Picanol: Various government funding schemes are pushing up investments in India’s decentralized weaving sector

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Picanol India completed six years of operation in December 2013. On this occasion, Textile Excellence spoke with P. Kasiviswanathan, Head of Indian Operations, Picanol India Pvt Ltd, about the company's market positioning, and expectations from the Indian market, going forward.

How is the investment scenario in Indian weaving sector? How is the sailing for Picanol in the Indian market?

Investment is happening in selected big groups for sure. There is considerable investment coming from the decentralized sector as well. Government measures have helped too. If you talk about the overall performance in 2013 for Picanol India, it is very good and encouraging.  If I talk about investment in weaving machinery which entirely depends upon how much money weaving units are making, there has been some uncertainty due to fluctuation of fabric demand in the domestic market, high cost of raw material, namely yarn and no increased margin in the fabric price. As per market information, there is very limited encouragement from the banks who do not consider the textile industry as a priority for funding.

If we look back over the last six years of operation completed by Picanol India, we can say with pleasure and pride that we did well and were able to connect with the customers directly, improve service levels, explore new markets, frequent visits of Picanol India sales & service people helped to understand market well. Our print repair activity also confirms an increased customer base, which more than doubled in six years' time and the number of customers using our workshop services has also increased, together with use of original spares.

Picanol is very successful in high-tech shuttleless weaving machinery segment in India. What makes Picanol successful in India and what are the challenges, opportunities and growth pockets you see now and in future?

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Picanol has been the technological leader in the weaving machinery market. We have seen the grand success of Summum airjet loom since it was introduced in ITMA Barcelona and largest number of these high speed machines are running in India's various fabric segment viz., shirting, bottom wear, sheeting and home furnishing. Some of the features like fully electronic pressure setting, unique triple air tank set-up, separate air tank per weaving channel, Picanol blue box new electronic platform with  modular build up prints are well appreciated by customers. But of course the main reason of success is that customers realize that the new technology results in higher industrial speeds, combined with a reduced air consumption and broader weaving range. These days, while making an investmentdecision, customer gives more weightage to sound technical support and after sales service and that's where Picanol gained, with the establishment of Picanol India.There are plenty of opportunities in India in modernizing conventional looms to high speed shuttleless looms but it has been a slow process. Almost 90% of the fabric in India is made by powerlooms which shows the potential for technological upgradation. So we see a long term growth potential in India.

What is the market share of Picanol in India in comparison with other market players?

Numbers are always debatable, so I would proudly say Picanol enjoys considerable market share both in airjet and rapier looms in all fabric segments. Our biggest strength is the repeat customers who are satisfied with our product and service, and willing to continue the relationship by showing their unconditional support to Picanol technology.

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What is your opinion on low priced Chinese weaving machinery? Do they offer any threat to high end weaving machinery suppliers?

Price for sure is one of the major decision making criteria, but customers do realize that weaving machines have to perform over a period of ten years or even more – so they are prepared to pay more if it also pays off in terms of higher reliability, a wider weaving range, a consistent long term productivity and a high second-hand value even after many years of service. Picanol has a proven track record in this respect. Indian customers are smart in quickly realizing that after sales support is another major factor to place any order. 

What would be the impact of RR-TUFS which now offers higher subsidy for new weaving machinery and reduced incentives for second-hand machines?

Biggest gainer of TUFs is the decentralized sector. Already the basic custom duty for looms is zero, with no export commitment to be given. Through TUF there is a central subsidy and then various state subsidies are also available. The government has discouraged buying of second-hand looms by reducing  interest reimbursement to 2% from 6%. More or less with 11% interest combined subsidy, cost of investment is nearly without interest. I see the decentralized sector going in for planned investment now and we are confident that this sector will do well for next 3 years as 15% capital subsidy is substantial amount for small time weavers where average loom per installation is 12 to 18 machines. Practically I see second-hand machine sales reducing drastically.

What is the scenario of woven technical textile industry in India? What are the areas that Picanol can support Indian entrepreneurs?

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Picanol is very well known in India and for many customers looking into venturing into technical textiles, it's a comforting idea that their preferred supplier can help them to enter into technical textiles as well. And this with top products. Picanol is often selected by foreign investors already used to work with our equipment. We are happy with what has been achieved over the last couple of year, we see a growing opportunity for TT in India , and this not only because the domestic market is growing, but also because Indian companies will start or continue to export their goods to world markets. As the right equipment and processes are put in place, anything can be achieved. Picanol did showcase a cut model of the latest development: the positive guided gripper model OptiMax GPG, now offered in widths of up to 540 cm. This opens up a totally new field of applications as the machine is flexible in weft insertion and gets to top speeds at a moderate operational cost. The development of this machine was a logical step for Picanol in order to fulfill the increasing demands from the technical markets.                                     

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