New opportunities in medical textiles & anti-viral luxury garments
As India's largest exporter of cotton fabrics, Loyal Textiles has won the Texprocil Gold Trophy for 13 years in a row starting 2006-07. Fibre2fashion spoke to D Devadas, Chief Technical & Business Development Officer of Loyal Textiles, to throw some light on its growth story and the new range of medical textile products it is set to launch.
What is the growth story of Loyal Textiles? Which are the 5 good practices followed by your company which has made it what it is today?
Our 5 good practices are as follows:
- Giving utmost importance for business ethics. Our founders and our late CMD Manickam Ramaswami have instilled strong business ethics to be followed in the company.
- Continuous focus on research and development for innovation, introducing new products, improving the quality of the existing products and so on. Loyal Textiles is the first company to have set up air jet weaving, first company to have entered into technical textiles and obtained certification in fire retardant and other safety PPE garments, established an exclusive R&D centre recognised by DSIR, Ministry of Technology, Government of India and many others.
- Inclusive and sustainable growth. Loyal Textiles is an integrated textile mill with operations from ginning to garment manufacturing.
- Manufacturing excellence achieved through highest level of production and productivity.
- Customer centric. Utmost care is given for customer satisfaction. Quality is a way of life at Loyal Textiles achieved through our committed workforce.
How is Loyal Textiles trying to differentiate itself in the textile industry with respect to its close competitors?
By winning the trust from all our stake holders through innovation, technology, on time delivery, ethical business values, quality products and our readiness to accept changes. We always live up to the expectations of our customers. Though we are an industry with over 100 years of heritage, we keep updating and changing with continuous improvements in products and processes - we are young in this aspect.
Which are your biggest markets as on date? Which new markets are you planning to tap in the next few years?
US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are our biggest markets. We are planning to tap ASEAN markets in future. We will also be looking to double our current markets in India.
Please give us bifurcation of sales in terms of export and domestic markets.
70 per cent of our turnover comes from exports and 30 per cent from the domestic markets.
Which brands and retailers are you tied up with?
To name a few- H&M, Snickers, Landau, Yagi, Hugo Boss, P&P Loyal,Tommy Hilfiger.
What are your future growth plans and strategies? Any major tie-ups in the offing?
We plan to expand our market in India for work wear and technical garments. We are already a licensee of Proban (Solvay) for fire retardant products and now forging a tie up with them for product promotion in global markets. We are now co-branding with R|Elan of Reliance Industries Ltd and HeiQ Viroblock for anti-viral textiles products. We are entering medical textiles in a major way.
We will also be co-branding with Liva of Aditya Birla Group for value added viscose products. Tie-up with Cool-i-Bar for medically enhanced textiles for cancer patients is on the ropes. We are tying up with SITRA for new innovations in medical textiles through NDA and MOUs.
Please elaborate on your plans to create luxury brands in men's inner wear and ladies leg wear. What will be the USP of such products?
Awareness of personal hygiene has increased globally after Covid-19 pandemic. Hence anti-viral luxury textile products in both men's inner wear and ladies leg wear will be our focus. Brand extension of our Supera Shield is being envisaged. Triple shield technology will be our USP. Of course our heritage value, trust, brand equity, innovative approach will continue to be our USPs whereas our strong R&D will bring in more value. Flexible manufacturing set up to have parallel short-runs, capable of handling different fibres and blends, is an important USP of Loyal, which enables to meet customer's requirements in short span of time.
How does your supply chain network work? What regions of the world are parts of your supply chain?
As we have a heritage of over 100 years in textile industry, we have a strong supply chain network. Japan, Taiwan, China, ASEAN and Europe are our major supply chain regions.
What is the annual production of yarn, woven and knitted fabrics?
We produce about 25,000 tonnes of yarn, 70 million metres of woven fabrics and 24,000 tonnes of knitting fabrics per year.
How big is the R&D team in Naidupet? What are the latest innovations the team is working on?
Our R&D centre is recognised by the Department of Science and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. We are in the process of shifting our R&D centre from Naidupet, AP to Sattur in TN for administrative proximity to our major production facilities. We have about 20 team members working in the R&D team. Currently we are working on medical PPEs, masks, anti-viral textiles, molten metal splash safety wear etc.
How is the technical textile market of India different from other countries? What are the unique challenges of this market here? Which products have the highest demand?
Technical textile market in India is still in the nascent stage whereas the global markets are mature and vast due to government regulations, high quality expectations and standards. Hence Indian market has a huge potential to grow exponentially. As the safety standards are still at a very early stage, the expectation on low price is a dampening factor. Government regulations on safety and PPE are not yet in place, but it is slowly emerging and taking shape. Hence growth potential is wide and deep. Fire retardant garments, reflective and high visibility garments, ant-static, acid resistant, hazmat suit, medical PPE, community and medical masks have the highest demand.
Please give us more details about world's first Covid compliant PPE kit that you are set to launch. What is the technology and fabric used? Who are your project partners? How is the demand and supply being worked out?
Loyal's R&D team has succeeded in developing a reusable medical PPE which has passed the viral penetration resistance test. In order to make it Covid compliant, we have partnered with World University of Design for design of the garment, with Reliance Industries Ltd's R|Elan Inherent Anti-Microbial Fibres and with HeiQ Viroblock, Switzerland to make our reusable PPE, the first of its kind in the world powered by Triple Virus Shield. Fabric used is woven out of R|Elan Feel Fresh Anti-Microbial fibre and organic combed cotton. This fabric has been laminated with a viral barrier PU film and treated with HeiQ Viroblock. We project a demand of about 1,000 sets per day for the next 3 months and thereafter about 300 pieces per day as awareness for the need of PPE in all clinics and hospitals are setting in and most of them cannot afford single use disposables.
This reusable PPE is a wraparound gown with overlap at the back. The design is carefully engineered for ease of donning and quick doffing. This kit doesn't need the assistance of another person to don or doff. The wearer will never touch his inner wear during donning and doffing. Special thumb loops avoid accidental slipping of the sleeves. Knots for tying are on the side instead of at the back.
For Indian market, the total value for masks is Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 1,800 crore PPEs. For export market, the total value of masks is $24 billion and $19 billion for PPEs.
In Indian market, Loyal's share is 0.5 per cent in masks (Rs 9 crores) and 1 per cent in PPEs (Rs 18 crores).
In export market, Loyal's combined share (masks+PPEs) is 0.05 per cent ($21.5 million/Rs 16 crores).
Our total target is set for Rs 43 to 50 crores / year.
How long did it take for coming out with this product right from research stage to getting it tested by World University, Delhi? What are the major certifications that this product entails?
We started the basic research and design work in February 2020. It took about 5 months to reach here, though our first reusable PPE kit that was launched as early as mid-April 2020. This product has passed:
1) Viral Penetration Resistance test: ASTM F 1671 - 2013
2) Synthetic Blood Penetration Resistance Test for the fabric: ASTM F 1671/F
3) SBPR test for Seams: ASTM 1670-M-08/2014
4) 25 wash test
HeiQ has tested the textile fabric treated with Viroblock for 1) ISO 18184 (H3N2 Human influenza A) 2) ISO 18184 (Corona Virus 229 E) 3) SARS - COV2 4) ISO- 20743 (Sendai Virus) and many other tests.
RIL R|Elan has tested their Feel Fresh fibres inherent anti-microbial property 1) JISL 1902 & ISO 20743 for Antimicrobial and 2)ISO 10993 -1- 2002 for skin friendliness 3) 50 wash test.
There are some other products as well that you would be introducing - like masks and garments. Which markets are they targeted at? Will they be retailed in the domestic market as well?
- Anti- Viral Triple Shield Masks under Supera Shield will be marketed both in India and abroad.
- Anti-Viral garments like men's t shirts and pants; women's t shirts & leggings ; children's t shirts & men's underwear will be retailed first on line and later in retail shops in India
- Anti-Viral export garments like men's shirts, men's trousers, sweat shirts, round neck t shirts & protective gowns will be exported through our JVC in Italy : Gruppo P&P Loyal
- We have partnered with a vending machine manufacturer for automatic mask vending - for the first time in India