Interview with Aamir Akhtar

Aamir Akhtar
Aamir Akhtar
Arvind Limited
Arvind Limited

Indigo dyes are today being made in a very eco-friendly manner
India-based Arvind Limited is an integrated textile player and the flagship company of the Lalbhai Group. A $1.7 billion conglomerate, Arvind is a global leader in apparel manufacturing. It is also India’s largest denim manufacturer. At the recently concluded Gartex Texprocess India, a comprehensive tradeshow on garment & textile machinery, Shilpi Panjabi spoke to Arvind Limited CEO Aamir Akhtar about current issues like high cotton prices, sustainability and the denim industry, and support to the industry from the Indian government.

Cotton prices are currently at a record high both in domestic and international markets. How is this affecting the Indian denim industry?

High cotton prices are impacting the whole world, and not just the denim industry. It’s a generic issue and every segment of the textile value chain is trying to find a solution to mitigate this. There are multiple ways to solving this: greater use of lightweighting fabric and alternate fibres, increasing efficiencies, making the processes less complicated, etc. However, there is no single solution, and the whole industry needs to make multiple efforts to find a solution that is viable.

Indigo dyes are integral to making denims. With concerns over sustainability rising every day, do you foresee more use of eco-friendly dyes? By when can we expect all denim production to go 100 per cent eco-friendly?

Indigo dyes are today being made in a very eco-friendly manner. All the indigo dyes makers have moved to liquid indigo where it is pre-reduced, i.e., the use of chemicals is reduced during manufacturing in the plant while dyeing denims. Though indigo dyeing has already moved to a very sustainable way of dyeing, there will always be other add-ons like plant indigo.

What is the size of denim market in India? At what rate is it growing?

Keeping aside the last two pandemic years, our assessment is that India has an installed capacity of close to 1.6 billion metres. Indian market’s current production level is just under a billion metres annually and possibly 80 per cent of that that or about 800 million metres is for the domestic market, and the rest about 200 million metres is possibly for the export market, either as fabric or as garments.

What is your present denim capacity? Do you have any plans to increase the same because of increasing demand?

Our current denim capacity of ‘Arvind’ as a group is close to 120 million metres. For now, our focus is on utilising this capacity better, rather than increasing the capacity further. We have grown this capacity recently within denim as an indigo next category. Growing capacity is never our target; it is more about profitability, return on capital invested, free cash flows, and efficiencies—this is all really that matters. Therefore, capacity per say has no meaning.

What is your domestic vs export sales proportion? How do you plan to keep the same in future?

On a secular average we are about 60 per cent exports and 40 per cent is domestic sales. We believe this is the right balance to be in, and we expect to remain somewhere around the same in future too.

What are your expectations from the present government in terms of policy support for making denim industry more competitive?

What the industry needs the most is stability on cotton prices, as high prices have really hurt the industry. To make the Indian textile industry competitive, it is very important that the government and its various agencies like the Cotton Council of India act to stabilise and see that the cotton prices and the industry settle down. The volatility in prices is really hurting the industry. This is the foremost question that everyone in the industry has today.
Published on: 30/05/2022

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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