Media Report: APPARELCONNECT 2019


Organised by Surecom Media, APPARELCONNECT 2019Apparel Logistics Conference was convened at Shangri- La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi on May 16, 2019. This year’s edition was endowed with participation by more than 200 apparel and logistics professionals from around the country and abroad. Five intriguing panel discussions were held in the conference which touched each and every aspect of India’s Apparel supply chain.

Ajeet Kumar, Surecom Media’s Director, provided the opening remarks and noted the organisation’s commitment to delivering first-rate logistics conferences from their CONNECT series of conferences, to the entire industry. The conference formally commenced with the lighting of lamp by dignitaries- N Sivasailam, Special secretary- Logistics, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India; Dr Anil Chinnabhandar, Senior Vice President- Retail Planning and Supply Chain, Landmark Group; Vijay Kumar, Head- Logistics, ITC Limited; and Smiti Suri, Publisher- Surecom Media.

N Sivasailam, Special Secretary- Logistics, addressed the conference in the Inaugural session. He informed that India is now a member of TIR- a convention and protocol for road transport, which was signed in January 2019. It is now possible for Indian trucks to go to Europe via land route. He said that the Multimodal Act is being recasted and that it is entirely based on the industry’s suggestions. He added that logistics is a key issue as far as apparels are concerned, and that the apparel industry is important because it addresses the core requirement of logistics to provide access.

The 1st panel discussion of the conference titled ‘Transformation: Supplier-Buyer Connect’ covered the topics – What are the evolving models for the long term and more sustainable businesses? Are fashion brands, apparel suppliers and textile manufacturers ready for more meaningful relationships? What is the future for the traditional buyer-seller equations? And, how can the trade service be made accessible so that goods reach safer and faster? The panel saw eminent speakers- Sanjay K Jain, Managing Director, TT Ltd; Vijay Kumar, Head- Logistics, ITC Limited; Dr Roopak Vasishtha, CEO & DG, Apparel Made-Ups & Home Furnishing Sector Skill Council; and Dr M G Thamizh Valavan, Commissioner (Investigation- Customs), Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.

Sanjay K Jain said that associations are the bridge between the government and industry. “In the apparel sector, 80 per cent of our exporters are MSME, which means less than 10 cr of turnover. The MSMEs don’t have a website to land up and search for the required information; moreover the circulars are extensive without any highlight on the most crucial information and aspects, therefore they don’t understand or miss out on the relevant content,” informed Jain. Advocating on behalf of the industry, Jain urged the Indian government to consider the creation of a website wherein every association can be enrolled and registered. Whenever any circular notice is being published, an e-mailer can direct everyone to the relevant information apart from the direct link available on the website, making everyone cognizant of the latest information and updates on the apparel sector. This would serve the purpose of information dissemination among the industry on all important aspects of performance, sales, revenues, taxes and trade analytics in the apparel industry.”

In the 2nd panel discussion, Rajiv Pande, President, PERF- By Rahman Group; Arvind Oberoi, General Manager- Sourcing and Merchandising, Impulse; M Srinivasan, Vice President – Planning & Supply Chain, V-Mart Retail; Sudhir Gupta, Head- Buying and Merchandising, Sourcing & Retail Planning, ITC Ltd; Dr Anil Chinnabhandar, Senior Vice President- Retail Planning & Supply Chain, Landmark Group; and Sheetal Kapoor, Joint Managing Director, SHR Lifestyles, deliberated on the subject ‘Asia – From a sourcing hub to a fashion destination’. Many new details came to limelight including- How exporters would be able to overcome issues like time gap and how would retailers develop their vendors in this ever expanding market.’

Anil Chinnabhandar informed that International retailers coming to India would open more new opportunities for the Indian market. Chinnabhandar said, “We are exploiting the opportunities of international retailers coming to India and trying to share their design and business strategies which would actually help build further efficiency, competency and excitement for retailers. We are able to introduce international designs, international fashion in Tier II, III and IV segments which is ultimately
going to create huge opportunity for the younger generation. International merchants along with trying to sell a lot of their merchandise are incorporating a lot of Indian design elements into their overall merchandising and so on. Indian ethnic prints are getting into western styling. Today, most international retailer wants to include the ethnic wear concept of India.”

The post lunch session kicked off with the 3rd panel discussion on ‘How supply chain is getting reconfigured post GST for the Textile/Garment Industry’. Industry leaders who took to the stage were Sunil Arora, Vice President, The Air Cargo Agents Association of India (ACAAI); Ratnesh Singh, Retail Head, Perfect Lifestyles; T K Sen Gupta, President, The Textile Association (India); and Varija Bajaj, Founder, Varija Lifestyles. The value-adding points that emerged during the discussion were- digital commerce accelerated the retail business, demand driven industry offers customers a low price range, GST has been helpful for the overall sector bringing down the overall tax burden, etc.

During the session, T K Sen Gupta proved quite vocal, informing that the export scenario for garment in India has fallen since May 2017 to 13.5 per cent monthly. The overall production from May – Dec 2018 has been 10.4 per cent. “Bangladesh is now on 2nd position following China in exporting garments and India has fallen to the 5th position. Bangladesh is very much committed to their apparel business since 80 per cent of the country’s total economy is dependent on textile. The productivity of their workers is also double than that of Indian workers,” stated Sen Gupta.

The 4th panel discussion of the conference ‘Key trends that are impacting the Apparel Logistics market’ brought on stage Komal Gangaramani, Sr Logistics Analyst– Origin Planning & Operations, Gap Inc, Global Supply Chain; Deepa Sureka, Managing Director, Taanz Fashions; A K Jain, GM- Commercial, Orient Craft; Pankaj Singh, Director, Shopzo Brand; Dinakar Malladi, Vice President- Corporate Affairs, Kerry Indev Logistics; and Keku Bomi Gazder, Chief Executive Officer, AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company Limited. The panel briefed on the bottlenecks and opportunities in the current system and on the evolving technological landscape such as the rapidly growing adoption of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in the apparel industry.

Komal Gangaramani said that RFID can add to a very good personalised customer experience. “The chip inside a garment helps the customer to find the different colours and sizes that are available not just on one location but on multiple locations as well. With that, customer’s overall time is going to be saved. Apart from this, RFID is also owing to the need for better tracking of goods,” added Gangramani.

The 5th and the last panel discussion witnessed professionals and specialists from the field- Sunil Arora, Vice President, The Air Cargo Agents Association of India (ACAAI); Bhanu Dora, General Manager, Pearl Global industries; Animesh Saxena, Managing Director, Neetee Clothing; and Prashant Batra, Retail Head, Taanz Fashions, sharing their knowledge and expertise on the topic ‘Mastering Apparel supply chains’. The panel stressed on the vital role that technology plays in the sector, and that positioning the right infrastructure has been a challenge and therefore associations, freight forwarders and logistics service providers alike should be pro-active to confront the Government on the prevailing issues so as to map out logistics strategies that need to be closely aligned with a company’s manufacturing and commercial strategies.

Commenting on the crucial aspect of shipping delays impacting the metabolism of fast fashion, Bhanu Dora said that, “Although technology plays a vital role, the challenges unfold because of the lack of infrastructure, the ports don’t function, and sometimes we also need to face road and truck restrictions. Here, overcoming the manual intervention becomes the bigger picture. Speed and efficiency takes a back once we are challenged by these issues. Technology will undeniably fail if infrastructure is not up to our suit.”