The Ashok Piramal Group started out in 1934 with a successful textiles venture - The Morarjee Goculdas Spinning & Weaving Co Ltd. Established in 1871, it is the oldest textile unit in the country and the fifth company to be listed on the stock exchange. Today the Group enjoys formidable presence in diversified business areas viz Engineering & Electronics, Retail & Entertainment and Real estate. Morarjee Textiles Ltd (MTL), the textile arm of this diversified Group, is a leading player in the premium shirting fabric business and high fashion printed fabric business for global markets.The shirting division was formed as a joint venture with Manifattura di Valle Brembana, a leading Italian Textile company in 1996. MTL is the first company to have successfully entered a joint venture with an Italian company for yam dyed shirting fabric. In 2003, MTL bought over Brembana's stake of 50% and established its own Italian company, a 100% subsidiary, Morarjee International s.r.l. It is the first Indian company to have introduced a seasonal collection. MTL entered the garments business in mid 2004 by establishing a subsidiary company - Integra Apparels & Textiles Pvt Ltd. This forward integration move focuses on garments for women, men and children in the international market. 34 years old a young entrepreneur Mr Harsh Piramal is the Executive Vice Chairman of Morarjee Textiles Limited and PMP Components (P) Ltd which is part of the Ashok Piramal Group. In 2004, Mr Piramal took over Morarjee Textiles and spun it towards garment manufacturing. He has taken the company from manufacturing to retail and also changed the product portfolio. He has been responsible for changing the fabric from stand fabrics to higher-end fabrics. This not only gave a niche in the Indian market but also opened up the global market for the company’s products.The auto engineering business has also witnessed accelerated growth under his leadership. Mr Piramal began his career at venture capital firm Indocean Chase Capital Partners (now part of JP Morgan Chase). After his MBA, he founded Thundercloud Technologies, an IT company, in May 2000. In August 2001, he became COO – Allied Pharma Businesses at Nicholas Piramal India Limited. He successfully turned the loss making vitamins division around and launched the ‘Wellspring’ brand for the pathology labs division. Mr Piramal plays competitive polo at the national level and is a keen football player and fan. He co-founded
The Ashok Piramal Group has multiple business interests. How has the journey on textiles course so far been?
Well, Morarjee Textiles was founded in 1871 and was taken over by my family in 1934, so it has been a long journey indeed! The journey has been full of ups and downs. However, after passing through a tough phase following the Mumbai textile strike of the 1980s, the company has done well. Of course, due to the global recession times have once again become demanding. But today we are in a fortunate position where, after many years of hard work, our products are recognised amongst our customers and even competitors as world class.
What remarks would you make on global textile and clothing industry these days? Where do you see Indian textiles and clothing placed on the map of this industry?
The global textile and garments industry is going through an extremely tough phase. As you know, global demand has reduced dramatically as retail sales in the largest markets, the US and Europe, have registered declines or minimal growth in the last 2 quarters. Add to this the overcapacity that exists around the globe, and I would say that we have not seen the end of consolidation or closure for textile and garment producers. We in India are not immune to this either - India’s share of the world market is only about 4%, but we have not been spared – most textile and garment units are running at minimal capacity utilisation today. The recession has made current environment extremely challenging – today the only way to survive in India is to either have world-scale capacities or to be a niche player manufacturing high end fabrics or garments.
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.