With a fully integrated setup from yarn to fabric to apparel, also including accessories and value addition, Ginza Industries Limited has made a niche in the market by offering close to 10,000 different products, all focusing on excellent craftsmanship and innovation. Recently, the company has entered the lingerie market, both domestic and exports, and has also launched the brand ‘SOIE’ (silk in French) for intimatewear, nightwear and women’s fashionwear, which is getting a positive response. With its integrated manufacturing setup, the company is today a frontrunner in the lingerie manufacturing sector. Speaking exclusively to Team Apparel Online, Ashok Sethia, MD, Ginza Industries Ltd. talks about the growing portfolio of the company and their venturing into a technical product such as lingerie, which is still new in India.
Not everyone can be dynamic enough to make a major jump from being an accessory manufacturer to becoming a name to reckon with in a niche product category like lingerie, but Ginza, led from the front by its MD, and supported by a brilliant team, has set an example for those who are willing to believe. Catering to mid-range department stores such as Walmart in the US, and Carrefour and Tchibo in Europe, who are their biggest customers, Ginza has 8 manufacturing units for different product profiles, spread in Surat, Ambarnath, Palghar and Daman, with headquarters in Mumbai. Interestingly, the company’s lingerie manufacturing happens in Surat, which is primarily known for textiles. “Many questions were raised when we started apparel in Surat and that too such technical products like lingerie, which was a huge challenge for us. But then we thought we have the basic raw material, financial backing and inherent strengths, so why not Surat?” claims Ashok. Through efficient training systems, the company was able to bypass initial troubles of finding trained labour in Surat.
For lingerie alone, the company has 3 units dedicated to exports and retail, which is a huge step from a company that was initially known for laces. “As we were doing laces, it was a natural progression for us in our quest to expand. We started expanding both ways – backward and forward integration. We had ready customers for lingerie, who we had been supplying some or the other product category such as fabrics, elastics, laces, etc. We took the plunge for manufacturing lingerie in 2005, initially for exports, and only 2 years back we entered the domestic market,” reveals Ashok. Though it has been 10 years since the company started manufacturing lingerie, the economic downturn proved a setback for its operations. Nonetheless, the company came back with full force in 2012. “From 2012 onwards things started moving upwards for us. This year we increased our exports by 70 per cent and domestic by 50 per cent compared to the previous year. We have recently launched nightwear also,” he adds.
Currently, the company is doing exports of around Rs. 57-58 crore, while for the Indian market for both lingerie and apparel combined, it is Rs. 15 crore. The company exports 85 per cent to Europe and rest to the USA. Venturing into a technical product such as lingerie, where India still lacks expertise, the company hired experts from Sri Lanka and Philippines who are well aware about the technical know-how. Apart from global technical inputs and latest technology, the company benefits hugely from its backward integration. “That’s where we score! Almost everything that is used is manufactured in-house such as fabrics, laces, elastics and eye-hooks. If we were buying so many things from suppliers, it would have been difficult to get the right shape and matching approvals. As it is internal, we have more quality controls, and by this way, we are able to grow our export business,” reasons Ashok. Being the largest integrated exporter of lingerie, the company has a facility for training in-house for such a niche product and believes that Indian products can compete in the international market. “We know our strengths! We can very well compete globally; it’s all about mindset, management skills, infrastructure and the way you want to move ahead,” he maintains.
The product range at Ginza is very wide and includes raschel, warp knitted fabrics and laces; the company is also the largest supplier of cotton torchon laces, woven and knitted elastics, embroidery laces and fabrics, textured and twisted yarns, eye & hook, circular knitted fabrics, etc. The company shuns industry’s claim that raw material for lingerie is not available in India, whereas 90 per cent of what the company manufactures is easily available in India, provided you have the right source. Apart from lingerie, the company also caters to swimwear for exports, which is another specialized product requiring sound technical knowledge in terms of fabric. In addition, the pro-active company has bought the licenses for Superman, Batman and Wonderwoman from Warner Brothers for its intimatewear, which will be launched in India in May. “As our factories are approved by Disney and Warner Brothers, we are already doing a lot of products for their collections and the same is being supplied to Carrefour, Tchibo and Disney; so in a way we thought why not for the Indian market also,” says Ashok.
Each diverse unit at Ginza is considered a profit centre and is being managed by professionals, and Ashok is open in his appreciation of the team which has aided the growth of the company. Far from the earlier Indian mindset of being uncertain about giving authority and responsibility to others, the company has developed a corporate culture, with an ERP and efficient tracking system which enables the smooth functioning within the company. “At Ginza everything is delegated. I have well-qualified professionals taking care of the daily work and the system works perfectly; if I start interfering, the whole system will be disturbed,” declares Ashok. Also focusing on sustainability, the company has compliant setups which are a necessity when working with international brands.
Having a vast product offering, the company does not rely only on one product category to grow, which also helps Ginza to be financially stable. Even with the current European market scenario and currency crisis, the company is positive about the future. “The currency crisis will settle down! Increasingly, China is getting expensive day-by-day and other places are so small that over a period of time they are going to be saturated. This is what happened to Sri Lanka, the same is the case with Bangladesh. It is getting expensive and their quality standards are also not good. Ultimately, over the next 5 years it is going to be India’s time, as the country would be a natural choice for a lot of buyers. It is already happening…, buyers who were previously in China are coming to us,” asserts Ashok.
An assembly line of 315 machines for apparel and lingerie, supported by a product development team comprising of 20 people, for lingerie and 15 for apparel. For greater visibility of its brand SOIE, the company is spending a lot in on-line and off-line promotional activities and going forward will focus on retail and creating a bigger and better brand for the domestic market. The brand also sells through its own e-com portal www.soie.in, other than tie-ups with e-giants like Myntra, Flipkart and many more. “Our aim is to create a brand which we can relish. It’s not about selling a product, it’s about creating a brand name,” concludes Ashok.