Manufacturing of woollens in the industrial city of Ludhiana is witnessing a change in trend as most of the new garment units are producing trousers and shirts.
Many of the old players have also shifted to manufacturing of trousers and shirts. Ludhiana is famous for its hosiery products and also exports these goods to many European countries.
Hosiery industry had suffered losses in 2013. Later in 2014 and following year, the industry received yet another jolt when winters were delayed. In 2011 there were at least 13,000 hosiery units in Ludhiana but 1,000 units have faced a shutdown since then.
There are at least 12,000 small and major industrial units that manufacture hosiery products in Ludhiana. Each unit has different scale of production. While a small unit could manufacture 50-60 sweaters in a day, a major unit could produce 3,000-5,000 pieces a day. However, hosiery business is seasonal and manufacturing takes place from April to November. A small unit expects a profit of Rs 8-10 lakh a season while the profits of major units run in crores of rupees.
Woollen industry of the city exports at least 30% of the manufactured goods while 70% are sent across the country.
Knitwear Club chairman Vinod Thapar said there were times when the Ludhiana industry used to manufacture only hosiery products like sweater, jackets etc. “But now time is changing and people want to expand their business by manufacturing other garments as well,”said Thapar.
He added many players in Ludhiana have started manufacturing T-shirts, jeans and trousers - garments that were earlier manufactured in Delhi, Bangalore and some other cities of the country.
Thapar said the city hosiery was now producing clothes worth Rs 15,000 crore per season that had come down from Rs 15,600 crore six years ago.
There are new units that have come up only to manufacture jeans and trousers due to the downward trend in the industry.
Jagjot Singh, an owner of JM Exports unit at Salem Tabri, who started manufacturing of trousers and shirts a year ago said, there were much better returns in these garments than sweater, jacket and other hosiery products.
“Those people involved in manufacturing of hosiery products have blocked their money in the market. While wholesalers buy garments from manufacturers, the former are not able to pay the money to latter as there is a slump in market and sale of goods is slow,”said Singh adding that he has started sending his manufactured goods even to other states.
A trouser is profitable by Rs 30-40 than sweater. Moreover, a manufacturer gets fast payment of trousers from the buyer (wholesaler) than that of a sweater.
The trousers and shirts are being sent not only to cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata but also to other countries, including Dubai and South Africa.
However, there is a hope in industry and some business leaders believe that the profits would return to the hosiery industry.
Sudershan Jain of Knitwear and Apparel Manufacturers Association of Ludhiana (KAMAL) said it takes not only machines and workers to manufacture shirts and trousers, but also an entire thinking.
“If one plans to manufacture these garments, he has to change his thinking and marketing strategy as the competition in sweater and jackets will be only from Ludhiana based companies but for manufacturing of shirts, trousers and jeans, the competition will be from different cities of the country,”said Jain.