COVID-19: Punjab's garment industry sees 70 pc drop in orders for winter garments

The famous garment industry of Punjab is staring at massive losses on account of almost 70 per cent drop in orders for winter wear in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike previous years when garment manufacturing units would work at full steam during this time of year, most factories are running at just 30-35 per cent capacities, Ludhiana-based garment makers said on Wednesday.

The industry manufactures winter wear during June, July and August.

The sharp fall in orders for winter garments is a double blow for the industry, which already suffered a setback with buyers cancelling or putting on hold orders for summer wear because of COVID-19 pandemic, they said.

"Buyers have placed just 30 per cent orders for winter wear this season as compared to last year," Ludhiana-based garment maker Ajit Lakra said.

Besides, there is uncertainty about demand for winter wear after September month.

"If winter items are not sold at retail shops, there are chances that payments may get stuck," Lakra told PTI.

"What will you do with just 30 per cent orders? How will you bear your fixed expenses like interest, etc," he said while urging the government to step in to rescue the industry.

Industry representatives further pointed out that fashion products or garments manufacturing units would bear the maximum brunt.

"People do not have money. They will spend only on essential items rather than purchasing non-essential fashion wear," Knitwear Club President Vinod Thapar said.

"People are buying just casual dresses or inner wear which is essential. Nobody is purchasing new shirts etc," another industrialist pointed out.

With no B2B (business to business) exhibitions taking place this season due to the pandemic, buyers could not place orders with the industry.

Duke Group Chairman Komal Jain said there is uncertainty about improvement in the situation amid the pandemic.

"We are making just 50 per cent goods this season which will be required for our own retail showrooms," he said.

Besides, the industry is also facing labour shortage, he said.

The industry is now seeking help from the government to extend moratorium on payment of loan installments.

"The government will have to extend the moratorium for the industry for six months more. Otherwise majority of the units will turn NPAs (non-performing assets)," said Lakra, who is also the textile division head of the Federation of Industrial and Commercial Organisation (FICO).

The industry, comprising of around 10,000 textile units in Ludhiana with an annual turnover of Rs 50,000 crore, also urged Punjab government to waive fixed electricity charges.

"The way things are going, we do not expect the industry to touch business volume of Rs 20,000 crore," Lakra said.

Ludhiana, one of the oldest textile clusters in the country, is famous for winter garments like jackets, sweaters, thermals, pullovers, inners, shawls, woollen socks, cardigans, among others.
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