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Talking Point | August 2017

Ken exports grey fabrics to over 15 countries

“Being based in Ichalkaranji has a lot of advantages and also some challenges. The availability of the latest state-of-the-art weaving machines, warping and sizing facilities, etc. augur well for large scale outsourcing. The biggest challenge though is that the present work culture and ethic, which is very mediocre and getting them to work on export based orders, faster turn-around-times gets very testing,” says Nikunj Bagdia, Managing Director, Ken Enterprises Pvt Ltd, while interacting with the ITJ Editor via email about his experience in running a company in a place that is emerging as a key textile town in Maharashtra.

Excerpts...

Please give us some background information on Ken Enterprises -- its inception, growth and present-day status.

Ken Enterprises Private Limited is a second generation family-owned textile business that originally started in Ichalkaranji in the year 1976 as a partnership firm. After undergoing many transformations, it morphed into its current structure about 10 years back. The company started off with manufacturing and selling of dhotis, then moved on to branded low-cost school uniforms and related fabrics in 1980s and after numerous technological upgradations, it established its present state-of-the-art airjet weaving facility in Ichalkaranji in the end-2013. Thereafter there has been no stopping and within a short span to two years it bagged the Texprocil Gold Plaque for highest grey fabric exports from India (Category I). Along with 50 per cent exports to over 15 countries, the company also caters to big corporates like Raymonds, Arvind Mills, Shahi Exports, Birla Century and others.

What are the main products of Ken Enterprises? How competitive your products are compared to other producers of such products?

Ken is a solution provider for grey fabrics and does not make a single product. We have a portfolio of over 600 sorts in cotton, polyester, rayon, modal and various blends in plains as well as structured fabrics. We work as a part of the customers supply chain and make as many products as commercially viable around the customer’s requirements. The fabric price has an element of quality, timely delivery and service built into it and we are very competitive in the same which has resulted in the company achieving a monthly production of over three million metres.

Please let us know the latest developments of Ken Enterprises? Any expansion or diversification?

We have only recently set up a product development division where we have dedicated resources only for product development and samplings. This has resulted in a lot of new products and samplings taking place leading to new customer and product additions as well as. This augurs well for the growth of the company. The company is planning to integrate backwards into state-of-the-art specialised warping and sizing facility catering to various fibre blends and very fine counts like Ne 80s to 140s. There is also an associate retail venture of high-end yogawear under the brand name of ‘RRAVE’ which has just been launched. We are evaluating further investments into downstream value chain of processed fabrics and garmenting.

Is Ken Enterprises exporting? Which are the countries and products?

Ken started its export business in 2014 and is at the moment exporting to over 15 countries worldwide including Bangladesh, USA, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Korea, China, Mongolia and others. The major product is cotton-based grey fabrics in widths up to 120-inch for bed linen, ladies wear, children wear and some technical fabrics for coating and abrasive applications. We have recently also started exporting rayon, rayon blended and linen blended fabrics for fashion wear. Ken is also a nominated grey fabric vendor for H&M, Bangladesh.

What are your plans for the future in this market?

Going forward, we have to build our business and processes more and more around the customers’ needs and become an integral part of their supply chain. Technology, processes and sustainability will be the key factors around which the future businesses will be built.

Give us some information of the company’s venture into technical textiles.

The company is into basic technical textiles as it is making the base cotton fabrics for coating applications, abrasives, wall coverings, shoe canvas, etc. However, three years back the company imported India’s first full leno weaving machines from Dornier with a view to enter the high-end technical textiles business for full leno woven fabrics. Due to limited success in the venture, the same was discontinued and renewed focus was on developing the export markets for its existing products.

Please share with us some of the activities of the R&D and also the various activities happening at your various production sites.

Ken is always open to new product development as well as production challenges and has dedicated resources for the same. With a much diversified customer base, the company daily comes across various products that need adaption to different applications as well as to current production facilities. With its team of qualified engineers in marketing as well as production, every requirement is looked at in complete technical detail and the necessary actions taken, at times with help from various research institutes like DKTE, Sasmira and others. The strength of the company is its qualified technical team always ready to take up technical challenges.

Share with us your experience in running a company in a place that is emerging as a key textile town in Maharashtra.

Being based in Ichalkaranji has a lot of advantages and also some challenges. The biggest advantage is the already well-established eco-system whereby the outsourcing of various non-core activities is very easy and basic skill set is readily available. The availability of the latest state-of-the-art weaving machines, warping and sizing facilities, etc. augur well for large scale outsourcing. The biggest challenge though is that the present work culture and ethic, which is very mediocre and getting them to work on export based orders, faster turn-around-times gets very testing. However, with continuous working, vendor development and trainings we have largely been able to change the mindset.

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