Khadi Goes Contemporary

KhadiFor Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), this October Two, when its stores witness a rise in footfalls due to the annual discount, is going to be different. It is finalizing plans to take the e-commerce route and talks are on for tie-ups.

It has decided to open up its retailing to non-khadi players too, with Raymond being its first franchise partner. “We are looking at other players also but Raymond will be the first one,” KVIC chief executive Arun Kumar Jha said. The textiles major is expected to sell premium products as part of the deal. It will be the first time khadi will “officially” go out of 7,000-odd outlets, although unauthorized khadi bhandars have sprouted across the country.

The e-commerce foray is a recognition of the new reality, where people are shopping online for shampoo, soaps and face packs sporting the khadi logo (sold by unauthorized e-tailers). But KVIC isn’t jumping on to the Flipkart, Amazon or Snapdeal bandwagon. “We can’t offer the 50% discounts that some of them are asking for,” Jha said. The option of setting up its own platform was considered but the idea was junked given the logistics and distribution network.

The revamp, however, goes beyond retailing -the plan is to rework the product mix. KVIC is aiming to double the share of readymades to around 40 per cent of its sales. Hence the focus on a new product range that includes denim wear and T-shirts, complete with the Khadi Mark, and high-end fabric such as khadi muslin.

At the moment, though, supply can’t keep pace with demand. “I am unable to sell denim outside Delhi,” Jha said adding that production is being ramped up to meet the demand. This will also help increase the earnings of the weavers -from an average of around Rs 225 daily, the target is to nearly double it to Rs 400.

Many, however, said the quality and design of the products need to be worked upon. But KVIC sees it as a USP. “No two shirts will be exactly the same. We have tie-ups with NIFT and National Institute of Design to give us a modern design and feel,” Jha said. Tie-ups with designers are also being explored, he added.

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