The State of Business 2013

Tightly stitched

The Ambur cluster is weathering power cuts and strict pollution control norms

RA Chandroo

Vaanga (please come), Vaanga!” an encouraging pedestrian hollers our car past thickets of shops selling rice, spices, plastic pots and freshly dressed chicken. This can’t be a two-way street, surely? Oh, but it is, as an auto-rickshaw adroitly demonstrates without a pause. We arrive at the imposing gate of the Farida Shoes’ guest house several near-scrapes and two testy turns later. A study in tranquil and immaculate luxury, global clients of Ambur’s biggest company retreat to its silky rooms and state-of-the-art gym after hectic parlays and rigorous inspections of big-ticket orders. It’s this easy dichotomy that defines Ambur (pronounced ‘aa-mb-oo-r’), a deceptively unremarkable town off the NH46, 188-km and four hours out of Chennai, often better known for its mutton biryani than the 31.54% annual growth rate attributed to its leather industry over the past decade.