A two-day ‘India Market Days’ was recently organized by the AEPC at Apparel House, to bring in some buyers for those garment exporters who have their permanent showrooms in the building. However, the event was very low-key and disappointing to the few exporters who did open their showrooms, as only a fistful of buyers visited the event and many raised doubt on their credibility. Some buyers from Nigeria were not even carrying their cards… It is hard to believe that they travelled all the way from Nigeria to attend a BSM and ran out of cards with hardly 30 showrooms opened!
Exporters who have showrooms in Apparel House are highly disillusioned by the whole concept, which initially started with the very noble idea of boosting export business of SME’s. “AEPC and the Ministry of Textiles have failed to take this project to a logical conclusion which was to help in increasing the exports. The basic concept of this mart was that it would be given to exporters in the small and medium segment, but these exporters could not take the marketing to an effective level which is required in international trade. However, along the way, somewherethis whole concept got lost,” says J. L Sehgal, Kiran Associates, while talking to Team Apparel Online. “This reverse BSM which is taking place for the first time could have been initiated four years ago. No fairs or market weeks were organized in these years and if at all they were organized, they were an eye wash. It was just to put a couple of people at peace to show that they are doing something,” states disenchanted Sehgal. Even shifting IIGF back to Pragati Maidan after two editions was a setback forshowroom owners.
The exporters at Apparel House want that the AEPC should have a dedicated budget for such BSMs and that there should be positive cooperation between Apparel House Showroom owners and the AEPC. “We have already lost five years by the inaction of AEPC. Small exporters like a majority of us cannot afford to spend on marketing. We have asked the AEPC Chairman to make the shows more regular. He said that he has financial constraint to have more than 3 shows. We would like to appeal to the AEPC and the textile ministry to put funds generated from this building itself to be spent on the promotion of the exports which is the basic aim of this building. There should be more activities performed. There should be more intent; as long as the intention is not there, things will not happen,” adds Sehgal.
Though many big exporters have acquired showrooms in the mart, they too have failed to use the premises gainfully and many of the showrooms tell the story of neglect. “If bigger exporters would have kept showrooms opened for regular buyers, we would also have been benefited by the footfall,” argues Sushil K. Aggarwal, MD, Eves Fashion. The beautiful building has an infrastructure that is world class. The seventh floor was supposed to be buyers’ lounge where buyer, after checking out from his hotel, could spend some time with the vendors in the showroom, rest at the lounge before going to the airport. But now that place has been given to IAM, the fashion institute initiated by the AEPC.
The showrooms at Apparel House were given on lease with an option for ten years or five years. There are about 240 showrooms but just 87 are operating from here that too half-heartedly. “If 240 exporters are here from different regions of India showcasing their latest development, the buying agents would be able to see many choices and differentiate on what best matches their requirement, the mart could have been a vibrant business centre,” says Rajiv Kapoor of Affordable Exports.
The showroom owners at Apparel House strongly believe that their representation with the Ministry of Textiles and AEPC have not yielded any positive results till date. Nothing concrete has been done. Many committees were made and monthly/by-monthly meetings take place, though showroom owners keep on suggesting ways, but unfortunately nothing cameout of it.
The showroom owners feel that there has been a lot of deficit of trust amongst them with regard to AEPC. They feel that AEPC is because of them and for them; AEPC without exporters has no entity. The trust should be brought back by talking across the table and by showing a clear dedicated intent for the development of this mart so that small exporters like them can survive.
There is also a demand that some space should be let out to buying offices. The AEPC, however, claims that they had offered the space to buying offices but they didn’t want to come. However the showroom owners have different saga regarding this. In their view, AEPC is creating hurdles with unnecessary and complicated terms and conditions that a person would rather say ‘no’ than going for the lease.