CMAI organized a webinar on April 5, 2020 on the theme ‘Flourish or Vanish in COVID-19 Economy’. The panelists included CMAI board members Rahul Mehta, Chief Mentor, Rakesh Biyani, President, Rajesh Masand, Vice President and Premal Udani, Chairman, Board of Trustees, CMAI . The session was moderated by Basesh Gala.
The overwhelmingly attended webinar discussed the challenges staring at garment trade at present with the issues like impending order cancellations, total collapse of payment cycle and supply chain, seeking more clarity on easy bank overdraft or credit norms, fear of predatory pricing by online retailers etc.
Rahul Mehta pointed out, a ‘supply shock situation’ like this necessitates manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to be made partners rather than adversaries and to figure out how to ‘collaborate to construct’. “In such a situation, we cannot expect a win-win for anyone. Rather we should be looking at how we minimize the loss for each partners in the chain.” He went on to state in a situation like this everyone should be downsizing and saving expenses wherever possible. In manufacturing the mantra to recover should be “Productivity, Productivity and Productivity.”
Speaking on similar lines, Premal Udani said, “We have no alternative but to be more productive, a worker who makes 10 shirts in a shift, will have to make 12 shirts and we need to apply best practices in manufacturing and should increase production to bring down cost and work on low margins as buyers will look for great value for money”. Highlighting the need to fight out the situation as a team as we will have to work extremely hard, he quoted the famous saying: “Tough times will not last tough ones will last.”
“This is an unprecedented event and none of us have seen this kind of situation earlier, so we may not have solution to suggest for every problem,” pointed out Rakesh Biyani. He however cautioned all brands, retailers and online retailers not to indulge in deep discounting and predatory pricing immediately after the lockdown, rather end of season sales should be postponed this time to end of August instead of end of June. “We have late Diwali this year and in India, we always expect festivity to revive sales.”
Highlighting some practical issues Rajesh Masand said, trade is faced with no fund flow, the challenge of paying its staff in the face of mounting problem. “Will the middlemen survive and how are they stacked up in the given unfolding situation, as increasingly this segment is concerned,” he said.
Numerous suggestions and ideas were raised and discussed during the webinar. Some of these were: CMAI should form an arbitration cell to sort out payment default issues to help fortify the war against willful defaulters to keep trade at large cash flow situation; CMAI should look into forming a robust rating process fostering a just and fair work ethos across eco-system.
Talking about the uncertainty over NGF, Mehta summed up, “As many small manufacturers depended on National Garment Fair for their bookings, we would like to hold the event, however, when this will be held in July or in August, we shall only be able to take a call on this once lockdown is over.”