‘Be Indian, Buy Indian’ will help revive local consumption: Gautam Singhania

“I strongly believe in Be Indian and Buy Indian, and I think each one should make a conscious decision to buy products made in our country,” said Gautam Hari Singhania, Chairman and Managing Director, Raymond Limited, Indias largest textile and apparel brand.

In an interview with IANS, Singhania said India is a very large economy with 1.3 billion people. “While the world looks at us as a market, I think we should look within for our products which are best in the world,” he added.

“I believe, Be Indian Buy Indian will help revive local consumption,” he said. “We need to come up with something more suitable for our country that will empower us to give the much needed boost to our economy.

“For instance, it is imperative for India to continue to host IPL matches on its soil to give fillip to economy and sentiments of people of India as we are coming out of the impact of the pandemic. India can certainly handle such a high-profile sporting event, if UAE can,” Singhania said.

On the impact of Covid 19, he said, “Given the discretionary nature of the Textile and Apparel industry, the pandemic has affected us. With the lockdown, all factories were shut and demand came to a standstill. In this backdrop, the Indian textiles industry accounting for roughly 14 per cent of the total industrial output and a key contributor to the economic activity has also been adversely impacted.”

Raymond is challenging costs restructuring operations to mitigate the impact. “At Raymond, we are challenging all costs and have also implemented restructuring to ensure efficiencies.

“In line with the prevailing market conditions, the company has undertaken the process of cost rationalisation and various cost control measures related to sales and marketing, manpower, rentals and others to minimise the impact on business due to the pandemic,” Singhania said.

Singhania said textile as an industry cannot move totally towards digital. “While some products have moved towards digital, I don’t think textile as a category can move totally towards digital. I think today digital for the textile industry will be less than 1 per cent and I’m sure as things open up of which we are seeing greens shoots, customers will come back to the store very quickly,” Singhania said.

“Having said that, at Raymond we have accelerated our pace of digital adoption and will be moving our channel and trade partners extensively onto digital platforms for trade bookings and other related activities,” Singhania said on the digital strategy.

Stronger brands are expected to do better. “We have always seen that, the stronger brand gets much stronger and the weaker one goes wayside. I always look at this as an opportunity.

In our endeavour to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Raymond has launched an exhaustive range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) offerings. I am sure Raymond will come out much stronger by end of this,” he added.

“As demand is reviving, we are witnessing the consumer having a clear preference for stronger known brands such as Raymond. Earlier when a consumer bought three shirts, he experimented with three brands.

However, now when he buys one shirt he wants to go for a stronger brand because of the assured quality and I think that is a real opportunity for Raymond,” Singhania said.

Here are the excerpts:

Q: What has been the impact of Covid 19 pandemic on the textile and apparel industry in India?

A: Given the discretionary nature of the Textile and Apparel industry, the pandemic has affected us. With the lockdown, all factories were shut and demand came to a standstill. In this backdrop, the Indian textiles industry accounting for roughly 14 per cent of the total industrial output and a key contributor to the economic activity has also been adversely impacted from the uncertainties of global demand as well as subdued domestic demand. However, barring the intermittent black swan event like Covid pandemic, we are equally hopeful for bouncing back to growth as soon as the pandemic curve witnesses an arrest in the near future.

Q: What is the strategy that Raymond has adopted to face this situation?

A: At Raymond, we are challenging all costs and have also implemented restructuring to ensure efficiencies. In line with the prevailing market conditions, the company has undertaken the process of cost rationalisation and various cost control measures related to sales and marketing, manpower, rentals and others to minimise the impact on business due to the pandemic.

Q: What is your take on the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign?

A: I strongly believe in Be Indian and Buy Indian, and I think each one should make a conscious decision to buy products made in our country. India is a very large economy with 1.3 billion people. Whilst the world looks at us as a market, I think we look inside for our products which are best amongst the world. I am sure we can get out of pandemic together stronger. Strong initiatives being taken by Central Government and the confidence building driven by Prime Minister’s “Atmanirbhar” policy initiatives continue to ignite hope for an earlier than envisaged revival of our economy.

Q: What does it mean for brands like Raymond?

A: We have always seen that, the stronger brand gets much stronger and the weaker one goes wayside. I always look at this as an opportunity. In our endeavour to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, Raymond has launched an exhaustive range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) offerings.

We are using our garmenting facilities in Bengaluru to manufacture PPE products (including masks and suits) which are currently being supplied to government, hospitals and other institutions. I am sure Raymond will come out much stronger by end of this.

Q: Shoppers are still wary of visiting retail stores. There is a shift towards digital, is apparel becoming part of the trend?

A: While some products have moved towards digital, I don’t think textile as a category can move totally towards digital. I think today digital for the textile industry will be less than 1 per cent and I’m sure as things open up of which we are seeing greens shoots, customers will come back to the store very quickly. Having said that, at Raymond we have accelerated our pace of digital adoption and will be moving our channel and trade partners extensively onto digital platforms for trade bookings and other related activities.

Our new digital infrastructure and omni-channel capabilities give us the competitive advantage to have a unified view of our inventory and will service our consumers across the length and breadth of the country. As the fashion industry is going ‘Phygital’, Raymond is committed to create delightful consumer experiences both in the online and offline world.

As Indian economy is gradually opening up we have started re-opening our stores and 1000+ Raymond stores are now open for business. It’s also heartening to see that our loyal consumers are waiting for our shops to resume business.

Q: What are your expectations from the festival and wedding season?

A: By end of September, things should pick up and I am very bullish on the same. With the onset of the Pooja season in the East and we are hopeful the demand will come in from there and I am sure we will see the benefits of the same.

Q: How will the fashion industry reorient itself to the changed dynamics post Covid and how is Raymond participating in the rejig?

A: The market is changing and the world is changing and I am sure, water will find its own level. Having said that Raymond has launched an exhaustive range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) offerings. We are using our garmenting facilities in Bengaluru to manufacture PPE products (including masks and suits) which are currently being supplied to government, hospitals and other institutions. Additionally, our FMCG business was quick to respond and launched a slew of personal hygiene products as well as skin friendly hand sanitizers and cleansers as a part of Raymond Care initiative.

Q: Raymond is advocating Be Indian, Buy India. What does that translate into for consumers?

A: I believe, Be Indian Buy Indian will help revive local consumption. Governments across the world are coming up with innovative measures to revive consumption, for instance, if you consider in UK, the government was paying for a percentage of people who went out to restaurants.

It was their way to kick-start their economy. We need to come up with something more suitable for our country that will empower us to give the much needed boost to our economy. For instance, it is imperative for India to continue to host IPL matches on its soil to give fillip to economy and sentiments of people of India as we are coming out of the impact of the pandemic. India can certainly handle such a high-profile sporting event, if UAE can.

Q: How will it boost employment and manufacturing?

A: The government needs to proactively assess the situation and eliminate the bottlenecks in manufacturing. India has a massive employable workforce and there is a dire need for self-sufficiency in various industries to bring down trade deficit. In our economy like India needs a robust manufacturing sector. The need for creating a robust manufacturing sector is critical.

India must create one million jobs per month to capitalise on the demographic divide and manufacturing is the only activity that can provide livelihood opportunities to a huge chunk of the population outside of agriculture.

Q: What are the changing consumer preferences seen during Covid-19?

A: As demand is reviving, we are witnessing the consumer having a clear preference for stronger known brands such as Raymond. Earlier when a consumer bought three shirts, he experimented with three brands. However, now when he buys one shirt he wants to go for a stronger brand because of the assured quality and I think that is a real opportunity for Raymond. There is an enhanced need for hygiene and greater adoption of digital interplay during the sales cycle.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More