Mumbai: One of the most depressing fall-outs of the recent SARS infection for the Chinese government and the industry was the huge loss of business at the Canton fair that simply collapsed recently thanks to the virus. The industry remains unsure of a quick revival in October 2003, leaving both manufacturers and buyers in a precarious situation.
Thankfully, neither the war in Iraq nor SARS in the East have put major dampers on Indian textile exports due to its links to the world's most important trade fairs for this industry - the Heimtextil and Texworld brands.
Heimtextil in Frankfurt remains the most important venue for sound business for the home fashion industry from India. As can be seen from the last show in January 2002, the largest participation from outside Europe (at No 2 position) came from India. Occupying more than 12,000 sq mts of exhibition space, 364 Indian manufacturers filled their order books for business for the coming seasons.
"Despite looming negative developments in the economic climate worldwide, Indian manufacturers returned from Frankfurt with enough business to see them through this year and the next," says Shammi Nagpal, managing director, Messe Frankfurt India.
"It is the sheer commitment of Messe Frankfurt towards Indian manufacturers that sees them growing in both quantity and quality at our important fairs year by year. No other trade fair organiser welcomes Indians in such large numbers. Consider other international organisers. The focus at those events is to present their industry in largest numbers rather than with competition from India. Hence Indian presence at those shows remains minimal. At Frankfurt, we are very proud to welcome Indians in large numbers and that is extremely beneficial for our industry," says Nagpal.
The story at Texworld in Paris remains the same, if not better. This year, India became the largest exhibitor at the fully booked clothing fabrics show beating strong competitors like Turkey and Taiwan with more than 187 participants. India's silk and embroidery exporters took advantage of Texworld being held at the same time as Premier Vision (a strictly European event) to pull off orders in millions. The shirting and suiting sectors also reported a fair amount of business even as American buyers remained largely absent thanks to the war in Iraq.
Messe Frankfurt is continuously looking at newer ways to provide new avenues for business by launching its brand fairs world over. "The forthcoming Heimtextil India is already showing a sign of a 25-per cent growth, as the next event gets set to welcome even more buyers thanks to the SARS scare in the Far East. Buyers who normally travel to the east in October are now targeting Messe Frankfurt's show in New Delhi from 4-7 October 2003. We are getting excellent enquiries from new buyers. The last show featured buyers from 85 countries and that will definitely increase just like international exhibitors who are exploring participation at the fair," says Sameera Ahmed, project manager.
"Indian manufacturers should make the best of the current situation by actively marketing their products and reaching new markets. Naturally, the best way to get the attention of serious buyers is to take part in branded textile shows in different parts of the world. Going by the track record, Messe Frankfurt's textile events are probably the best options for our industry. Heimtextil is staged in 13 locations worldwide. Texworld is held twice every year and hence that is also an opportunity not to be missed," says Nagpal.
In order to assist global manufacturers even more, Messe Frankfurt is also changing its policy worldwide in the participation process where subsidiaries are located. So far, in addition to the large majority of manufacturers who have been handled by the subsidiary offices, many third party organisers have also been present in the form of associations with their members on joint stands. Most often the joint stands were presented with the wrong products and had poor presentations. Moreover, getting correct timely information from these organisers has always been difficult - a factor that is critical to the advance preparation time that goes into the prefect organisation of world-class events.
From this year onwards, the company has decided to change that in order to ensure that product quality and integrity and proper deadlines are met. Hence the subsidiary office will handle all Indian manufacturers.
Accordingly, the industry has a wider choice in the participation process. There will be two options that a customer can choose from - either renting raw space and then individually ordering all the requirements from stand construction to catalogue entry, or they could select the full service package organised by Messe Frankfurt, which means that everything is taken care of: from stand construction and electricity to a free business centre, free meeting rooms, interpreters and free catering, all within arms reach of their stands. Travel and accommodation packages are also available.
"Our idea is to offer even better services to our manufacturers. The new policy will allow for a larger number of companies to join Heimtextil, further enhancing India's image at our shows. Naturally, all of the above will depend on how much space is available since the existing manufacturers only want more space each year... hence there are bound to be wait lists and disappointments. But we will try our best," says Nagpal.
Messe Frankfurt is confident that many new companies from the wait list will be able to participate in 2004 due to relocations and shifts due to product placements. "Our advice to the industry is to make sure they are not left out. Go out and get business that would have gone to other Asian exhibitors," she adds.
Messe Frankfurt will continue to welcome Indians at its world-class textile events. That should be enough reason for the textile industry to feel happy about, since being at pole position could mean sure success if routed and planned strategically.