There aren’t too many businesses in which India can boast of a significant lead over China. However, home textiles is one such sector where India is in the lead, thanks to its cotton surplus position and relatively low cost of labour. With a 40% share in the US terry towel market and 48% share in the US bed sheet market, India towers over China which has a 23% share in the terry towel market and 22% of the bed sheet market. The US accounts for $7.5 billion or about 17% of the $45 billion global home textiles market.
Making the most of this significant advantage is the Ludhiana-based Trident, which has snapped up around 16% of the US market. The company, which started as a yarn manufacturer in the early 1990s, has moved up the value chain to manufacture terry towels in 1998 and bed linen in the last quarter of FY16. Over the past two years, the company has invested significantly in expanding its capacity across these two products to capture a larger share of both the international and domestic markets and is now looking to build on its position of strength.
Moving up the value chain
Trident moved into the terry towel business in 1998 by setting up a plant in Barnala, Punjab. A bitter experience with the Punjab government when it acquired land for expanding capacity in 2008 forced Trident to look beyond its home turf for its future expansion plans. In FY09, Trident set up its first facility outside of Punjab in Budhni, Madhya Pradesh to manufacture yarn. This was followed by a terry towel plant that was set up in FY15 with a capacity to produce 48,000 tonne per annum—which incidentally is the largest terry towel unit in the world, according to the company.
Trident’s new plant at Budhni is highly automated making it less labour intensive. For instance, while in Punjab the cutting still takes place manually, in Budhni, it is an automated process. And instead of following a batch process, the Budhni plant follows a continuous processing of fabric. “These automated processes save time, reduce errors, control costs and also improve quality,” says Rajinder Gupta, chairman, Trident Group.
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