinguish the leading players from the others and important among these would be brand building, retailing, innovation and design and ability to enhance advertising and merchandising. Madura Garments, for instance, is consciously focusing on designs. ``We are investing for the best quality and are also looking at signing up with some of the best design houses in the world to ensure that we are at the cutting edge of innovation, design and fashion.'' said Mr. Rao.

A segment which has caught the attention of manufacturers has been women's branded apparel. Madura Garments has undertaken a study on women's wear and if the study indicates feasible numbers, the company will venture into it. Raymond too is reportedly evaluating a foray into the branded women's wear segment. Color Plus Fashions has already announced that it would be ready to launch the Color Plus range of casual women's wear by early 2001 and with a focus on western wear.

Madura Garments was acquired by Indian Rayon last year from Madura Coats, the India subsidiary of Coats Viyella of the U.K.

The company essentially has three businesses - premium brands, mid-priced brands and contract exports. Its business strategy for 2000-01 will be to consolidate and leverage current brands by adopting product strategy, retailing strategy and branded exports. The company is doing branded and contract exports of more than Rs. 40 crores per annum.

Madura Garments is using a new retailing strategy through `Trouser Town' whereby it is widening its distribution set up. It has a whole array of brands; with each occupying a pre-eminent position in its category. The brands include Louis Phillipe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Peter England, San Frisco and Byford.

The Vijaypat Singhania group company, Raymond, is finalising plans for a major expansion of its readymade garments business. Its portfolio includes Park Avenue formal wear, Parx casual wear and Manzoni, a premium range of shirts and ties. Raymond is to launch international brands in the readymade garments segment and will tie up with global brands to leverage its retail network.

S.Kumars Synfabs, which was focused on worsted suitings, is to extend its Reid & Taylor brand to the ready-to-wear segment. The brand is to have a complete range for men, encompassing casual wear, formal wear and accessories. The expanded portfolio is to contribute around Rs. 150 crores to the turnover of the company for 2000-01. The company would source the fabric from its Rs. 250 crore facility at Mysore which has a capacity of 50 lakh metres per annum.

The S.Kumars group has launched its ready-to-wear range of garments - `Cinnamon' targeted at the middle and upper-middle segment. It will offer a gamut of men's clothing, from shirts, trousers, blazers, suits and T-shirts to socks, ties and belts. The company could launch at least another four to five new brands in the market in the next two years and will set up 200 exclusive showrooms over a four-year period.

Color Plus Fashions has a 25 per cent market share in the Rs. 150 crore premium smart segment and is a leading premium casual wear brand. It is focusing on soon to be launched branded accessories like socks, leather belts, wallets, brief cases and table tops. The company has 16 exclusive stores and some 70 plus shop-in- shops across the country. It has a presence in 27 cities and is aiming to touch 100 cities in the next two years.

The Zodiac Clothing Company exports a major chunk of its readymade garments to Europe. One of the largest quota holders for men's shirt exports to Europe, the company, after the launch of its men's casual wear `Zod' in India, is planning a foray of Zod and formals in the export market. With exports contributing about 70 per cent of turnover, the domestic business is carried out by Zodiac's subsidiary Mayfair Limited. Currently, Zodiac's formal and semi-formal wear is available at 2,000 multi-brand outlets and 78 exclusive Zodiac outlets.

Zodiac would continue its festive launches in its semi-formal and formal wear. The company is a recent entrant into the trouser business and launched wrinkle-free trousers, chinos, khakis apart from semi-formal and formal trousers.

Arvind Fashions, a subsidiary of Arvind Mills, has secured licence to manufacture and market Wrangler jeans in India. The company has already invested Rs. 36 crores in the business and has a 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Bangalore. The production capacity is one million jeans and the company will achieve a target of two million pairs in the next two years. Arvind has already been successful with the Lee brand. The entire range will be available in 37 exclusive stores and before the year end, the company plans to raise the number of stores to 70.

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