Breaking new ground

By Ruby Thapar with inputs from Mr. K. D. Joshi

This story has a beginning and a middle. It doesn't have an end yet. For convenience, we will choose the present as the middle. The story is about Indian Rayon's Viscose Filament Yarn business or VFY as it is popularly known and now Ray One. The beginning was in the year 1963 or you may say 2001. There were precedents and antecedents, without which the story would never have begun.

The Rayon division is based at Veraval, Gujarat. It has a production of 16,000 tpa and is the first in the country to adopt the most advanced VFY technology with eight continuous spinning machines on parallel yarn. Viscose Filament Yarn (VFY) is made from 100 per cent natural wood pulp imported from Canada. Fabric made with VFY feels like cotton, drapes like wool, sheaths and clings like satin, and has the lustre and feel of silk. VFY is used by manufacturers of high-end ladies fashion apparel, saris, upholstery and suit linings. Iterates Mr. K. K. Maheshwari, Business Head VFY division, "the use of rayon clearly seems to be the trend with designers these days, who have previously been interested in the fabric. The new age fibres are being blended with other natural and man-made fibres to produce extremely versatile range of fabrics that provides apparel makers with ample scope to distinguish their merchandise from the rest of the pack, as well as improve realisations. Besides fulfilling consumer demands for 'something new', these new fibres go a long way in enhancing the overall quality, look and feel of the end product". Competing in a global scenario like this, he further adds, will be a constraint on the volume growth. Thus, the niche will be to move up the quality ladder, offer value added products, maintain / quicken the pace to preserve the competitive edge and focus on the global markets.

In the year 2003, VFY revenue was Rs. 338 crore and in 2004 Rs. 335.2 crore. Its profit after tax went up from Rs. 29.6 crore in 2002 to 97.1 crore in the year 2003 and stands at Rs. 77.9 crore in 2004. This is part of the story. How did this happen?

Quite earlier in the day quality and new product development were identified as critical issues to the business. The VFY team took proactive and innovative strategic and operational steps to position the new VFY business strategy with internal and external customers.

The first step was innovation and quality - a first in the VFY industry. The application and product development team is involved in the ongoing development of high modulus yarn. Widening their product portfolio the new variations introduced have been flat yarns, micro filament yarns, fur yarns with polyester base, loop yarns, and silky silk yarn, which is being positioned as a substitute for silk. They also believe that quality never goes out of fashion. Their first quality stands at 60 per cent plus today as compared to the 42 per cent in 2001. They offer a wide product spectrum from 75 - 1200 denier in finishes like bright, dull and dyed in over 400 shades conforming to international quality standards.

People processes was the next step. "There's no real debate about the importance of people. Trainings, upgradation of competencies and rewards for performers were all looked at again. The management drilled the vision and strategy of the Company into all the employees aligning them to one thought. Communication became central. We initiated various motivational schemes like suggestion scheme, internal customer standards and others for improved participation of the employees in productivity and quality improvement. We educated employees to survive in the current stiff competition and change their mindsets for success and to remain competitive. The plant forges ahead in its innovative people development initiatives. We also repositioned the Company to our internal customers. We put up posters in all offices emphasising quality, team work and customer orientation, brought in automation which empowered people, integrating seamlessly in real time", shares Mr. K.C. Jhanwar, Executive President, Rayon division.

Marketing came next. The VFY industry as a whole is generally unaware of its customer dealing with middlemen most of the time. The Company was also facing tough times in the global market. Their product sold under the name of VFY from Indian Rayon, became the generic name for all VFY i.e any rayon from India, especially inferior quality rayon, was dismissed as rayon from the Indian Rayon stable, hampering their competitive edge and market realisations. Thus, the Rayon team took on market surveys to better understand the market and the customer locally and internationally. The threat to the brand coupled with the market research findings egged the team to rethink the marketing strategy. The first thing the team did was to reach out to its consumers - the weavers, dealers and the knitters in totality. They also started catering to customised needs of their customers thus enhancing their services and relationships with them. Another area of linkages was through technical support. The other important step, which has been pioneering, was the branding of a commoditised product like VFY as Ray One. All the customers were invited at Veraval for the brand launch. They also visited the plant and interacted with the teams there expressing their happiness and concerns.

"Ray One as it is now known is closely associated with leading fashion designers and other players in the fashion industry. It has partnered with leading fashion design institutes like NIFT in the development of high-end fashion collections. Customers too have felt the change. Ray One has now consolidated its market leader position in VFY. With new product developments 15 per cent of Rayon products are sold at a premium over competition in domestic markets and 20 per cent of the production now caters to the global market. A raw material that fashion pundits swear by," says Mr. K. D. Joshi, Sr. Vice President Marketing, Ray One.

The Company grew with the new value added products. The Rayon division tightened its belt, improved efficiencies, ensured quality, increased motivation and optimised the products-services mix. They ensured the influence of the Company was felt throughout the organisation.

Going forward the Rayon division is looking at:

  • Acquiring new technology
  • Delivering consistent quality to compete globally
  • Ray One brand deriving higher realisations from premium customers
    in India and abroad
  • Improving cost competitiveness through productivity improvement

This they believe can be achieved through exports and R&D. Exports as they make an immediate impact on the bottom line and R&D as it increases influence and respect.

The climax…has still to come!

There's nothing as exquisitely feminine as Ray One. Its liquid form lends itself admirable to anything free-flowing. Whether it's the cling of a chic cocktail dress, or the loose aqueous cut of a classic evening gown, Ray One adds the oomph and the stylish elegance. The fall, the style and the comfort of Ray One is unbeatable when it comes to the most traditional of feminine Indian apparel, the essential saree. Be it ethnic classical styles, the contemporary creation of avant-garde designers or traditional Indian embroidery, Ray One straddles all realms with consummate ease. The suitability of Ray One for home furnishings is unparalleled. From elaborate bedspreads to luxurious tapestries. Ray One provides a rich canvas. Being easily dyeable, Ray One imparts an exquisite lustre and vibrancy to any print
What our customers say
The drape and aesthetic appeal of Ray One georgette, crepe and chiffon are beyond comparision. The higher comfort level of Ray One further adds the value in these fabrics. Knowingly or unknowingly Ray One has been the integral part of fashion industry..."
Mr. Chipalunkar, Ex-Director NIFT, Mumbai"The performance of Ray One 120 D high modulus dull is really very good on the sizing machine and further weaving process."
Mr. Amit Shajanand Textiles, Surat"The quality and continuous developmental efforts have put Ray One far ahead of its competitors. Before sourcing the VFY based fabrics we ensure that they have been produced from RAY ONE..."
Mr. Gaurav Lakhina, Vice President, Maya Exports Corporation, New Delhi "The specialty 120 D high modulus dull yarn provides us added advantages of better machine efficiency in warping, sizing as well as in weaving through very less to say practically, no thread breakages and superior end
product quality."
Mr. Ramesh, M/s Dumpy Textiles, Surat"We at S.N.D.T. have always emphasized young designers to use natural eco-friendly fabrics for making their collection. The Ray One based fabric in addition to being natural and comfortable are highly versatile. They are very soft in both the knits and woven form and are elegant having brilliant colours and shades..."
Ms Radha Sinha, Principal, Premlila Vithaldas Polytechnic, S.N.D.T. Women's University, Mumbai"The specialty high modulus 120 D Brt. yarn performs very well as pile in the Velvet fabric. Due to its high strength it sustains weaving stresses very well and longer length of defect free fabric is obtained."
Mr. Anand Shorewala M/s Meghraj Shorewala, Mumbai"We have never faced quality or performance related problems while using 120 D high modulus brt. and 120 D high modulus dull."
Mr. Bharat, M/s Riddhi Textiles, Mumbai"The Ray One viscose filament yarn quality is comparable to the other world class manufacturers. The aesthetic appeal and quality of fabrics made from Ray One yarn is well accepted among international byers..."
Mr. Fawzi Haffar, M/s Lemantech Import & Export Co. Ltd, UK