1972 born Dollar Industries has procured a prestigious position in Indian hosiery market over 40years of its journey. Started from Bengal and surrounding area initially, now it has a pan India presence with 15 sub-brands under the mother brand Dollar named Bigboss, Missy, Force NXT, Ultra, Champion, Force go wear, Bigboss J-class, Lehar, Kids care, Comfort, Commando, Bravery, Dollar RKG, Wintercare, Dollar footprints. Perfect Sourcing sat with Shashi agarwal, senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy & Investor Relations and Ankit Gupta, Vice President over a cup of coffee to chat about their influentially encouraging path. The company is now seeing its third generation taking over the business.
Q: Share the story of Dollar and its journey by far.
Shashi : We had a very humble start back in 1972 when the market of innerwear was about the product and less about wearing the brand. We started in form of partnership business module in a very small extend of Bengal its surrounding area and gradually it spreaded all over India. It was in late 1990s-2000 when the brand started getting exposure in large scale and that’s when we launched the brand Dollar Bigboss under the mother brand which alone has over 400crore turnover now. We have included products for everyone and for every price bracket for men, women, kids, thermal and athleisure and have become one of the top 3 home-grown companies with an enviable 15% share and 9% textile exports of total production in Indian hosiery market. We are present on every platform including multiple online portals. The company is now seeing its third generation guidance since the chairman Din Dayal Gupta. The promoters understand the business well and are very dedicated to the brand. The products are more varied now and the segmentations have changed over time trough our journey. The products today has gone beyond the boundaries of the country and emerged as the highest selling innerwear brand in the UAE and the Middle East. We have 4 manufacturing units over India now including Tirupur, Kolkata (major admin office), Delhi (for socks), Ludhiana(for thermals).
Q: So what is new?
Ankit: Dollar now house mid-premium to premium products. We have collaborated with Pepe Jeans London last year. It is 50:50 joint venture and the Pepe-Dollar innerwear JV is aimed to attract Rs 36 crore FDI from Pepe Jeans Europe BV as FDI while the company will have as FDI while the company will have a total equity of Rs 72 crore. Under this venture we are going to have innerwear, loungewear, sleepwear, athleisure and more and we have already procured the license to manufacture over India, Srilanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The JV products are already on shelf in southern India. The products under this label are a bit top notched and fashionable. We are planning to hold the southern market first and then the western and ultimately the eastern zone with JV.
Q: Why not starting from East despite of having the HQ here?
Shashi: We have our largest manufacturing unit in Tirupur. There we have well organized factory with all facilities like spinning to knitting to stitching to final product. Plus statistically the market of high end innerwear is more flourished there. The East zone is not yet that matured as per our experience. However, it is more adoptive than any. So once we hold the market of south and west, we know the east will be ready to grab the product.
Q: What is your expansion plan for next couple of years?
Ankit: We are looking forward to go with Kiosk model (i.e. a kiosk is a small, temporary, stand-alone booth used in high-traffic areas for marketing purposes). We are now more focused on modern retail chain like EBO (exclusive brand outlets) of Dollar, Popup stores in malls. This industry is much unorganized even in terms of sales. Whereas, the youth today is attracted to the organized platforms such as shopping malls or branded stores. So the market is shifting gradually and we are experiencing the change first hand. In some years the model shopping channel will become the major market. Now we are moving towards it but also continuing with the traditional sale method as the volume market is yet not shifted. It may take a decade for the complete shift to happen. We have strong hold on Men’s wear so now focusing on expanding the Women’s wear as there is huge market of women lingerie that we are yet to capture. Also the kids wear as both inner and outer wears of kids have a special influence of knitted fabrics which we already are specialized in. We are hoping to come up with women athleisure next year itself. So on a whole we are launching products from mid-premium to super-premium range to cater the entire economic pyramid in every segmentation. We want to double up the revenue by next 5years.
Q: Cost of production is a matter of concern today. How do you deal with that?
Ankit: We already have the measures in place to control the costing. Being in the business for over 40years has made us able to handle the market fluctuation very easily. We take technical support to increase the efficiency and the negotiation with the dealers is very smooth having 20-30years old loyal people around. Cotton is a highly fluctuating substance and we work with that but the years long experience allow us to understand the market and stock or de-stock accordingly. We cut the cost of power as most of the production happens by wind power. Also a major part of manufacturing we do from the scratch that allows cutting down the middle-men cost. Dollar has earned the loyalty of stock holders, employees, distributers over the years that also become a huge help in the tough market situation. We have distribution channel with distributers dealing with us by generations like 20-30years of being in the Dollar family. Some of the employees are working since 20-25years. So it’s a huge loyal family that sails the ship efficiently enough to handle costing. It is not a challenge for us.
Most of the cost is dedicated to fabric as 40% of the total cost is constituted by it.
Q: How GST has affected the business?
Shashi: GST has made turbulence in the industry as the low scaled workers are not able to understand the new system and that made a lot of chaos. But we have partnered with the distributers in that time or extended the credit limit for some to assure them our helping hand. They have full faith in us as they have seen us helping them in such tough time. The channels didn’t understand the indirect Tax pattern, they never indulged themselves into it so GST became a huge deal to them, they were not educated enough. We provided them proper assistance from professional consultants to cope with the situation. Job workers like stitchers didn’t fall under any Tax regime before, the fabrics and yarns used to be Tax free so when it all changes we all faces some difficulties to cope with it. We taught them how to prepare the bill and as we already had a subcontractor basis channel so we just had to educate them and not deal with every job workers ourselves.
Q: What kind of Fabrics and Technologies you are using for your products?
Ankit: We use cottons of different sort majorly. Like the Bigboss J-class is made from blending Giza (Egyptian) cotton with normal cotton. Some premium vests are made of Supima cotton which is the lightest weight cotton. Some products are of viscose and also there are micro-modal fabrics. And of course the spandex cotton for athleisure.
We have fully automated processing unit now with machines that dye, cut and sew. The automated processing reduces time as well as increases accuracy, efficiency. Of course there is still scope to improve the technology. When we will be indulging into kids wear in large scale we will definitely need more technical help.
Q: What is your presence in the export and domestic market?
Ankit: We are majorly into domestic market and only 6-6.5% of total sale is contributed to exports which is again limited to majorly in Middle-East. Having fused its position in Gulf countries the company is now assertively looking at the rest of the world with collections that promise to delineate the string. It has made its presence across the globe, some being UAE, Oman, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Nepal, Bhutan, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Kenya, Iran, Ukraine, Togo, Rega and Sudan.
Q: How Kolkata is changing in terms of adopting new technologies? Where do you see the garment industry and your company in next 5 years?
Shashi: Lots of schemes have been taken by the Govt., especially by SME. The organizations are promoting textile parks. There is a new hosiery park is near Dankuni. So the associations are coming forward to make a shift. People are adopting more and more modern technologies every day. Kolkata has the zeal to move forward. As per the hosiery market is concern, we have 4 of the largest hosiery companies are here in Kolkata only. Veteran designers like Anamika Khanna, Sabyasachi are here. Kolkata has always been the art hub, people are more creative here. However, the speed of development is a huge concern here as WB is not known for rapid shifts after all. But the market is changing to the demands and needs. People are brand-conscious now even for innerwear, whereas 20years back they didn’t even have the knowledge of a complete lingerie. So the market of hosiery now is definitely one of the most sort after one. Athleisure is the new big thing as a pair of athleisure can take you to market to 5-star hotel and maintain the comfort all along. We are also moving with the direction of the market shift. Our aim is to become 2000 crore Company by 2023 and be one of the top companies in India.