How big is your team of research and innovation in Dubai? As a location, why did you choose Dubai and not keep your R&D team inhouse in Pakistan?
Our lab in Dubai is a mirror image of our development laundry in Karachi. Our goal for the lab was to have a space where we can co-create eco-friendly products with our customers and our technical teams. It has been successful for us and majority of the customers have returned within the same year for a second trip.
What new fabric technologies and product designs is your team working on? What are the new trends in US and European markets observed by them?
Circularity in our products is at the heart of all the innovations we are working on in 2020 and beyond. We keep asking ourselves how we can minimise the use of precious resources like water and energy in our supply chain whilst at the same time add exciting new performance and aesthetic features to our product-line. For example, hemp would be one of those fibres which we feel will be extremely important to the denim eco-system in the future.
What do you foresee about Pakistan's denim industry? What factors are going to drive its growth story?
Pakistan unlike other denim producing giants in Asia, is predominantly dependent on exports due to lack of local consumer spending power. Hence, companies like ours have no choice but to be the best in every way. This is true not only in denim but in all textiles being produced in Pakistan - be it in innovation, quality or sustainability - we are ahead of the curve. This is something more and more customers are discovering and interest in Pakistan as a major textile sourcing destination is growing by the day.
What are some of the challenges faced by denim manufacturers in Pakistan?
Like any developing country, Pakistan does have its own set of challenges - cost of energy is probably the biggest right now. However, this is not a long-term issue as alternative energy is becoming cheaper by the day and at Artistic Milliners, we have already installed renewable energy in most of our locations and will continue to offset our cost and carbon footprint by investing in renewables.
What next on the agenda in your efforts towards sustainability?
Our goal is to become a carbon negative/climate positive company and we continue to aggressively invest in this space and have some incredible projects in the pipeline. For example, our company is recycling around 85 per cent of its wastewater and we will be increasing this number to 92 per cent in all our mills and factories by 2022. Moreover, we have installed a fifty-megawatt wind farm which is providing seven thousand households with renewable energy with zero emission of greenhouse gases. Based on the success and viability of our first farm, we have recently signed on another fifty megawatts of renewable wind energy and 5 megawatts of solar power to further our company's positive impact.
What are your goals for the next 5 years? How do you plan to achieve them?
For decades we have had a focus on quality, service and innovation as the driving force of our company but in the last 10 years, we have increased our efforts in community and sustainability. So, our next 5-years focus will continue to be on responsible manufacturing. This includes social wellbeing, transparency and traceability. We are collaborating with local NGO's like the 'Smile again' foundation and global institutions like UN and IFC to work on important topics like gender equality/inclusivity, poverty alleviation, healthcare, education and water stewardship. We feel the more we invest in our people and natural environment, the longer our company will survive and thrive as a leading textile manufacturer.
Other than this, we will be leveraging modern technology more than ever before including working on Industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence to improve our resource management and decision-making.
What are your expansion plans?
We have been aggressively expanding our capacities last thirteen years in all segments of our business. We are now looking to consolidate production and turn our attention to disruptive technologies to find new solutions to traditional issues. (PC)
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