Interview with Sanal Kumar

Sanal Kumar
Sanal Kumar
Chairman and Managing Director
Classic Fashion
Classic Fashion

The increased price we pay for energy can be very well offset by the duty free status the country enjoys...
Mr. Sanal Kumar discusses the textile industry of Jordan, its strengths and weaknesses in detail with Mary Christine Joy. Synopsis: Classic Fashion is one of the premier textile and apparel companies in Jordan, and has been one of the few companies in the country to achieve a spectacular turnover in a short span of time. 'Flawless perfection and consistency in quality' is the motto of the company and it is strongly built around customer satisfaction. Mr. Sanal Kumar has been leading the company right since its inception in 2003. His experience in the textile and apparel industry spans from the year 1991. He was a Chartered Accountant, and is a widely known professional in the Middle-east region. Excerpts:

You have been in the garment and textile industry since long, and can probably give an exact picture of the textile industry in Jordan. What do you have to say about the textile industry in Jordan in comparison to the textile industry of other countries in Asia?

From your questionnaire, I assume you might have visited our web site, and so its content. I am a Chartered Accountant by profession and got into garment Industry in the year 1991 as a Finance Manager in one of the garment factories in Dubai. I have been working at different levels in this industry since then, till I decided to become an entrepreneur in the year 2003. I initially visited Jordan in the year 2000 to set up a Garment Factory for one of the trading houses in Abu Dhabi. The first and foremost reason for me to opt Jordan was it's Free Trade Agreement with USA. This gave a definite edge in pricing over most of the countries in the world. In an FOB of a garment, 70% goes for fabric and accessories and the balance 30% is for its making cost and profit. Since the duty on importing garments made of synthetic fiber ranges between 30 to 33% in USA, it gives a definite price advantage for products of Jordan origin. Moreover, Jordan is very much Investor friendly with ZERO red tapism and almost a corruption free country. Further, it helps investors to bring expert machine operators from all parts of the world. This helps the factories to offer best of needle works to its customers in USA. More so, the country is free of strikes, stoppage of work, etc. and this helps to meet delivery deadlines at all times.

How is the textile industry of Jordan different from the textile industry of India?

Believe my above notes will hold good for this question too.

Jordan has a vast cultural heritage when it comes to textile. Has the country remained successful in preserving its cultural heritage in its textile industry till date?

I don't think Jordan was having any textile cultural heritage, in fact I should say it didn't have. Though there were some small textile industries in the past, the real boom started only in 1996 after the country signed peace treaty with Israel; because of which it started enjoying special relations with US. This way this industry is pretty new for the country.

Classic Fashion was quite in news sometime back owing to its noncompliance issues and worker right abuses. What efforts have been made with regards to compliance in the factories of Classic Fashion in Jordan?

Classic Fashion was always a well complied factory and it is in the GOLDEN LIST published by the Ministry of Labor, since its inception of GOLDEN LIST in the year 2006. The company enjoyed its customers confidence at all times and none of its customers ever dropped Classic Fashion from their supply chain. Rather, we have grown from a mere $2 million turnover in the year 2003 to a $250 million company in this year, and majority of these sales come from its old trusted customers like Wal-mart, Hanes Brands Inc and Jones Apparel Group. Further we have succeeded in adding prestigious brands like Under Armour and NIKE in this year. None of these brands would have ever come or stayed with us, if we were or are exposed to compliance threats claimed by that NGO. We are the single largest garment exporter of Jordan, exporting 18% of country's garments export by value.

Can you give some estimate about the number of foreign workers employed in the textile industry of Jordan? Is the number pretty high?

The industry does have 55,000 workers; of this 40,000 are migrant workers and 15,000 are Jordanians.

Can you explain a bit about Jordan as a sourcing destination?

I have explained this in your questionnaire#1. To explain further, Jordan is a sourcing destination because: *It enjoys duty free access to USA and Canada, which gives a huge price advantage. *The country is investor friendly, with Zero red tapism, Zero corruption, almost no strikes, no stoppage of work, etc. *One can achieve very good needle work due to experienced and expertise workers from different part of the world. *One can give ON time deliveries, since the country is not exposed to strikes and hartals.

Power crisis and energy shortages are some of the major disadvantages of the textile industry of Jordan. Do you agree? Please explain your views.

Though there are power crises and energy shortages, but the country supplies enough and uninterrupted energy at a price. The increased price we pay for energy can be very well offset by the duty free status the country enjoys, thereby the factories in Jordan can get better price from its customers to offset the increased cost we pay for energy.

Has government support remained noteworthy in the uplifting of the textile industry of Jordan, or is there room for more improvement in that area?

As I wrote earlier, the country is very investor friendly and does support its investors in all possible ways. Being said this, any and every situation can be improved at all times and so the industrial environments in Jordan. Thank you.
Published on: 13/10/2014

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