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Beyond the Bale : Jun - July 08
By Robin Taylor W ith a rapidly growing middle class and a renowned textile industry, India is proving to be a particularly receptive market for Australian Merino wool. India relies on imports for apparel wools, and most of these come from Australia. The country has become the third-largest market for Australian wool, after China and Europe, with potential for considerable expansion. Imports of Australian wool have nearly doubled over the past five years, with eight companies taking most of the wool. Sixty per cent is used for apparel. AWI, from its office in New Delhi, is working with clothing and textile manufacturers to develop a number of new wool products for the local market and export. AWI’s global development officer Jimmy Jackson says the growing middle-class market in India offers great opportunities for domestic consumption. “India has the fastest growing retail sector in the world, with an increase of 60 per cent in retail floor space this year,” Mr Jackson says. “Another indicator of growth is the increasing number of foreign and domestic brands, appearing on the market and the availability of consumer credit facilities. “Consumers’ attitudes have changed tremendously from ‘save and save’ to ‘spend and spend’.” He says that, unlike China, Japan and the Western economies, the median age in India is relatively low, 24. The International Wool Secretariat has been present in India since 1954 and AWI opened its office in late 2006. Now, both offices are being integrated. Up to now, AWI has focused on India’s domestic market, working with leading brands and manufacturers. “Going forward, we will increase our efforts and resources both for domestic and export business,” Mr Jackson says. AWI’s regional business development manager in India Debabrata Chakraborty says that AWI is working with key manufacturers and retailers in the country to introduce innovative Merino products to the knitwear and woven- apparel market. “Our aim is to create additional demand for Merino wool for domestic and export markets through such initiatives,” Mr Chakraborty says. “Indian consumers recognise Australian Merino wool as a high-quality product and it is readily accepted.” One project that has borne fruit is a collaboration with textile manufacturer Raymond Ltd, owner of India’s largest men’s wear brand, Park Avenue. The result is a range of men’s clothing, including a machine-washable wool suit, which was released in April this year to meet the rising demand for quality, ‘easy-care’ clothing. The suit also has good environmental credentials, as it eliminates the need for chemical dry cleaning. Raymond Ltd expects to sell at least 10,000 of the suits in the domestic market over the next 12 months. Indians turn an appreciative eye to wool Indian consumers are embracing Australian Merino through innovative new products jointly developed by AWI and Indian clothing manufacturers 18 GLOBAL BEYOND THE BALE The company has created a special finishing application for the suit, using a 60/40 wool/polyester blend to create the machine-washable properties. AWI is also working with Raymond Ltd to produce a high-performance travel suit, which is expected to be launched later this year. Park Avenue is sourcing innovative knitwear products through AWI and working with three Hong Kong-based knitters to produce a range of mercerised, easy-care and easy- iron knitwear products for the local market later this year. Another large Indian textile manufacturer, Jayashree, with support from AWI, has developed a fine Merino wool linen blend fabric for shirts, jackets and trousers, which combines the coolness of linen with the fall and lustre of wool, making linen more acceptable to business consumers. Other collaborations are a woollen ‘kid’s wear’ range, with Monte Carlo, and a wool-silk sari with Satya Paul. “We are working with some of the leading retailers and brands in the country, such as Monte Carlo, Rage, Madura Garments, Arvind Brands, ITC Lifestyle and Benetton to add value to their business while, at the same time, introducing new products in Merino wool and blends for discerning consumers at the high end of the market,” Mr Chakraborty says. Over the next 12 months, AWI will split its resources in South Asia between India (80 per cent), Bangladesh, which is important for the export of knits (10 per cent), Sri Lanka (five per cent) and Nepal, where the market is mainly for floor coverings (five per cent). ú INDIA AT A GLANCE India has one of the largest middle-class populations in the world – between 200 and 300 million people. India is the fourth-largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity. At the current rate of growth, it will overtake Japan in 10 years to become the third-largest economy. ú GDP – A$1058 billion. ú Growth rate in 2006-07 – 9.4 per cent. ú Australia’s sixth-largest and fastest-growing major export market. ú Third-largest market for Australian wool, after China and Europe. ú Talks about a Free Trade Agreement between India and Australia began this year. More information: Debabrata Chakraborty, email@example.com; Jimmy Jackson, firstname.lastname@example.org India, with its young population, is a rapidly growing market for Australian wool. PHOTO: MEDIOIMAGES / PHOTODISC AWI has joined forces with Park Avenue, India’s largest men’s wear brand.
Jun - Jul 08 Supplement
Aug - Sep 08