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Mr. Robert McKee
Global Fashion Industry Strategy Director Infor
Domestic developers tend to lack the specific expertise and domain skills the businesses actually need.
In an exclusive interview to Fibre2Fashion, Mr. Robert McKee talks about the Indian textile industry and the various software applications put to use by it. He also discusses about Infor as a leading software solution provider in the country.
Robert McKee has held several senior positions at various textile organizations and companies. Owing to his immense experience and knowledge in the field of textiles and fashion, he was given the post of Global Industry Strategy Director at Infor.
He is a regular speaker at industry events. His knowledge and skills in retailing, sourcing, manufacturing and product development within the fashion industry has earned him the repute of an industry guru.
What have you got to say about the Indian textile and apparel industry?
There are many facets to the Indian market. Firstly, there is the perennial issue of labour prices. The textile manufacture, apparel, and fashion industry is obsessed with low labour rates. However, in the value chain from yarn to finished product, it is often the smallest factor. Many Indian businesses are now realizing this and switching their focus towards more substantial issues that can transform the business.
It is also worth remembering that apparel and textile manufacturing typically occurs early in economic evolution. India has already gone through this phase, and if anything, is typically a little further down the line of economic evolution than China. For example, there are now many businesses involved in heavy manufacture and hi-tech goods.
This is not to say that the textile market in India has finished. It has an impressive track record and possible future growth. But the fact remains that it is unlikely we will see a huge spurt of growth now: Indian textile manufacture has moved into a more stable phase.
There are one or two factors that may yet energise this growth and provide a catalyst for the Indian market. Firstly, the development of trade agreements that makes India more attractive for consuming territories such as the EU. Secondly, a dramatic improvement in the infrastructure related to exporting goods.
Infrastructure is less of a problem for India as the growth of the economy has meant an increased domestic consumption base (to the point that India is now importing goods). Moving goods around the domestic market is far easier than international export.
Why do you think is there a need for western software packages in the apparel and garment industry when there is ample of manpower?
There is often a challenge in demonstrating why a business needs to invest in western software packages - when factory owners have access to a local market that is awash with people that can build it, including India’s small army of PhD educated software developers.
However, these domestic developers tend to lack the specific expertise and domain skills the businesses actually need. As a result, larger enterprises and aggressively growing start-ups alike are beginning to see the need for standardized software away from proprietary, domestic alternatives.
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