Insights on the current situation on home textile industry by Sandhya Samuel
he Indian textile sector like any other sector has been severely affected due to the novel Corona virus pandemic .
It has been the worst nightmare of policymakers, who on one hand were trying to slow its spread, and on the other, desperately trying to limit its social and economic impact.
The pandemic not only affected the demand for textile and apparels, but also its supply.
Buyers from the United States and the European Union (EU) either cancelled orders or deferred the shipments of placed orders as consumers were all locked inside their homes, shopping malls were closed and access to online marketing was restricted.
These blocked / cancelled orders created problems of cash flow for the manufacturers.
While the opening of the Western markets and new demands were all the things that our fraternity wanted to hear, but the challenges faced by the factories in terms of shortage of raw material, accessories and most importantly man power were biggest hurdles blocking the way.
The month of April till May end turned out to be the worst months in the manufacturing history as there were practically no production in the factories.
But India as a textile community and more specifically home textile industry turned this challenge into an
opportunity by converting their facilities into manufacturing of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) which is really appreciable.
But as the lockdown slowly moved to unlock in a phased manner and blocked orders started getting confirmed with new dates we all discovered new problems which were disruption in the supply chain and escalation in pricing.
When the market opened up and new demand was created shortage of raw material, accessories and most importantly man power became the biggest hurdle blocking the way to smooth business.
The factories managed to comply with the administrative demands and SOP’s for running factories, but the pressing concerns of Supply Chain needed to be immediately addressed.
We should start looking at alternative markets – other than the US and EU for sustained business.
Prices of all raw materials (Cotton, linen) are on the rise making it difficult for India to pitch for big markets.
Adding to the woes of the community is the shortage of Containers at the port leading to huge backlog at the ports.
India remains a highly dependable and sought after source for a lot of categories – especially Table and Kitchen linen, Terry towels, Bath mats, Carpets, Cushions, Curtains and other home decoration made ups.
The concerns mentioned above are impacting this industry’s current and future performance.
If we have to grab bigger share in the global manufacturing market we have to control the raw material pricing and availability, keep a check on the currency fluctuation, sort out the current container shortage.
Along with this to tap the potential of the sector we have to make a policy and explore two new potential categories i.e. sustainable fabrics eco-friendly, organic fabrics and processes as it is the demand for the future and secondly look for alternative markets – other than US and EU.
Our dependability on these two markets have shown us that this could prove to be highly dangerous and the focus should immediately be drawn towards strategising tapping of new markets like Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.
In conclusion, it is evident that a pandemic of such magnitude would not leave any industry untouched – while the Apparel export has seen a setback of almost 35% in its export share, the home textile sector has only seen an approximately 12% drop.
Moreover, the trend for the future is clearly on home as population across the world is spending more time at home.
Sandhya Samuel is managing the Home Textiles Business at FIND AGENCIES PVT. LTD , part of the Francis Wacziarg Group – a leading Buying House with pan India presence.
Sandhya has 30 years long experience in the field of Sourcing, Merchandising and Supply Chain Management. She hand holds the European brands to discover the “Brand India” and tap the huge potential that India has to offer in the Home Textiles exports out of India.