Ketan Sanghvi, Partner and Director at Laxmi Textile Stores, which also manufactures looms that are nearly 100 per cent indigenous, spoke to the Editor of ITJ, in an exclusive interview
ITJ Editor: What are the advantages and disadvantages of these new looms from China?
Ketan Sanghvi: In my opinion, the only advantage is a low purchase price. However, this could turn out to be a disadvantage later in terms of non-existent or poor after-sales service and unavailability of spares. Many of the looms being offered are of outright poor quality. While all looms manufactured in China are not of poor quality, what is being imported in India and sold at extremely low price is probably of questionable quality. Also when agents sometimes abandon a brand in favour of another one, it is a huge problem for an Indian customer to communicate directly with a manufacturer in China. There have been a few cases where customers have found their "new" machines to be used or reconditioned.
ITJ Editor: Which are the segments of textile products they serve?
Ketan Sanghvi: These looms primarily serve the lower end of the decentralised sector.
ITJ Editor: How are the Indian distributors taking care of the after-sales service?
Ketan Sanghvi: Very few are offering reasonable levels of after-sales service. When they are forced to offer rock-bottom pricing due to competition, there is very little or no incentive to offer any service. Also, since most looms are of similar make or technology level, the only possible differentiator is price.
ITJ Editor: Are they your competitors? If so, how do you tackle with strategies if they erode into your companys share?
Ketan Sanghvi: They do compete in some segments and also probably do take away some market share, particularly in those segments that are extremely price sensitive. However, we have had many customers returning to us after unhappily experimenting with such looms.
ITJ Editor: What do you think are the advantages of your looms over these imported looms? Are your looms 100 per cent indigenous?
Ketan Sanghvi: Our looms are manufactured at our factory in Ahmedabad. With the exception of the dobby, all the parts are made or bought locally. Our factory at Ahmedabad also makes spares available to all our customers throughout the country. We also have a team of technicians offering after-sales assistance to our customers all over India. Our company is also ISO certified.
As a domestic manufacturer, I feel that the domestic loom manufacturing industry is in a good position to serve the needs of the market segment served by these low-cost Chinese looms. Many domestic manufacturers are now offering good quality machines at reasonable prices and since they are easily contactable, the language barrier being absent, it makes very little sense to buy such machines from outside, when equivalent machines and good after-sales support are available here. Value is a bundle of product + price + service. Of course, where advanced technology machines are not available in India, by all means import good quality machines from good manufacturers abroad. Further, I feel that the government is doing the industry a great disservice by incentivising the import of used and Chinese machines through subsidy schemes such as TUFS.
Further, the domestic weaving machinery manufacturers are working hard to upgrade their machines to the levels demanded by the industry. A little support and encouragement to the domestic loom manufacturing industry would go a long way in creating a strong support base for the domestic textile industry.