❝With a turnover of around ` 150 cr, five manufacturing units guaranteeing manufacturing capacity of approximately 8,20,000 pieces and strong technology advancement, Mumbai- based Choudhary Garments is definitely geared for strong growth in times to come. Founded by late Ghisaram Choudhary, the company has a good reputation and track record, bolstered by the presence of Kamal Choudhary, his wife Suman and now the third generation entrepreneurs Prabhav and Akansha Bakshi Choudhary, who are taking the company to newer heights. The company boasts of its expertise in design and production, having setup the most advanced garment manufacturing line in India at the moment, which is a Cut to Pack Multi Product Line. Young and dynamic Prabhav Choudhary shared some interesting plans and strategies for the company and information about the vision, expansion and current market scenario with Team PERFECT SOURCING… ❞
PS:Could you please share the
journey of Choudhary Garments?
PC:The organisation has constantly evolved. It began with trading textiles moving into manufacturing men’s shirts and high fashion ladies garments. To broaden our fabric base, CG has set up a sourcing office in Shaoxing, China. We are importing 60% of our fabrics from Shaoxing. We mainly do garments in knits and woven and make tops, sweat shirts, jackets, dresses and bottoms. We are investing a lot in lean manufacturing. Our pilot Cut to Pack Sewing Line is ready, and by end July, all our lines will be converted to Cut to Pack Lines. We are also investing in training of operators and R&D department.
PS:What is the monthly capacity of each of the company’s manufacturing units? Do you plan to increase capacity by adding new machines? If yes, which new areas or machines is the company is looking to invest in?
PC:CG has 5 manufacturing units. Its manufacturing capacity is app 8,20,000 pcs. We have three units of eight lines each with a total capacity of approximately 3,20,000 pieces. There are two units with 15 lines each with a total capacity of around 5,00,000 pcs. We are looking at setting up 50 more lines by the end of 2019. Traditionally, there has always been a focus on hardware in the garment industry like big machines, bigger factories, etc. Our focus, however, is software ERP, lean production, industrial engineering, R&D, training and the like. We ship to all major retailers in the US, Europe and UK.
PS:How is the business going at the moment? Has it seen a slight slump due to the rupee getting stronger?
PC:Business has never been better. With all the retailers consolidating and the barriers for entry to the garment industry rising, if one is able to provide higher AQL, shorter lead times and shaper prices, there is an ample opportunity to grow. The variations in the rupee’s intrinsic value has also helped in increasing our efficiencies. In spite of rising costs and reduction in government incentives, the Garment Industry is still successful in China due to higher efficiencies, value added production and a wide variety of fabrics. We are adopting the same strategy. The key for growth is to work on increasing manufacturing techniques, efficiencies and making products with higher values. The AEPC has also worked with the Government in making imports of fabrics from China easier. This has to be leveraged. In the long term, exporters need to move to states like Andhra Pradesh where cost of manufacturing can be as low as Bangladesh. However, skill has to be developed in such states. We are also considering setting up factories in Andhra Pradesh for orders that are more basic and have higher volumes.
PS:Which international markets are doing well at the moment and why?
PC:The US continues to remain strong and the biggest consumer in the world. However, there is a shift in consumer preferences and they are moving away from high end retailers to discount chains and online retailers.
PS:What is the strategy of growth for 2017-18?
PC:Over the last few years, we invested in Project Archimedes, which focussed on upgrading our existing capacities to innovative lean production methods and maximising efficiency of man, methods, space and machines. We have increased our manufacturing capacity by 30% within existing factories. By 2019, we plan to setup 50 Lines between Daman and Bangalore, and a washing unit in a chemical zone in Daman. We have worked on our Project Archimedes for 3 years, which is basically about building a foundation for sustained growth. As part of Project Archimedes, we have bought over 1,000 sewing machines to upgrade our existing structure, and invested heavily in lean production. Most of our factories have separate departments for cutting, stitching and finishing and that too on the same line. This allows us to cut down on several processes, reduce WIP, achieve better AQL and ship with shorter lead times. In order to make this line successful, a lot of homework had to be done. We had to work on making our internal process flows lean and decentralise information.
PS:Cost of production is a critical factor today; what steps have been taken by the company to reduce cost in different areas and how?
PC:With our factories around Mumbai, cost of production is a critical factor. We broke down existing factories and revamped them. We bought new machinery and improved space utilisation in these factories. Moreover, we are shifting the entire production to Cut to Pack Lines. As we do ladies products, there are only a few specialised machines we can invest in. It is more about the software as ladies products are constantly changing. We have setup an R&D Department, comprised of an IE Dept., Mechanic Dept. and Technical Dept., which invests a lot of time in doing R&D and machine preparation before the line is set up. We have also overhauled teams at all levels, and the average age of the organisation is 32 years. This brings in a lot of innovation and dedication. Our ERP, Visual Gems, has played a crucial role in decentralising data and reducing redundancies. After three years of implementation and training, we are now booking orders, planning and seeing our OCRs online. This has helped us reduce paperwork radically while also reducing unnecessary manpower. The ERP has helped track the flow of information from when the order is booked till shipment, and helped us improve our internal process flows.
PS:How much stress does the company lay on the innovation of products? Are there some specific innovative products you have come up recently in order to stay competitive?
PC:We have a sampling and R&D Unit in our Head Office. Our designers work closely with our R&D team (IE, Technical Executive and Mechanic) to develop styles. While conceptualising Project Archimedes, we realised there was a dip in production during the winter season. As a result, we worked on adding winter products like jackets and sweatshirts to our collection and we see winter becoming a bigger season than summer by 2019, due to higher FOB’s for winter products.
PS:What, according to you, are the five most challenging areas for Indian apparel industry and how do you plan to tackle the same?
PC:Limited Fabric Sourcing; long lead times, for which we are working with our customers on Value Process Mapping, where we asses which processes are taking time in the T&A and work on reducing these times. Along with this, high prices, quality issues, centralised data and micromanagement are the main challenging areas. The sixth challenge is lack of flexibility in production and we have sorted this out with the help of our IE Department and multi-skilled tailors.
PS:Do you think India can attain a good position in apparel exports as compared to Bangladesh and China or Vietnam?
PC:The current macro environment is very favourable for India. With the TPP cancellation and unveiling of a new textile policy and incentives from states like Andhra Pradesh, things look brighter for India. If exporters can leverage fabric capabilities of China, this can be a big game changer. There is also more synchronisation required between quality, R&D and management. If the deskilling of operations and machine setting is done correctly, we can get pristine needlework and quality from all lines.
PS:What are your inputs on polyester replacing cotton yarn?
PC:It is difficult to replace a fibre, especially cotton. Like fashion trends, there are fabric trends. The current trend is inclined more towards viscose and cellulose-based fibres.
PS:Your take on current scenario on textile industry?
PC:After cancellation of the TPP, the cost of manufacturing in India is now the same as in Vietnam. Moreover, we are getting more queries from customers about products that were previously manufactured in China due to Trump’s stand on China. In addition to this, with the Government supporting the Indian Garment Industry, the current scenario is positive for the growth of the textile and apparel industry of India.