Eastman Exports intends to completely switch to renewable energy for its consumption
Eastman Exports is an apparel manufacturer in India. The company is at the forefront of design, innovation and full-scale production specialising in producing knitwear, high-end apparel and accessories of the highest quality to high-end global fashion brands and boutiques across the globe. N Chandran, Chairman, Eastman Exports, in this discussion with Divya Shetty, highlights the evolution of apparel industry over the years and company’s future plans.
How has the apparel industry changed in the last few years?
The industry is dynamic and consumer preferences keep changing frequently. However, I would broadly attribute the change to the boom in e-commerce, increased customer focus on sustainability, higher spending limits, personalisation, and the industry’s inclusiveness to cater to a broader audience among others.
Which of the product category manufactures by Eastman Exports is in the highest demand today?
Predominantly, Eastman Exports is into mid to high-fashion apparel manufacturing. Eastman manufactures products across age groups, about 50 per cent of the revenue comes from men’s clothing while women and kids account for the remaining 50 per cent. We are witnessing a demand across the categories and gender-mix.
What kinds of challenges apparel manufacturers are currently facing in India? Is rising raw material cost (cotton as well as MMF) a cause of concern?
Shortage of raw materials, their fluctuating prices, some infrastructure bottlenecks are some of the issues that apparel manufacturers face, but these problems are commonplace. However, foresight, constant research and development, upskilling the workforce, investment in modern infrastructure and a shift towards renewable sources of energy can fix most issues.
Is the company involved in any sustainable practice? Cite with some examples.
We at Eastman Exports are all for sustainability. In fact, our driving principle is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I am happy to say that ours was one of the first companies in the country to take to Zero Liquid Discharge, much before other textile companies in Tiruppur, the knitwear capital of India, implemented it.
Today, our company recycles more than 90 per cent water in dyeing facility with ZLD, and 70 per cent water across all its facilities. Eastman’s policies and strategies are perfectly aligned to make the company water positive by 2030.
Eastman Exports is also a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which created the HIGG index tool (the universal tool for measuring the apparel industry’s performance), thanks to its focus on innovative and efficient processes such as minimal GHG emission and reduced water and chemical usage.
We intend to completely switch over to renewable energy for our consumption. We are also in talks with IEX for our energy needs.
Which is the new area of opportunities the company is focusing at present?
The trust that we have built with our clients over the last four decades has helped us grow constantly. We are now in the process of setting up offices overseas. Last year we opened an office in New York, USA. Subsequently, we are also contemplating setting up offices in Europe and West Asia to capture most of the growth opportunities which are expected to come after signing FTAs by the Government of India. We are also focusing on improving our revenue share from women’s category by developing/hiring relevant infra and people. To support these endeavours, we may have to invest to strengthen our backward integration capabilities.
Innovation and product development are key for success in apparel. How does Eastman Exports take care of these two aspects?
Eastman Exports boasts of having the DSIR-approved research centre for knitwear industry and consistently filing patents with IPR India. Vertical integration of manufacturing process enable us to customise products as per the client’s specifications with reliable quality assurance in a cost-effective manner. At the same time, we are able to develop innovative products while controlling quality, costs and timely delivery of production. Our team is a brilliant mix of the best in technology, design, and manufacturing. Our R&D centres and in-house labs are fully equipped with the latest testing equipment.
What are your long- and short-term growth plans?
In a long run, Eastman has an ambition to become one of the best run apparel manufacturing companies in the world, be it in terms of cost, technology, talent or infra. In a short run, we will focus on leaning cost structure and capturing growth from under penetrated regions/countries like UK, Europe, Australia and MENA.
What is the present production capacity of the company, and how do you aim to expand it over the next five years?
We are vertically integrated manufacturer with presence in yarn, fabric processing and garment manufacturing. These operations are spread across 35 factories within Tamil Nadu. Our apparel factories are capable of producing over 8 million garments per month. Since we are growth-oriented company, we will expand our capacities as when require to meet our long-term targets.