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Made in Punjab towels mop up global markets

From elite hotels to top retail chains, towels made in Punjab have captured the high and middle end markets across the US, Europe and several other parts of the world.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2007 14:36 IST

If you happen to take a bath in an upscale New York hotel, chances are you will dry yourself with an exclusive towel 'Made in Punjab'.

Punjab-based towel manufacturer Abhishek Industries, with its Trident brand of towels, has not only been able to capture the high and middle end markets across the US, Europe and several other parts of the world but is now doing business with some of the best brands and retail chains in these countries.

These include top retail chains like Wal-Mart, JC Penny, Target, Sears, Guest Supply, Reebok, United Colours of Benetton and Ikea and brands like Liz Claiborne, Chris Madden and Nautica.

"Of the top 10 retailers in the US market, Trident works with nine," Trident's Terry Towel division president PK Markanday told IANS.

High-end towels from Trident - cotton bamboo, Egyptian cotton and Supima cotton - are being lapped up by top brands. The brand has an entire range - from bath, beach, kitchen, festival to luxury towels.

Guest Supply, a provider for top luxury hotels like Marriott, Inter-Continental and Holiday Inn in the US, also buys towels from Trident.

Trident ventured into the towel market only in 1998 and is now one of the top five towel manufacturers in the world.

"The idea to launch towels came in 1998. We were into yarn manufacturing and wanted to do a home textiles brand. We realised towels were a good idea as the market was expanding globally," Trident's CEO and managing director Rajinder Gupta said in his sprawling corporate office in this industrial city often called the Manchester of India.

Trident is already manufacturing 10 million towels every month and is targeting an expansion in capacity by another two million pieces by April 2008.

The company's main manufacturing plant is located in the southern Punjab town of Barnala, 200 km from here. It is setting up another plant near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

Much of the modern and latest technology for its manufacturing plant has come from Germany, Japan and Italy.

"We invest a lot in technology as well as human resource. We have 268 high-efficiency looms," said Markanday.

A Rs 15 billion group ($380 million) now, the company aims at hitting a turnover target of Rs 40 billion ($1 billion) by 2010. Much of that business will be from its towel sales alone.

Trident's marketing head Rajneesh Bhatia said that exports to the US alone were over Rs 6 billion.

"More than nine of the 10 towels being exported by us go to the best US retail chains," Bhatia said.

Top hotel chains in India, including Oberois, Taj, ITC and Inter-Continental, and retail chains like Reliance, Big Bazaar and Shoppers Stop, are also clients of Trident in India.

The company now plans to launch its own retail brand in home textiles with signature shops by March next year.

The company has interests in yarn, towels, agro-based paper, chemicals, and energy. It also plans to venture into sugar manufacturing.