Interview with Divej Mehta

Face2Face
Divej Mehta
Divej Mehta
Founder and Managing Director
Tergus Works Pvt Ltd
Tergus Works Pvt Ltd

Expecting 35-40% drop in business this season
Around two years back leather businessman Divej Mehta, founder and managing director of Mumbai-based Tergus Works Pvt Ltd (TWPL), introduced a footwear brand called 'Inmate', with chappals exclusively made by prisoners of the Yerwada prison in Pune. Started in 2017, TWPL is involved in tanning and dressing of leather, manufacture of luggage handbags, saddlery and harness. Mehta spoke to Fibre2Fashion about the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

In which specific areas are you facing major issues?

More than just the cancelled orders, the major issues are the unprecedented closure of major season sales, stocks piled up at warehouses or store locations along with 400 of our imprisoned workforce with no income that they send to their dependent families. About 5,000 people, who receive indirect support from our business, have suddenly become helpless. All of these and much more becomes a worry for us at Inmate.

What steps are you taking or have taken to face the challenges like order cancellation your have cited above?

We started with analysing the situation thoroughly with joint online team meetings. For any problem to be solved, it is of primal importance to gauge the depth and adversity of it. We also got in touch with a few experts from different fields to try understanding the overall impact of COVID-19 and how best could we overcome the adversities.

For instance, we came up with a campaign in which all proceeds generated through online sales will be donated. The product purchased by the customer will be delivered once the lockdown is over, but the money will be used to help and aid the needy. This exercise not only allows us to fulfil our duty as an able company but also spreads the message of being active during a crisis like this. 

Further, our sales during this period ensure a bit of work so that we can immediately start processing upon resuming work.

How critical would be the anticipated loss or reduction of trained manpower on fronts like manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain etc. for your business?

As a company, we are still in our early days as a brand (Inmate) and as a white label job-worker. We focused our efforts majorly on setting our roots right and making a backend that can sustain difficult times. Our model has always been to focus on our strengths. At an unprecedented time like this, our mindset of having stock only for orders in hand has allowed us some serious relief; that is one less problem for us to solve and allows us to have that much free capital for future developments. 

We have always worked on creating models and strategies that best serve our needs and not believed in following any strategy set as per industry standards and that has proved to be beneficial. We are not looking at any major losses even at a time like this, other than anticipated season sale loss or lesser income due to the lockdown.

Have you quantified your projected losses, the basic anticipated work loss, etc?

Definitely, we have projected lower numbers that will not only affect one season, but it will have a major impact on the entire working of the industry, be it restarting or strategising our next steps as we move into a phase of rebuilding. We are looking at a 35-40 per cent drop in business this season and at least an accumulated loss of 20 per cent for the rest of the year.
Published on: 07/05/2020

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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