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Interview with Nitesh Mittal

Nitesh Mittal
Nitesh Mittal

Kusumgar Corporates Private Limited
Kusumgar Corporates Private Limited

We need stringent policies for technical textiles

Kusumgar Corporates is a leading manufacturer of technical textiles and specialty textiles genre, encompassing a wide spectrum of industrial fabrics products and technical applications. Nitesh Mittal , Senior Manager - Marketing, discusses the prospects of technical textiles in India.

What makes Kusumgar Corporates a leading and one of the most renowned technical textiles manufacturers of India?

We are one of a kind company in India which is into the manufacturing of woven synthetic fabrics and catering to several industries worldwide. Our diversified product range makes us unique and marks our presence in almost all the verticals of technical textiles. Our focus has remained on product innovation and improvement which has helped us in creating a niche and building a brand name that shares industry goodwill not only in India but globally. Our vision is to transform the lives of people through innovation in textile technologies. We have a customer-centric approach with zero tolerance to failure. The company has a basic philosophy to adopt changing technologies and develop products that provide growth not only to the company, but also contributes to the larger cause of the nation.

What are the reasons for slower growth of technical textiles industry in India in spite of the huge potential it holds?

India is becoming the manufacturing hub for technical textiles (TT) and we can see a bright future. One of the major reasons for the slow growth of TT in India until now was the lesser availability of raw material. Most of the technical textile components are made from high-end synthetic fibres. However, we being one of the largest cotton producing countries have not been able to manufacture and cater to the TT market. Another reason for the slow pace growth is the awareness of the consumer about technical textiles. The government of India under the ministry of textiles and other organisations have done an excellent job in the last decade in creating awareness about TT in India. Equally encouraging is the fiscal benefits provided in terms of subsidies to promote TT. The need of the hour now is to introduce regulations of national interest to promote technical textiles. As a whole, TT, a segment unknown to the country back in 1992, has become the  buzzword for entrepreneurs and industry, and it is time for the country to adopt a mature approach for the real strategical growth of TT in India.

Among the various segments within technical textiles industry, Kusumgar caters to the armed forces, industrial fabrics, geosynthetic, sports, etc. Which are the fastest growing segments and why?

As I mentioned earlier, we have been catering to almost all the segments of TT in one way or the other. The potential with each of the segments is immense whether it is military, industrial or sports. Our military is the second largest in the world, and if we combine homeland security including paramilitary and police forces, we are the largest in the world. Over 90 per cent of the textiles used by our forces are conventional, and there is immense scope of improvement and usage of speciality textiles. 

Industrial textiles have been growing at 8 per cent globally, and are expected to further increase at 12 per cent in the coming years. With unique strength to weight ratio and flexibility that textile provides, metals will be replaced by composites and textiles in most of the industries globally. 

The sports industry, I feel, is one of the fastest growing industries globally and we can see a great potential in the coming years. Today, with increased paying capacity and the young generation more inclined towards leisure activities, sportech will be one of the fastest growing segments.

Who are your major customers in India? What about exports?

The Indian ministry of defence is our biggest customer in terms of volumes. Our domestic-to-export ratio is 70:30, and we are trying to increase the export ratio. By 2020, our plans are to make it 50:50. We are exporting fabrics for parachutes, automotive and industrial applications mainly to the US and EU. Being critical applications there are a lot of qualifications and approvals involved before the actual orders come. Patience is the key in these markets. Companies have to be persistent in their approach, and should remain focused as penetrating these markets is the most difficult task. However, the good news is the competition is limited, and you always have a chance.

Any plans to expand to any other regions in the near future?

Currently, our focus is to further expand our business in the aeronautical, industrial and sports segments especially in the US. The market potential of the US itself is huge, and India currently stands nowhere in the supply chain. Needless to say, there is still a lot of potential which is untouched in the South American and Asian countries as well.

How do you see your market segment growing in the next 5-10 years, both locally and internationally?

Future always looks good, or atleast we should hope that it will be good. What I mean is, it's really optimistic and the market is growing at a good pace. To sustain the business, one has to continuously develop and evolve as a solution provider to cater to the ever-increasing demands of the customer. What looks niche today is going to be a commodity tomorrow.

Tell us about your technical textile consulting services. What is the scope of these services?

With decades of experience and expertise in this industry, and the industry goodwill that we enjoy, we consider consulting services as a payback to our own industry/people. We do not really consider it as a business, but as a responsibility.

To expedite growth in TT production in India, what measures and steps would you recommend?

I believe awareness among the people is the most important thing. The government should make stringent policies and regulatory norms in order to increase awareness and usage of TT in India. It is unfortunate that the use of airbags in cars is not mandatory in our country. Over 70 per cent of cars in India do not have a single airbag. Less than 10 per cent women use sanitary pads despite being the second largest in world population. Our fire-fighters still use conventional uniforms made from poly/cotton fabrics with no special treatments. Another important aspect is the availability of raw material. Globally, when you look at companies like DuPont, 3M, Milliken, they have set up from raw material to the end-product. Companies should explore the possibilities of backward integration. The country is marching to produce helicopters and aircraft, and hence will have to produce emergency slides, parachutes and many more products in technical textiles. The same is applicable for high-speed bullet trains as well. Survival balloons are a matter of need for the country and entrepreneurs must accept the challenges to manufacture these products in India.  The government has set up 12 centres of excellence (COEs) and incubation centres and has liberally financed for the infrastructure. However, there is a need for a better pragmatic scheme to attract industry to get engaged with these COEs.
Published on: 16/10/2017

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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