Exporters in the textile hub of Tirupur have a strong order book but are spooked by the possibility of a hard lockdown.

As the pandemic rages on, threatening to disrupt economic activity, the textile industry, which has never had it so good on the export orders front, has sent out an SoS to the Centre and to state Chief Ministers.

The industry is at an inflection point with strong growth potential thanks to geopolitical factors. It has benefited from reports, in the last 6-8 months, of China using Uighurs in Xinjiang province as forced labour. This led to many top global textile brands moving orders to Indian players.

I think most Western nations have banned sourcing from China. So, India is having a good deal, T Kannan, Chairman and Managing Director, Thiagarajar Mills, told BusinessLine.

Bright outlook

Prabhu Dhamodharan, Convenor, Indian Texpreneurs Federation, agreed. “Export order outlook is good, and all developed markets and brands are showing good projections. Retail sales in the US are witnessing a robust trend along with lower levels of inventory with retailers leading to good demand for products like apparel and home textiles. The UK also opened its retail sector with the easing of the lockdown, post mass vaccination,” he said, adding that the sector is at the cusp of getting back its mojo.

But the rising Covid cases is threatening this dream run. “Though the spike in Covid cases is a concern, we have been telling Western clients that there is no major lockdown and operations of textile units are smooth as most units are spread out in rural areas,” he added.

Lockdown impact

Kannan is hoping that with government support the industry can complete the surging orders and establish India as a strong alternative sourcing base to China. But instances of States announcing lockdowns is worrying the sector.

The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has already written to various Union Ministries and Chief Ministers of several States seeking support for uninterrupted manufacturing.

Any full lockdown, at this point, will tear up the hard work put in by the apparel export sector over the last one year in getting back on the global map, A Sakthivel, Chairman, AEPC, said in his letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

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