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Indian apparel firms gear up to face COVID-19 impact

Mar '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
Several Indian apparel brands, e-commerce firms and textile bodies have geared up to face the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing measures, including ‘work from home’ option for staff, ensure proper communication related to the new coronavirus, assessing earlier revenue targets. Most industry experts feel it is too early to project or predict.

Coimbatore-based Indian Texpreneurs Federation (ITF) is taking measures to get more market information from members and share with entrepreneurs to allow them to take a call on production, its convenor Prabhu Dhamodaran told Fibre2Fashion. He feels better awareness on the trends will reduce the panic.

Buyers from Europe and the United States are either postponing or cancelling orders. Apart from that there is a working capital shortage due to liquidity issues in the market due to current crisis, Dhamodaran said.

One-time restructuring of loan accounts for the needy units to convert their working capital loans as long term loans and infusion of new working capital will help the textile units to manage the crisis. A year’s moratorium on interest and term-loan repayments is the need of the hour, he added.

According to Yogesh Kabra, founder of Surat-headquartered menswear brand XYXX, lack of correct and all-encompassing information is primarily the issue that ends up creating panic. His company is trying its best to filter and communicate scientific and authentic information to employees to ensure their safety. It is too early to project anything now, he said.

Menswear brand Cambridge is implementing a half-day work policy for employees in two batches to avoid peak-hour travel using public transport, according to its brand custodian Prashant Bhatia, who said getting right hand sanitisers and face masks is a problem. As sales at the retail outlets have already been hit, it will push the company back by at least three months and will also affect the Festive/Winter sale this year.

The sales team of Bengaluru-based Yashram Brands Unlimited (YBU) is the most affected by the pandemic with a reduction in sales, while its online business continues as before, said its founder-chief executive officer (CEO) Deepa Kumar. Employees come to work in turns and the company has started to cut back a little in purchases and expenditure.

E-commerce firm NorthMist has offered the ‘work from home’ option to employees and has sanitised its offices, according to co-founder and CEO Arijit Mazumdar. Its sales numbers have dipped significantly. Though the company’s business-to-business orders have come to a halt, its business-to-consumer orders have been increasing rapidly. It expects losses to rise.

The retail sector is at a very high risk of exposure, said Saurabh Gupta, director, Mustard Clothing Company, New Delhi, which has offered ‘work from home’ option to its employees.

Styched CEO Soumajit Bhowmik said his company is relatively less affected as most of the materials or components in its set-up are sourced within India or made in-house. There was a nearly 35 per cent drop in conversion rate last week from the company’s e-commerce site and app, he said, as the pandemic has thrown up challenges in shipping, raising delivery time.

As orders have dropped by only 5 per cent, Styched does not expect more than ₹10 lakh loss over two months.

Filatex India continues working at full capacity, but requests for cancellation or delay in shipments from foreign buyers will definitely hit the company, said its chairman and managing director Madhu Sudhan Bhageria. Outsiders are not being allowed inside the plants, people are being screened and thermal check-ups are being conducted.

The company has supplies for the next month, but if the crisis continues, then production would be affected, he added.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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