The volume of export of specialised fabrics from Tiruchengodu would be in the order of around 50 containers per month.

G Gurumurthy

Coimbatore, Jan. 24

THE powerloom weaving centres of Tiruchengodu and Namakkal and the match factory town of Sivakasi in southern Tamil Nadu are emerging strong players in industrial and home textiles.

The entrepreneurs in these weaving centres are quick to understand the business dynamics opening up in the newer areas of textiles applications in the quota free textile regime, said Mr Raj Natarajan, President of the US-based textile buying house, Indus Textiles Inc of Westchester.

A sizeable amount of new modern weaving capacities have come up in recent years with a new breed of entrepreneurs turning to producing industrial fabrics and home textiles as specified by the global sourcing companies. Much of the new production capacities were acquired by the textile mills in these places, according to Mr Natarajan, by re-installing the used looms dismantled from the closed textile mills from Europe, particularly the projectiles looms from the European textile machinery major Sulzer.

Mr Natarajan said his company identified Tiruchengodu-based powerloom cloth producing centre as a potential supplier for industrial fabric way back in 1994 by striking working arrangement with a couple of weavers and placed its first order for import of duck fabrics to be supplied to its clients in the US. Indus Textiles helped out these weavers in the area of product development, managing the inventories and finances. Having set the base, the company increased its outsourcing and from 1997 onwards it also started outsourcing specialised industrial fabrics made by Tiruchengodu weavers. The end-use of these coarser fabrics will be in such diverse industrial usage as industrial belting, wall-covering, tier-chording, besides special uses such as fire retardent fabrics and fabrics for building construction related applications. Today, the volume of export of specialised fabrics from Tiruchengodu would be in the order of around 50 containers per month.

In order to sustain the quality and timely supply of the industrial fabrics from the region's textile mills, Indus Textiles has set on a long-term working relationship with the Tiruchengodu and Namakkal-based textile producers. "Our working arrangement includes profit-sharing and joint venture (in the form of machinery supplies) with our suppliers, though their number is presently limited to two or three. This gave confidence for the suppliers too," said Mr Natarajan.

Besides the industrial and home textiles, Tiruchengodu, Namakkal and Sivakasi are poised to become major suppliers of medical textile such as surgical towels, hospital bedsheets/ flannels.

Indus Textiles, which is also outsourcing medical textiles from these centres, used to ship these goods from India to China for further processing before they were shipped to their US buyers. "But, since 2002, when China, too, entered into the WTO ambit and the US buyers wanted to develop alternative supply bases. So we have now set up the post-weaving and processing facility for the medical textiles such as the bacterial/foreign material screening (to ensure bacteria free/fluorescent free) in two places in Tiruchengodu," said Mr Natarajan.

Indus Textiles procures about two to three million metres of home textiles, industrial fabrics from Tamil Nadu and out of this 50 per cent are medical textiles.

Indus Textiles has in the processing of extending its textile outsourcing business with Tamil Nadu textile mills seen business opportunity in arranging the used weaving machines to these mills. To facilitate this, it has started a textile machinery business division in the name of Indus Textiles, BVBA at Belguim, which sold the used machines dismantled from the closed textile units in Europe.

"We would have sold some 600 Sulzer looms in Tamil Nadu," Mr Natarajan said. With bulk of the textile mills in Europe already closing down their shop and their machinery being sold away, the availability of quality used weaving machines too became scarce now in the market, he said.

Indus Textiles is also planning to set up its own textile manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, and it has plans to locate its production facility at the Perundurai SIPCOT industrial estate in Erode.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 25, 2006)
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