Global majors finally return to Tiruppur after a long dry spell

Weave revival story as knitwear exports rise 11.6% in rupee terms

Shine Jacob Chennai
Tiruppur exports feel slowdown, war heat; demand likely to dip by 40%

Following a gap of several months, global brands like Walmart have started lifting orders from Tiruppur’s garment makers, leading to growth in knitwear exports in January after five months. Knitwear exports from Tiruppur increased 1.5 per cent in dollar terms and 11.6 per cent in rupee terms in January.
According to the Tiruppur Exporters’ Association (TEA), global majors have started placing more orders from the region.
At one point, suffering from the aftershocks of demonetisation and the implementation of the goods and services tax, the garment units in Tiruppur had fallen silent during the pandemic as high yarn prices spun trouble for them. But it’s a different picture now. They have woven a revival story - are spinning dreams and have sewn the Covid wounds.
“Walmart has started lifting orders from January. We have seen orders of about Rs 80-100 crore,” said Sivaswamy Sakthivel, executive secretary, TEA.

“We are now getting orders from all the big brands like Primark and Walmart,” said K M Subramanian, president, TEA.
In January, exports from Tiruppur increased 1.5 per cent - from $407 million in 2021-22 to $413 million in 2022-23.

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The rise in exports comes after a drop of 14.7 per cent in August, 30.7 per cent in September, 37.8 per cent in October, 6.9 per cent in November, and 12.9 per cent in December. 
The dip in exports was mainly due to waning demand from Europe and the US because of recession, inflation, and the Russia-Ukraine stand-off.

According to industry experts, the pandemic created a tale of two economies: those who were able to save, and those who struggled to make ends meet. Personal health remained a priority, while fears over finances grew. 
Purchases were largely centred on the most basic needs, shopping more consciously, buying local, and embracing digital commerce in the period under review.

In addition, volatility in cotton and yarn prices and competing countries, such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Thailand, quoting lesser prices for their garments affected demand before January.
While exports saw a 0.9 per cent increase to $6.7 billion during the first 10 months of the financial year, notwithstanding the plunge in the last five months, exports from Tiruppur went up 3.4 per cent. The region’s exports increased to $3.713 billion between April and January of 2022-23, against $3.69 billion during the same period in 2021-22.

Subramanian indicated that factories in Türkiye shutting down and a reduction in the inventory level of buyers, too, helped the region receive more orders.
Of the total knitwear exports from India, 63 per cent goes to the US (34 per cent) and Europe (29 per cent), followed by 9 per cent to the UK.

“When demand hit a lean patch, the spinning mills were caught in a tight knot, running only four/five days a week. Now, they run seven days a week. This means there is a pressing need and international entities are evincing keen interest,” added Sakthivel.
According to TEA, the Christmas season and New Year sales have pushed up exports that were seen careening downhill.

“Prices have also started to taper off with yarn prices down,” he said.
For the entire country, readymade garment exports during the month declined 3.45 per cent to $1.493 billion, compared with $1.546 billion last year.


First Published: Feb 19 2023 | 1:51 PM IST

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