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Orbit Exports: Coming off with flying colours in novelty fabrics

As one enters the recently-opened headquarters of Orbit Exports Ltd (OEL), located very close to the Post Office at Ballard Estate at Fort in Mumbai, one cannot miss the glitter and shine of textiles that comes from the small showroom on the right-hand side of the receptionist area. It is the quintessence of what Orbit Exports stands for – weaving value from novelty fabrics.

Talk about prints, jacquards, imitation silks, metallic finishes, and furnishings, Chief Executive Officer Pankaj Seth's face lights up with a smile: “We are a company specialised in novelty fabrics. We make jacquard fabrics, brocades, etc, and use them for different purposes. One vertical is that we convert fabrics into Christmas products for the export markets in the West. We make ribbons, stockings and an entire line of Christmas products, which have a good demand.”

The story of Orbit Exports is that of a buyer heading the unit from where he has been sourcing for over a decade. Recounts Mr Seth: “Till 2004 I was buying fabrics from Orbit Exports, a vendor with a good weaving capacity for novelty fabrics. In 2004, it so happened that the unit ran into some trouble and this gave me an opportunity to become the head of the company. That was the beginning of a big growth for Orbit Exports.”

The novelty fabrics' use was extended to cover evening and party wears. Orbit Exports' specialised fabrics started finding themselves on the design board of international bridal and evening wear manufacturers like Calvin Klein, Morilee, US Angels, and David’s Bridal. Even as these unique fabrics help design houses create customised garment, they have been supplying ready-to-wear designer creations for global celebrations like Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Carnival (a huge event in South America).

Three factors distinguish Orbit Exports from other me-tto-ran novelty fabric manufacturers: A state-of-the-art digitally enhanced manufacturing unit in Surat in Gujarat; A vendor presence in 27 countries across the globe with a showroom in Bangkok, and; a varied product base catering to the high end niche sector of novelty fabrics.

Orbit Exports has grown from a negligible turnover in 2004 to about Rs 90 crore turnover today. “Exports constitute about 65% of the turnover,” says Mr Seth. “When I took over in April 2004, the topline was Rs 9 crore and the bottomline was a minus Rs 4 crore. I saw good strength in the weaving capacity of the company, and being a regular buyer from this company, I could use the opportunity and resources to turn it around,” he explains.

The turnaround for Orbit Exports came when Mr Seth decided to add value to the fabrics, by converting them into various products that a good demand in the global markets. Besides, the company’s participation in international trade events like Texworld at Paris and Christmas world in Frankfurt has resulted in the opening up of new business markets and a wider global presence.

Explains Mr Seth: “We began with the US market and later switched to other niche markets in other countries. The strategy is to do festical selling – like Christmas, East, Halloween, Valentine's and Carnivals. These sales points and seasons help a lot in boosting the sales, and making our products very popular abroad.” OEL has set up a state-of-the-art weaving plant in Surat and the jacquard/dobby designs are created digitally and directly transferred to the memory of the machines, thereby eliminating even a minor margin of error. Its manufacturing units in Jalgaon and Erandol (Maharashtra) are the very foundations for turning out fancy textiles such as metallic jacquard brocade and jacquard velvets.

Orbit Exports' forte is its designing capabilities. “We are already in touch with our clientele base abroad and are working out designs and colours for the Fall Season of 2012. We create the products as per the season and changing tastes and perspectives. There is a whole lot of research that goes into the making of the novelty products. Most of the products are highly value-added ones for the upmarkets abroad.”

Just novelty products are not all at Orbit. “We have a good share in the bridal wear market abroad. Marriage is a big occasion and bridesmaids buy as much as a bride and for them high value-added apparels are a must for the occasion.” Since buying for Christmas happens in Hong Kong and Bangkok, Orbit has a liasion office and showroom in the latter city.

Orbit Exports' Surat plant has already pumped in Rs 20 crore investments. Says Mr seth: “We have lined up another Rs 80 crore for the coming years to strengthen the Surat facilities. With fashions changing as often as possible and buyers showing enhanced interest in novelties, the market for the Orbit Exports' products is on the up and up. We have a diversified product portfolio and we will keep on expanding it to meet the growing needs of the customers.”

Orbit Exports may be reaching new heights in its hunt for bigger markets for the niche novelty fabrics, but its labour policy is down-to-earth. Says Mr Seth: “We have now a total strength of over 400 in our plants in Maharahstra and Gujarat. We keep our staff and workers very satisfied so that they can continue working without break in production schedule. For instance, we provide in Surat highly subsidised food three times a day, and workers in any shift are eligible to partake all the three meals in any day they are working.”

Last financial year, Orbit Exports' net profit went up by 134%, and Mr Seth says that the company has just scratched only the surface in the potential for novelty fabric products. Obviously, the best seasons are ahead, and Orbit exports is on the right track.

published August , 2011
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