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Rajendra Agarwal, Managing Director, Donear Industries

Feb 01, 2021
Rajendra Agarwal, Managing Director, Donear Industries

Donear Industries, with over four decades in the textile industry, is one of the leading manufacturers of wide range of fabrics for the purposes of suiting and shirting in India. Rajendra Agarwal, Managing Director, Donear Industries in an interview deliberates about the new markets and avenues tapped due to COVID-19, expresses his views on the soon to be announced budget and the long term growth strategies for the company.

What kind of bottlenecks did COVID-19 bring about at Donear? How do you plan to overcome them?
The pandemic has brought bottlenecks for all industries, and textile was no exception. Initially, it was a challenge during the lockdown because manufacturing was brought to a halt. But was soon resumed as per government protocol and was underway. Fortunately all product planning and meetings were viable over digital communication and everything was in place before operations resumed.

Another area that impacted us was retail being closed. We found other digital channels to enable our buyers to see product and make their orders smoothly.

I think the entire group was geared up and moved in the right direction right from the onset of the pandemic – from investing in research and being the 1st to produce anti-viral fabrics, adopting digital technology to reach out to our customers, and inter-function remote team coordination was ensued.

Moreover, we had employee engagement activities so while they were still remote working, a sense of camaraderie was present.

Has pandemic opened new markets or opportunities for the Donear Group? If yes, please share a few details?
Yes, it has and from different perspectives. From a product point of view, there has been investment in innovation with the launch of anti-viral fabrics in particular which has been faring very well for us.

Product extension also was a key contributor as we made PPE kits and masks which have been the need of the hour. Markets for product niches like anti-viral have sprung up for both customers and businesses/institutions alike.

Additionally, we have been getting enquiries for all our product ranges from the export fraternity too and they’re becoming more and more receptive to apportioning business to the Indian market. So, all in all, from a product and distribution standpoint, we are making inroads into new territories.

What are your expectations from the soon to be announced budget?
Last year, there was a renewed focus on textiles especially in the areas of MMF and technical textiles. This time, we expect a set of policies to be announced for subsidies in raw materials, ease of export policies and some leeway for upgradation of machines and technology.

What are your thoughts on ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ and the PLI scheme?
Atma Nirbhar Bahrat is a very good initiative and especially for the textile sector which dates back several centuries and has a rich heritage. Being one of the largest employment generators of the country, the textile sector has put India in the global forefront for manufacturing and export.

Also, as an Indian manufacturer, we are proud to be part of Make in India initiatives. As for the PLI scheme, we’re hoping to get some lucrative incentives – especially with the area of textile trade that has seen year on year growth. And more impetus to MMF and technical textiles this year too.

What was the demand for menswear last year and what are your expectations for 2021?
In 2020, for the menswear segment, we had a surge for anti-viral fabrics and for business formals. Towards September, the market picked up for festival and occasionwear and gifting with peaks in different geographies for different kinds of fancy products (including jacquards, prints and other designs).

For 2021, we are optimistic that the market will resume normalcy. Therefore there will be a steady flow across different product ranges, different price points, different blends, colours and designs. We have been getting orders and booking for an array of products including some classics, some designer and some fancy ranges so we are extremely hopeful that there is ample demand.

What are the new trends in menswear? What is the story behind new collections?
Being a Made in India brand, we leave no stone unturned to give you the very best, always. The story behind this was to really take the best from global runways and integrate it for Indian sensibilities. Giving the customer everything and more of what they’re looking for – be it in terms of product or price point. And for 2021, we have some fantastic colourways and designs which will enthrall you.

First, are the wardrobe essentials - the classics - in blacks, blues, greys and browns - perfect for officewear and extremely versatile. These are styles you can't do without.

Second, is all about colour - choose from bright colours like orange, yellow, purple, blues and more to add the right amount of flair to any outfit. They can be made into accent pieces like bundis, waistcoats or even sporty jackets.

Third, fancy jacquards -the beauty of this weave is that it's so elegant and has a very fine drape. Whether worn as sherwanis or as tuxedos, this dual tone makes you feel royal.

Fourth, nautical is a design philosophy everyone is talking about - bold stripes and prints which can be made into shirts or shorts or jackets or trousers.

Fifth, this year is about being neutral - softer and more delicate shades are going to be winners this time like soft blues, whites, toasted almond and so on.

And these ranges are available as part of different brands from our group and in different blends - choose from super fine cottons from Donear, rich polyviscose fabrics from GRADO by GBTL and exquisite wool blends from GRADO by OCM. As a group we are committed to give everyone what they like to wear to feel special - at whatever be their price point.

Our best seller - the anti-viral fabrics which kills the coronavirus within seconds to minutes is also part of every collection - so you can ask your nearest dealer about the NEO TECH range.

What are your plans for Grado by OCM, Grado by GBTL and Donear for this year?
This year we plan to solidify our market presence even further. The general guidelines for all brands of the group are as below – a) Quality in everything we do: To really strengthen product and design to make us beyond compare

b) Standing strength to strength with our channel partners: This is extremely important for the resurgence of the trade overall – we have stood by and will continue to stand by our channel partners

c) Meticulous production planning: Our teams work very hard to ensure that production efficiency is maintained at an all-time high and seamless workflow across departments to produce fine fabrics.

d) Intelligent advertising: We have been known for disruptive advertising – be it our anti-viral commercial on Ramayana and Mahabharata or sponsoring larger than life events and contests. This year too, we will invest smartly in media which will help us build awareness and become the point of consideration.

What are the long-term targets set for OCM, GBTL and Donear?
Our intention and what we are consistently working towards is to be a Group that the customer of any age turns to for their requirements. So, be it a school child who’s getting his uniform, a college student for a blazer, a graduate for their interview, a businessman, senior management and for CXOs and industrialists. We really want to be their first point of consideration and rightfully so, our product range represents just that. It’s available for every price point and for every occasion or milestone – especially for festivals and marriages. We really pride ourselves on this. And that is the long-term target for the Group – to become a brand that people associate with for their milestones they achieve and therefore really entrenched in their lives.