Interview 4- Mr. Jayant Nagrare (Saurer Textile Solutions Pvt Limited)

In the fourth interview of our interview series we have Mr. Jayant Nagrare, he has worked in production, maintenance, service, now is in sales and is an active member of Textile Association of India,Vidharba unit. Let us understand textile from his perception.

1-Can you throw a light on the back-story of sales and marketing in the textile industry. 

  • Textile industry is the second largest industry in India which employs 35 mn people directly or indirectly. It contributes 2% to India GDP and 7% to Industrial Output in value and 15% to export earnings. The growth of this industry is depicted at 8.7% CAGR to reach USD 226 Bn by 2023.
  • India is 2nd largest producer and exporter of cotton in the world at USD 6.3bn.
  • Currently cotton industry support appx. 6 mn farmers and 50 mn people in related activities like trading etc.
  • Much to mention about Synthetic and other natural and niche segments like Linen, Silk etc.
  • With such a huge quantum of business and to handle it on global platform, there is need to market and coordinate between the customers and principals, not only for goods but for machinery and accessories as well. The gap on technology and trends needs to be bridged by the marketing initiatives and supported by sales activities. All my experience is in spinning industry and hence my responses will be more inclusive of spinning. 

2-What are the key skills a fresher require to work in the sales and marketing sector.

  • A fresher need to possess good communication skill and must have sound technical knowledge acquired during the course tenure and implant trainings. The primary skills like good etiquettes and social networking are also desirable. Other skills like negotiations, influencing, analysis, customer service and specific product knowledge should be polished over the years.

3-What are the different strategies revolve in the marketing and sales sector?

  • The sales strategies are mostly driven by the product and target customers. Every product needs different approach in different customer segment by size and demography. The sales is mostly the solution based approach wherein the pain areas of customer are identified and solutions are provided along with differentiating benefits.
  • Marketing in Textiles is not really as aggressive as in other products. The objective is to reach and educate the customer about the product- its features and benefits. Usually print media and personal visits are the main marketing channels. The social media and online platform is growing and will be key post COVID life.

4-According to you how can a college help students to pave their paths in marketing and sales domain, what can a college add to their curriculum which helps students as far as the marketing and sales are concerned

  • The best part of Textile industry and Textile Institutes is that they are working very closely with each other. Thus most of the institutes have identified the needs of the industry and have revised their academic syllabus accordingly and keep reviewing at regular intervals. Apart from that the Alumni Associations are becoming more active in guiding students and Extra Lectures/ Seminars are being conducted which exposes the students to latest technology/trends in industry. Handholding and regular interaction with industry will help students to be aware of latest skill requirements and accordingly groom themselves.

5-In accordance with a report, in India most of the machines are imported. Why is India lagging when it comes to the machinery sector?

  • India lacks investments in R&D and Technology Innovation. Most of the manufacturers have only production units only. However there has been huge investments in infrastructure developments in past few years. Also government is focused on Make In India, Digital India, GST and Ease of Business plans, but the pace is slower as compared globally. There is opportunity post COVID, to attract FDI on current market sentiments to become a trusted global supplier. 

6-Talking in concrete terms of machineries, where does India stand in terms of policies and selling compared to that of the global competitors. 

  • There are lot of very good Indian machinery manufacturers who have global imprint. Many foreign machinery manufacturers have shifted their base or planning to shift in near future to India. This brings lot of competition and thus investments in R&D and Innovations. However the customers are not ready to partner in cost of research allowing the manufacturer to invest further and continue the innovations. The industry should accept and appreciate the innovation by valuing and investing in this work. This will encourage the manufacturer to continue the R&D work and bring innovative solutions for benefit of the industry.  

7-How the older days marketing strategies differs from the modish strategies and how prominent role social media plays to boost the sales up. 

  • Textile industry has adapted to the new marketing strategies which are heavily present on online platforms. Social media is one of the platforms where the information is released. Apart from social media, the print media has to be essentially available on electronic media as well. But the nature of product does not allow the manufacturer to avoid the older marketing tools like magazines, leaflets, brochures along with personal visits. Thus the textile industry is keeping up pace with millennial generation by explicit use of social media along with e-platforms and at the same time low but still using conventional marketing tools.

8-Can you give us a clue what are the major considerations a buyer seeks before making purchase? 

  • In textile industry, the review and personal experience of the product and/or brand plays an important role in decision making. At the same time the proposal is weighed on techno-economic feasibility as well. The textile machines are capital intense performance products and hence proper due diligence and comparison is done to select each and every feature for its usefulness and utility. All the above point lead us to the features, advantages, benefits and differentiation of the product. After Sales Service also plays an important role. Luxury has no place here.

9-In what way will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the sales and marketing of textiles?

  • COVID-19 has brought an unprecedented catastrophe to the industry. There is huge reduction in demand from two major markets of US and EU. The retailers have announced the closures of the outlets, buyers have cancelled the orders and new orders are being renegotiated with lesser quantities. There has been a big dent in business in lockdown period, resulting in various problems from cash liquidity to labor availability, raw material prices to new orders and so on. The industry will first strive to come to normal to pre-Covid stage, which is expected to take next 2-3 qtrs or may be little  more. In this situation the mills will prefer not to invest and defer their plans of expansion and modernization. Thus machinery business is and will be the worst hit of all textile industry.   
  • But the pandemic also brings good opportunities which can be grabbed like medical textiles, technical textiles, enhance capabilities to reduce dependency on imports, explore alternate markets for textiles, ride on global sentiments to become alternate suppliers, etc. Global brands are exploring alternate options like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia and other Asian countries. India has complete supply chain and competitive cost advantages as well.

10-Research and development can indeed enhance the overall  performance, according to you in which sector R&D is specifically required for better outputs. 

  • The power and labor are the two major factors that need to be addressed to make an economical textile material. Also, the textile is one of the biggest pollutant industry in the world and thus the R&D activities needs to be focused on energy, automation and sustainability.

11-On a final note, what is the scope of machineries and in what fields India can give a cut-throat competition to the  competitors Worldwide.

  • Indian textile machinery manufacturers have already made their mark on the globe in spinning and finishing machines. But there is no Indian manufacturer in weaving machines, technical textiles and other niche segments. These areas needs to be explored by collaborations and tie-ups. We expect that post-Covid scenario may bring some good manufacturers to Indian and start manufacturing in India for global supplies. Again emphasis on innovative and technological products. Looking at the available opportunities India should emerge as a winner and a dominating player after this pandemic.
It was great interviewing Mr. Nagrare, thanks for sharing your experience with and making us see textile through your eyes.

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