The journey of Karle International began in the 70s when India started exporting handloom/powerloom fabric to North America and Europe. Karle offered local dyed Madras plaids, which was accepted because after every wash, it started fading and went very well with denim pant. The company started garment manufacturing unit in Karnataka using pedal machine. Karle offers a range of machinery for the textile industry, including machine for cutting, stores, sewing, and finishing section. Mahendra Karle, Managing Director of Karle International, interacted with Senior Sub Editor, Karthik Muthuveeran of Indian Textile Journal, about his company’s profile and products through email.
For over 40 years, Karle International has been a leading manufacturer of woven apparel. Take us through the journey so far.
The journey began in the 70s when India started exporting handloom/powerloom fabric to North America and Europe. Clients overseas were on the lookout for sourcing fabrics (shirts) that would be an instant hit with their buyers. Incidentally, Karle offered them local dyed Madras plaids, which was accepted because after every wash, it started fading and went very well with denim pant. Since the fabric was coming from India, buyers wanted to go one step vertical and convert fabric into garments.
Karle International started garment manufacturing unit in Karnataka using pedal machine. Their first export was to some of the leading brands in France and the UK.
Industrial engineering: In the 80s, Karle International started focusing on industrial engineering (assembly line and powered machine) that resulted in higher efficiency and standardisation of quality.
Diversification and consolidation: Towards the end of 80s and early 90s, Karle International analysed the market in North America and Europe and realised that they a have short summer, springs and long fall/winters. The demand for shirts and pants dropped drastically during winters and there was a high demand for outwear. Keeping these vital factors under consideration, Karle International came up with a strategic partnership with South Koreans for producing and marketing outwear.
Karle International also focused on building automation and implementing TQMS (Total Quality Management System) in all their office and production units.
90’s – Going global: Karle international started export-oriented unit (EOU) whereby one can import raw materials from any part of the globe duty free and convert it into garments for 100 per cent export. Karle International became a global player by importing synthetic raw materials (man-made fibre) from Taiwan, Korea and China.
This move allowed the company to diversify into a wide array of products, which allowed retailers and brand to pick and choose – becoming one-stop shop, helped us greatly to a cement long term partnership.
Indian partnership: In 2000s, the then followed quota system was discontinued by all the importing countries, resulting in change in buying pattern – in turn leading retailers and brands began buying directly from Karle International, eliminating middlemen. Being a global player, the company had to deal with many countries and raw materials and hence the need to bring in ERP system was considered and SAP partnership was established.
Karle International acknowledged Bangladesh as a direct competitor and began exploration to mitigate competition and explored the possibility of setting up manufacturing units in Africa. Post due diligence, Karle International zeroed down to Ethiopia. Karle International currently operates three units in India and one in Ethiopia with around 5,000 employees and associates.
Since its inception, how has your company fared all along its growth phase and what was the turning point when it took off?
Karle International witnessed its growth phase in 90s. The turning point for the company was going went it went global.
Give us some details on the technologies and machines that Karle offer to the Indian textile industry.
- Pining table for cutting checks fabric
- Automatic laying and cutting machine
- Continuous fusing machine
- Computerised lay markers
- Fabric checking machine.
- Light box to check the color matching.
- Photo spectrometer
Thread trimming machine
Needle detector machine What differentiates your products from that of your competitors? What are its unique advantages?
- Automatic pocket welting machine.
- Automatic sleeve patti making machine.
- Collar making machine
- Cuff making machine
- Waist band attach machine
- Automatic pocket attach machine
- Blind hem machine
- Seam sealing machine
- Eton automatic conveyor system to move the parts in the assembly line
Capability to do diversified products in variety of fabric is what differentiates our products from our competitors. We are also one-stop shop for retailers and brands to buy a product of their choice for all the seasons.
Is the technology being used imported or indigenous?
The technology being used is mostly imported.
What are the various service offered by Karle International?
The service offered by Karle International are: designing to deliver in our forte, and helping retailers and brands from developing fabrics, designing garments, manufacturing and shipping to their retail outlet.
Karle follows the policy of ‘Zero Defect & Beyond’. Please let us know more about this.
This policy was followed in the 80s and 90s when the garment export industry was not as matured and was transitioning. ‘Zero Defect’ concept helped Karle to gain trust whereas ‘Beyond’ helped to sustain the long-term association. However today’s scenario these things are not relevant. The industry has totally evolved and quality is guaranteed.
What are the challenges faced in the industry that you are in?
The challenges faced in the industry is the continues pressure on cost and reduce the turnaround time.
How do you think is R&D important for Indian textile sector in the current scenario? What are Karle’s contributions in this?
R&D is must to innovate, and innovation brings in competitive edge in business. We have a very skillful and dedicated R&D team researching on fabrics, trims and how to improve continuously efficiency in all areas. Karle has been key player in helping the most of our buyers to reduce the cost of product by engineering the product to fit the cost.
What are your company’s plans for the future – expansion and diversification, if any?
Karle International is looking at further expansion in Ethiopia and other African countries and we are in the process of finalising strategic partnership with Vietnamese manufactures.