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Tirupur knitters eye $2-bn PPE opportunity

Apr 28, 2020
Tirupur knitters eye $2-bn PPE opportunity

South India’s cotton knitted garments capital, Tirupur, is struggling to step up production as demand for personal protective equipment such as masks and bodysuits has thrown up a $2 billion business opportunity. About 200 units in this in Tamil Nadu town currently make personal protective equipment (PPE), mostly to serve needs within India. Industry body Tirupur Exporters Association has been pushing local manufacturers to improvise on products to meet global standards, the report said.

“As of now, we are only supplying within India but once we get the technology and the export market opens up, there is a vast potential to scale up,” the exporters association general secretary TR Vijaya Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the report said, the magnitude of the coronavirus outbreak in the US and Europe and its impact on the economies have left the exporters here worried, as those are their biggest markets. “We are yet to receive payment for many of our previous shipments,” Kumar said.

The garment cluster manufactures textiles worth Rs 60,000 crore per year for exports and domestic markets. The knitwear industry here has provided jobs to about 8 lakh people (800,000), half of whom are migrants. Local executives said they were managing their units with just about three lakh people now, as the rest have gone home when the lockdown was clamped.

“We started manufacturing PPE in December, but ever since the Covid-19 outbreak in India, we shifted our entire focus on stepping up production of PPEs,” Honeywell Creation founder S Ravichandran said. “As of now we manufacture masks and bodysuits, but in about 15-20 days we will be looking at manufacturing PPE kits that will include goggles, gloves and so on.”

His unit can manufacture 2 lakh masks a day and once it receives the go-ahead for the kits, it has the capacity to produce around 10,000 kits per day, he added.