Interview with Dr. S. K. Chaudhuri

Face2Face
Dr. S. K. Chaudhuri
Dr. S. K. Chaudhuri
Regional Director
Woolmark - India & S.E.Asia
Woolmark - India & S.E.Asia

The Woolmark Company (India/S.E.Asia) is the branch company of World famous Woolmark under ownership of the Australian Wool Services -the world's leading wool fibre textile authority with over 60 years experience in the wool industry and expertise in textile innovation and wool technology. Dr. S.K.Chaudhuri, presently the Regional Director for Woolmark (India/S.E.Asia), joined Woolmark in 1985 as a Branch Director for India & Nepal. Based in New Delhi, he is directly responsible for 16 countries under his purview for the Woolmark Company’s operations. He obtained his Bachelor Degree in Textile Technology from the Calcutta University and Masters in Textile Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi where he topped his batch. He was awarded National Scholarship by the Government of India for acquiring Ph.D. in Fibre Science from the University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology-U.K. Dr. Chaudhuri is the fellow of the Textile Institute (Manchester) and a Chartered Textile Technologist. His rich experience and brilliant academic career brought him rich accolades. He was awarded the ‘Certificate of Honour’ for his distinguished services to wool textile industry by the Indian Wool Mills Federation in 1999. As a part of his commitments to the Indian Wool Textile Industry, he has also led high profile Ministerial, Government and Senior Management delegations to Australia, New Zealand and Europe for wool familiarization and other technical programmes. His initiatives for the development of Human Resources both in technical and design front in the country are notable. Indian Institute of Technology-New Delhi has awarded him the ‘Pride of the Department’ award 2000 in recognition to his contribution to the industry. Face2Face team at www.fibre2fashion.com takes proud to present Dr. S. K. Chaudhuri as the guest of this week to privilege our visitors with a talk on issues from the Wool –Industry and his valuable comments on them.

If Australian and Chinese wool markets be termed matured in all respect, what is your comment on the wool market in India?

I hope that by saying wool market you are referring to the raw wool production. If it is so, then I must tell you that we are far behind at least as far as Australia is concerned. We do not have any sheep management whatsoever. Our raw wool production process is comparatively primitive, fragmented and highly unscientific. Our yield sheep/year is about 1/4th of that of an Australian Merino. The wool quality is also inferior. We do not have any grading system at all which makes our quality further inferior.

International wool market is affected by several factors. Could you please enumerate them?

Naturally like any other business it has its ups and downs linked to the market forces. The wool growing is also dependent on various external factors. Starting from climatic criteria to national and international events will impact also the wool business.

Woolmark is known for setting international standards. Please explain the different types of services offered by your company in India?

Among various technical and marketing activities, the most important component of our operation is “Woolmark Licensing”. Woolmark licensing is not only to make sure that our licensees maintain our stringent quality standards but also to ensure that the sanctity of our marks is maintained by checking the misuse etc. We are active as well in providing technical consultancy, marketing consultancy, market information etc.

What steps need to be taken to raise the quality of Indian wool?

"I hope you are talking about raw wool again when you say Indian Wool. The subject of raw wool is also discussed. Let us talk about improving the quality, productivity and marketability of Indian Woollens. Sectors like shawls and knitwears which are truly decentralized need more attention from all concerned. We need to provide the industry with some sort of common facility centre to help them getting right quality dyed yarns and get their shawls finished at international level. The design input is also desperately needed. We need to source input from international design experts to create collections/ products suitable for tough overseas markets."

Being a dominating player Woolmark must have several plans for developing the nascent Indian market and besides, making Indian wool competitive in the world markets. What are they?

In the globalised market our survival and prosperity lie solely on innovation and internationalization. We have to be quality competitive, price competitive and market led producer. Our image in the international market has also to be set right. We need to be seen in all important international forums with our products. TEC knitwear is one such important innovation given by Woolmark Company to the consumers. Image building is singularly important today. We need to conduct buyer/sellers meet in important market regularly. The need of proper education and training is also to be addressed.

Woolmark is known for research or marketing initiatives. Please inform about your company efforts to popularize wool usage in India?

Almost 300 million products convey Woolmark in a year around the world. This enormous exposure of our mark which is synonymous with quality and purity of wool gives due promotion to wool products. We organize a big wool fashion event every year in Delhi to inform retailers, traders and mainly the consumers on what they can expect in wool and woolen for coming season. Our retail staff training in 12 -14 cities in India every year adds tremendous value to the education and training. Our participation in Texstyle Fair, Carpet Fair etc. are also the part of the concrete efforts we put to show-case Indian wool products. Our seminars and conferences are always sought after events among the trade and industry partners.

Do you feel collaborative efforts like mixing and blending of Indian wool with say Chinese or Australian wool can value-add the final products look, feel and ultimate utility?

India is a blend market. Our climate does not permit us to use 100% wool garments. Wool blend menswear trousering fabric is quite popular in Indian market. There are several qualities of wool blend fabrics available in our market. 70 % polyester/ 30% wool, 55% polyester/ 45% wool are the two most popular trousering fabrics in India. The addition of wool in the blend undoubtedly enhances its overall quality drape and looks. Wool adds value to the product.

Wool prices are currently unstable. What holds for the near future in terms of prices and availability in the global markets?

The price of raw wool is again market led phenomenon. It depends very much on the market norms and mechanism. Industry always prefers to have raw wool prices in stable form and without any severe fluctuation. The Australian wool production has gone down quite significantly in last few years. This may impact in the overall availability and prices.
Published on: 03/10/2006

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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