RmKV, the 99-year-old silk saree manufacturer, is expanding its presence in Tamil Nadu with plans to build a ₹100-crore showroom in Coimbatore. It recently opened a new ₹30-crore showroom in Tirunelveli, said K Sivakumar, Managing Director, RmKV.

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In Coimbatore, it has a presence in a large mall but will open a 60,000 sq ft showroom in the high streets. The land has been purchased and the showroom should come up next year, he told businessline. RmKV has three showrooms in Chennai, two in Tirunelveli - the hometown of the RmKV founders; one in Coimbatore (in a mall) and one in Bengaluru, he added.

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Sivakumar says after the Covid pandemic, business is limping back to normalcy. However, the concern is consumers spending on silk sarees is very conservative. Earlier, they used to spend on buying silk sarees, but now they are thinking twice due to the increasing price of sarees and the influence of Western wear.

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The prices of silk sarees have significantly increased due to raw material costs. The pre-Covid average cost per kg of silk used to be ₹2,800 per kg, but now it costs ₹5,000. The cost of both silk and silver prices has increased. This, coupled with increased charges for dyeing, stitching and weaving, has jacked up the price of a low-budget silk saree to around ₹4,000 from around ₹3,000 during pre-Covid, he said. High labour cost is a major issue being faced by the industry, he said.

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While the fourth generation is now in the family-run silk business, in the weaving community, the next generation is unwilling to join the hereditary work as other greener pastures are of attraction to them, he said.

While the volumes have dropped, it was offset by the higher price of sarees. “However, we are positive and able to make up as prices have gone up. We need to create a lot of awareness on silk sarees in various forums,” he said.

Usually, RmKV introduces new designs just before Diwali. However, due to the trend this year, it was done in April to promote expensive sarees; create awareness on the eco-friendly sarees made of natural dyes, he said.