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Executive Director Artistic Fabric Mills
Where do you secure raw materials from?
The cotton we use comes predominantly from domestic sources, as Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world and the quality is conducive to denim production. Others fibres are imported from companies such as Invista (Singapore and Far East) or Lenzing (Austria). When it comes to dyes and chemicals, we procure only the best from European sources, as quality is our first priority.
How environmentally sustainable are your manufacturing units? What steps are you taking to reduce the consumption of water during the various stages of manufacturing?
Sustainability is the key to going forward. The denim industry created a lot of harm to the environment, but fortunately, of late, there is a major drive to change that. Artistic Fabric Mills and Garment Industries have also launched a drive for the last two years to be more environmentally friendly and to play our part to preserve the Earth for our future generations. We are currently chosen as the preferred vendor by one of our European customers for a pilot project because of our steps towards energy conservation, water recycling, zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. We are also planning to reduce our carbon emissions quite significantly. In addition to this, we have installed a caustic recovery unit. So we recycle and reuse the caustic chemicals we use in our dyeing and finishing processes. In keeping with this sustainable initiative, we are also targeting LEEDS Silver Certification from the US Green Building Council for our new garment units.
Water and gas are scarce in Pakistan, so we have recently started production of around 15 mega watts on a turbine that has a multi-fuel boiler, and is capable of running on alternate sources.
We have a waste water treatment plant with a capacity of 750,000 gallons per day to recycle water. This plant enables us to recycle 60 per cent of our effluent by using biological treatment, filtration and reverse osmosis which we then reuse in our process departments.
What has been your growth percentage in the last two years? What is the target for the next two years?
AFM has grown by about 40 per cent in the last two years. AGI division has grown by about 25 per cent. This is due to our strong focus on innovation, quality and service. Internationally, Pakistan is fast gaining recognition as one of the better destinations for full-package denim production. Our goal is to keep improving, so we have set ourselves the lofty target of achieving the same growth rate over the next couple of years, if not higher.
What are the problems that denim manufacturing faces in Pakistan and what steps are being taken to resolve them?
The problems being faced by the denim industry are energy shortage, water scarcity, rising income, fluctuating currency and a lack of political stability. The various textile bodies are making efforts to voice the concerns of industrialists to government bodies so that corrective action can be taken. Gas pipelines are being put in place to resolve the energy deficit. Several other power projects are being launched. To conserve water, companies are making efforts at their own end and the textile ministry is trying to ensure that the Pak rupee is at a stable parity with our trading partners, so our exports are competitive. One of the major breakthroughs in recent times was the granting of GSP+ status by the European Union (EU), and that has helped boost trade with the EU.
What steps do you take to deal with the political uncertainty that hampers work from time to time?
Unfortunately, Pakistan doesn't quite enjoy the same political stability as some of our competitors in the region. But even in an adverse climate, we have managed to flourish through hard work, dedication and planning. However, we have seen a gradual improvement in the last couple of years, and with the latest security measures being taken by the government and the investments in industry and infrastructure, we are optimistic about better days in the near future.