Interview with Rajendra Agarwal

Face2Face
Rajendra Agarwal
Rajendra Agarwal
Mentor
Donear Industries Ltd
Donear Industries Ltd

We plan to scale up apparel division, venture into luxury segment

Mumbai-based Donear Industries Limited is one of the leading manufacturers of suiting, shirting and trouser fabrics for over 40 years.  The company has an annual production capacity of around 55 million meters and exports fabrics to more than 20 countries. In 2017, Donear strengthened its position in the market by acquiring Amritsar-based OCM Woolen Mills and Grasim Bhiwani Textile Ltd (GBTL) in Haryana. Mentor Rajendra Agarwal discusses Donear's expanded product portfolio post acquisition and the recent launch of its luxury fabrics brand Grado.

What is the size of the global market for suiting and shirting? What factors influence the market in a big way?

While the global market size is in trillions of US dollars, the Indian textile size was estimated at $150 billion in 2017 and expected to grow to $250 billion by 2019. Indian textile exports will grow from $13 billion now to $82 billion by 2021. Consumption, climate changes, consumer spending patterns and fashion with innovation will influence the market in a big way.

After acquiring OCM, how is your business faring?

The acquisition of OCM, apart from GBTL, has made Donear a formidable group in the textile industry covering the complete basket of products -wool, wool blends, PV, PV blends and cotton. In fact the group has become a one shop solution for both global and domestic consumers.  The acquisition has strengthened the group's position in the market, clearly making it the top producer and retailer of a variety of fabrics.

Please tell us about the newly launched premium fabric brand Grado.

Grado is positioned as a power brand catering to all product segments and across a range of price points. So there is something for everyone. Its premiumness and innovation makes it a fabric of choice for all occasions with the finest quality, trendy designs and vibrant colours. It is a new age brand and will let the wearer be in an exclusive league.

What is the target group for Grado?

The target groups of Grado are not only the discerned customers who believe in premium and luxury choices but also the youth who will love it for the pride it brings on wearing. With Amitabh Bachchan endorsing it for its quality feel, lustre and colours, it will cut across age groups to be an iconic brand.

What about the retail presence of Grado, both online and offline.

Backed by two legacy brands-OCM and GBTL-Grasim has built the distribution strength of Grado on decades of experience. With over 15,000 retail touch points, Grado fabrics are available at all major multi-brand outlets (MBOs) across the country. We recognise that online channels are change agents, and we endeavour to build a formidable presence there very soon.

How many collections do you plan to come up with in a year?

Grado has a year-round collection. The design sensibilities slice across various geographies and correspond to a range of colours and blends.  Around 4,000 designs are made through the year-across cotton, PV blends and wool blends. Those are brought to the market at a consistent frequency so that the consumer is always spoilt for choice, especially with more fervour before the festive season.

What are the best selling price points?

For PV, it is ₹500 to ₹700, for cotton ₹600 to ₹1,000, and for wool and wool blends, it is ₹1,000 to ₹1,500.

What will be the branding and marketing strategy for Grado?

To build brand salience, a lot of research on consumer profiles has been conducted. Grado has focused on an integrated communication approach. Not only are we investing in television and print media, but also integrating that with local on-ground communication through retail support, localised sponsorships and contests. 

For example, we were associated sponsors of the Asia Cup 2018 (the 1st ever textile company to sponsor this series), we integrated this through dedicated and localised communication via contests, both on ground and online, to propel customers to participate and build brand salience. 

The way forward for marketing is to explore niche avenues and distinctly demarcate the brand from others. 

Which are the potential markets for Grado?

Strongholds in India include Punjab, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, the North East, Bihar, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Besides this, we export to more than 100 countries.

What are the key trends shaping menswear fabric? What are your customers in the export and domestic markets looking for?

The key trends include a new middle class and its soaring aspirations, integration of fashion and comfort with technology, expanding occasion-oriented wardrobe, return of custom fit clothing with personalisation and viable eco-friendly products.

Customers expect fast fashion, functional benefits, quick response and speed to market with innovation. Today's youth is an obvious segment for us to tap into. They are looking for a fashion-oriented offering, something distinct that mirrors the fashion sensibilities of Bollywood and Hollywood, something they will not be able to get in the ready-to-wear space. 

Our catalogues tap into this customer fantasy by showing them fabrics, new-age designs and even sketches that they can relay to the tailors. 

How has the China-US trade war impacted the Indian textile industry?

The China-US trade war will have a positive impact on the Indian textile industry. The weak rupee makes exports more appealing and the presence of India in all textile products will appeal to global brands. And India's flexibility in all order sizes is a big plus point.

Does your group plan to expand its product portfolio after OCM and GBTL?

With the acquisition of OCM and GBTL, the Donear Group will definitely expand its product portfolio across all fibres not only in diversified segments but also in volumes. The intention is to scale up the apparel division as well, and venture into luxury ready-to-wear for blazers, suits, trousers and shirts.

What is your take on circular economy and block chain? Are Indian textile biggies taking steps in this direction?

A circular economy is an alternate to traditional linear economy of make, use and dispose. It keeps resources in use for a longer time, extract maximum value while in use, recover and regenerate at the end of its service life. In textiles, it will lead to fast fashion with value at each stage and hence interesting and competitive. The data storage and expansion aided by block chain developments will make all industries, including textiles to be nimble and proactive. The textile industry is still nascent at this stage but leading groups like Donear have started acknowledging and addressing the same. (HO)
Published on: 06/10/2018

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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