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Textile exporters see order books swelling

Anil Sasi

New Delhi , Sept. 16

IT'S turning out to be a `September revolution' for textile exporters.

With the last set of quotas on global clothing trade expiring this December 31, the order book for most large exporters during the month has shot up 25-30 per cent, with foreign clients pre-booking capacities for orders that have delivery dates beyond January 1, 2005. Gearing up for the opportunity, a number of new foreign buying houses and retailers are making a beeline to the country to tie up sourcing deals. Meanwhile, existing players are aggressively ramping up capacity.

While newer retail entrants such as US-based Macys, G-Star, Sara Lee Corporation and a number of US and European buying houses have opened offices in the country, others that already have a supplier base in the country, like Wal-Mart, Target, and JC Penney, are sprucing up their presence and inking new sourcing pacts.

For instance, UK-based retailer Marks & Spencer has struck a deal with export house Maral Overseas for sourcing knitwear, while Singapore-based Crocodile International has also announced its plans to invest in the country and develop it as a sourcing base, industry players said. Wal-Mart, which already has an outsourcing centre in Bangalore, is in the process of setting up a new base in Delhi to source from units in north India and is targeting orders worth around $700 million this year as against only $300 million last year.

"There has been a huge order booking for apparels from US and UK-based clients, with several of the retailers pre-booking capacities in anticipation of an overcrowding of the existing supplier base since the restriction on volumes would be over," a leading exporter said.

Interestingly, it's not just the high-volume US retailers but also a host of high-fashion European brands that are also India-bound now. According to industry players, brands such as Diesel, Burberry's and Nicole Farhi are planning to source from Indian suppliers.

"Indian suppliers have proven their expertise at processing small orders with intricate workmanship. So a number of niche segment players are also looking to source from here," an Indian Cotton Mills Federation official said.

According to the Apparel Export Promotion Council Chairman, Mr A. Sakthivel, the Indian exporters are also gearing up for the rush by ramping up capacities. For instance, Maral Overseas has set up a new unit at Noida to supply knitwear exclusively to Marks & Spencer. JCT, which supplies to brands such as Gap, Sears and JC Penney, has added a second dyeing range for fabrics. Denim majors Arvind Mills and Ashima Textiles are also ramping up capacity for supply of fabrics.

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