Interview with Smit Patel

Face2Face
Smit Patel
Smit Patel
Director
Vritika Lifestyle
Vritika Lifestyle

Crossing a generation gap

Riya Trends and Vritika Lifestyle are the textile divisions of the ₹2200-crore Surat based MK Group which has interests in construction (Hindva), diamonds (Carbon Creation), and mining and allied industries (Marvelore). A family of Khenis and Patels, the business was set up six decades back and now GenNext is expanding the horizon. While Riya is a production house manufacturing indutvas or ethnicwear for big brands, Vritika is only into saris and lehengas. Target next is to get into men’s shirts, and a step into footwear too. Richa Bansal in conversation with the dapper Smit Patel, who notched up a turnover of ₹55 crore last year at the helm of this textile division.

When did you step into textiles?

In 2006, my father had a vision of getting into textiles. There was a misconception about textiles being cheaper in Surat, and so he came up with something that talks quality. We command a high price in the market and yet our production house has pending orders for four months, and during peak seasons, even six. We are equipped with the best high-end machinery. We started with six machines and have around 120 right now. We have about 700 workers on our payroll, and 45 more in the designing team, the management and creative teams. The overall number includes the four chief masters who are into sampling, and around 80 who are into the final stitching. 


Tell me about Riya.

The textile division has two companies-Riya Trends and Vritika Lifestyle. Riya serves as a vendor-a production house that manufactures for different companies who then sell it under their own brand names like Vipul Sarees, Vinay, Sanskruti, Sasya, etc. Vinay, one of the biggest names in salwar-kameez, etc, is our biggest client. We design the entire silhouette-be it the detailing or the embellishments, the labeling, and also the packaging. 

For Riya as a unit, what is its turnover? What are the future plans?

Annually, we had a turnover of 55 crore last year. The future plans include coming up with a menswear line in the next eight months. This will be only shirts for men to begin with. 

What is the ground work that has been done for the men's line? Will it be launched as a brand or will you serve as a vendor again?

Hindva is coming up with a multiindustrial park called Hindva Dreams for small to mid-size units. Here we have taken up a 62,000 sq ft plot of land for weaving for men's fabric. Both Riya and Vritika will be doing the manufacturing work, and alongside we will also be working on a brand. We will make sure that the shirts come out very well. Recently, we started working on a venture for men's shoes as well. We had a meeting recently, and are finalising the product which is being sourced from Italy. We are creating a brand out here. It will be there in the market, mostly on e-commerce sites and in the arcade of a boutique hotel concept that we will soon come up with.

When will the industrial park be operational?

It will be operational by this December, and the facility will have weaving only for high-quality cotton for menswear.

What facilities will be available here? Where are you getting the yarn from?

To begin with, there will be 60 Picanol rapier machines; normal ones with 200 width. Picanol are the pioneers in weaving machines; they are the best. We will be getting Karl Mayer warping machines as well. With all this, we will invest topnotch quality in our product line.

We get the yarn mainly from Ahmedabad. The spinning industry in Gujarat has evolved a lot since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for 'Make in India' and the subsidy policy for spinning units. A lot of people have since opened spinning units. Gujarat has a lot of good quality, but it was being sent to the South for spinning from where it used to come back here again. But now, there are a lot of spinning units here as well. So, sourcing of good quality yarn and cotton is no longer a big deal. This has helped us minimise costs and focus on quality.

Anything else related to the textile industry within the industrial park?

Around 30 companies are coming up with their waterjet units inside the park. We are trying for verticals from the entire textile value chain. We have got a good response from spinning companies, and also the finishing and packaging industry. As the demand is met, people will start setting up their units there.

Where do you source your fabrics from? Where do you source your stones, gotta patti and all of these embellishments from?

We source the fabric from Surat, Delhi and at times Kolkata. We have a sourcing team which is dedicated to sourcing laces and stones. There are a lot of small-time firms for laces. Surat can cater to the entire textile value chain-right from yarn to embellishments and finished products in shops.

What is the kind of meterage that you buy annually for your Indianwears-salwar-kameez, saris and churidars?

Our products are mostly for the 30+ woman. The meterage depends on what is the market right now. On an average, we buy at least 50,000 metres of fabrics for all our garmenting.

What is the average productivity at your manufacturing unit in terms of man hours?

In the stitching department, the labourers are not paid per hour. So, they work 9-10 hours. They are paid per piece that they make. Most of the masters are freelancers. All of them are paid on how much they work. Stitching is one of the most technical parts. So, they get paid up to 45,000 a month.

What is the pay that you give to pattern cutters, etc?

Pattern cutters are paid 70-80 per piece for a suit. The companies we work for don't require sizes. They might have different size demands, so we try to keep it free size for most of them.

Now, let's talk about Vritika.

Vritika has around half the turnover of Riya, as it has just been two years. Since we were providing to so many companies, and they were doing really well, we thought of starting our own label. Two years back we launched on a trial basis. We had a small quantity order, but that went through the roof. We had a strict policy of wholesalers, and they took it to the market. We never went to the market ourselves. We kept it simple-a few fixed dealers and no return policy, etc. That policy helped us a lot. The capacity right now is 12 catalogues a year. We are trying to make it two catalogues a month.

Published on: 10/10/2016

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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