Interview with Sumit Mall

Sumit Mall
Sumit Mall
Times Fiberfill
Times Fiberfill

Emphasis should be on using 'Made in India' products

The technical textiles and home furnishing industry is all set to revolutionise in the coming years. Sumit Mall, director of Times Fiberfill talks about the technical textiles and home furnishing industry in India, its strengths and the challenges it faces, and its growth prospects in an interview with

What is the size of the global technical textiles and home furnishing industry? How big is the market in India?

The global technical textiles industry, in a broader sense of the term, is valued at around US$ 250 billion with growth rates ranging from 11 per cent for nonwovens to 2-3 per cent for majority of the sub-sectors. The home furnishing industry is valued at US$ 700 billion and is growing. Due to the wide range of products in both technical textiles and especially home furnishing, a better way to analyse is to look at individual sectors in both the broad segments. The Indian market for technical textiles is estimated at US$ 14 billion, and expected to grow multi-fold in the coming decade. Within this many sectors, geo-tech, build-tech, medi-tech and agro-tech are going to be the major drivers of growth. Home furnishing is valued at about US$ 20 billion, with home textiles’ contribution being more than half. It is a segment which is undergoing major upheavals due to the rise of e-commerce players.

Which countries are the leading players in technical textiles and home furnishing?

Technical textiles: Germany, China, the US, Brazil, Spain, Turkey, and India. Home furnishing: China, India, the US, and EU countries.

Which innovations are set to revolutionise the technical textiles market?

In the global context, I feel the sectors with major innovations would be hygiene and medical. Both these sectors will be aided by innovations in fibre technology. Development of 'smart' fibres will be a disruptive innovation as it would change the way we use technical textile products. In India, the revolution would be the growth of the technical textiles industry itself, and how we are able to integrate technical textile products into the industry and for personal use. We need more research into innovative substitution of conventional textile solutions by technical textile solutions, which would be more cost effective and provide better performance to users. We have to understand that not all substitutions which have taken place in other countries will work in India. Hence, country-focused research is of paramount importance. Our focus has been to analyse an industry, and figure out where our solutions can be beneficial to them. We have since been able to substitute conventional textile solutions with technical textiles in leather industry, garment industry, filtration and home furnishing. Substitutions such as using nonwoven fabrics instead of conventional plastics for bags and using geo-textile bags - both woven and nonwoven - instead of boulders for embankment protection are some of the many such innovative substitutions. These have opened up completely new sectors for the technical textiles industry and bring about faster organic growth than any subsidy-based approach.

Which major challenges restrict the growth and development of the technical textiles industry?

Our industry is facing challenges on various fronts which most manufacturing companies face, but the following, according to me, are the ones which are unique and critical to our industry: 1. Need to increase awareness of correct technical textile solutions among consumers: This needs to be done across the industry by all associated with it. On many occasions, the technical textiles solution provided turns to be incorrect and a new product opportunity is lost. Very few customers and manufacturers in India realise the importance of using the correct product as per specifications. There is always a tendency to buckle under cost pressures and manufacture sub-standard products, which ultimately hurts the industry. This is a common phenomenon with geo-tech and build-tech products. 2. Low institutional demand for technical textile products: Government institutions need to promote the use of technical textiles in their departments, PSUs and construction companies. This probably would be the single largest driver for demand in the industry. Emphasis should be on using 'Made in India' products only. 3. Unavailability of consistent quality of raw materials at a globally competitive price: This problem pertains predominantly to the nonwovens sector. There are also very few manufacturers for polypropylene staple fibres and hollow recycled PET fibres and no indigenous manufacturer for low-melt polyester staple fibres. 4. Lack of high-quality Indian technical textile machine manufacturers: This is a problem in even the conventional textiles. Machine manufacturers in India are years behind China, and decades behind Europe in terms of technology. A strong technical textile machinery base is required to create a solid foundation for the Indian technical textiles industry.
Published on: 27/06/2015

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

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