Interview with Mr Prahalad R Agarwala

Face2Face
Mr Prahalad R Agarwala
Mr Prahalad R Agarwala
Chairman
Rupa & Co. Ltd
Rupa & Co. Ltd

What all constitute as concerns for the industry?

The hosiery industry is dealing with a number of problems such as raw material price hike, financing woes, power crunch and an increase in employees’ dearness allowance. Such issues are likely to halt the operations of the industry across the nation.

Yarn prices have grown up almost by 120% in past couple of months, but still demand has not been affected because it is innerwear and fashion wear category.

The cost of cotton yarn and fabrics, principal raw materials of Hosiery and readymade Garment industries witnessed escalation of 100% to 200% during the previous year. Very recently, Excise application on Branded Garments in recent Budget FY 2010-11 at rate 10.3 %, which is a constraint for SSI / mid sized companies, may inflate prices further.

Rupa has created a plethora of successful Brands in innerwear market. Tell us the key recipe for an intimate wear brand to be success amongst Indian consumers.

In India, the inner wear market is segmented between the organized & unorganized sector. Innerwear ceased to remain a utility item in the ‘80s. However, with change in lifestyles and better buying power, consumers have become more selective and demanding, and this has resulted in branded wear gaining ground.

Branding is a conscious strategy to ward-off the growing competition from international and other domestic brands. We believe that roping in popular brand ambassadors will do a magic to boost the brand's visibility. Small wonder, Rupa's marketing budget has exceeded Rs 40 crore this year. In fact, it was one of the few brands in the 80s and 90s that roped in models for promotion of its products. Rupa is the pioneer in roping in celebrities for endorsing hosiery products. It helped in ensuring higher conversion rate at the point of sales.

In 1999, the company roped in Bollywood actor Govinda as brand ambassador for its Frontline range. We have also worked with Aishwarya Rai way back in 1990. Later, we worked with the likes of Celina Jaitley and Koena Mitra for our women innerwear lines. In 2007, we roped in Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan in 2007 as the brand ambassador of Macroman, a premium sub-brand under the Rupa's stable. In sequel, we hired Ronit Roy to endorse another sub-brand, Jon, and Rajpal Yadav for Frontline. After seeing huge return from Macroman, the company has extended its contract with Hrithik for another three years up to 2012.

The company is concentrating on brand promotion for ensuring growth in terms of turnover and market share. Pursuit for enhancement of volumes of both domestic and export sales is being vigorously followed. With rapidly changing scenario, the accent is not only on product quality but also on style and modernity.

Your Group is planning to tap the capital market to raise resources for expansion and diversification into non-hosiery, readymade garments- news declared a month ago. Can our members from investor community know more about developments into this?

We are seriously looking for growth options available in terms of organic and inorganic growth. There are some vital negotiations in the pipeline that are not possible to disclose at this juncture.

For sustained growth, how has Rupa designed its corporate-social manifesto?

• Fulfilling its responsibility as a corporate citizen, the Rupa group has established the Sobhasaria Engineering College at Sikar in Rajasthan.

• Rupa is part of the Heritage Institute of Technology as well as The Heritage School and Sri Sri Academy in Kolkata, to meet the challenges created in the country owing to increased global competition and rapid technological changes.

• As part of its efforts to give back to society, Rupa is also closely associated with various hospitals, like the Shree Vishudhanand Hospital & Research Institute, Kolkata and Sankara Nethralaya (Eye Hospital), Kolkata.

• Rupa is sincerely committed to producing environmentally friendly clothes that minimize carbon footprint and help to make the planet a greener place. All Rupa products are made from superior and natural fibers that are grown in sustainable farming methods. Rupa ensures that the raw materials and production processes do not destroy the environment with harmful chemicals and conserve water, energy and natural resources.

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Published on: 04/04/2011

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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