A tailor weaves homespun dreams by becoming Wal-Mart’s chosen supplier
August 4, 2008 § Leave a comment
WHEN Venus Garments bagged Wal-Mart’s ‘Supplier of the Year’ award in 2007, Anil Jain wasn’t surprised. What perhaps flashed in front of his eyes were images from the past when he used to run a 20*20 sq.ft. pigeon hole in Ludhiana’s congested Dal Bazar. Today, Anil Jain’s Venus shines bright with more than 6 lakh sq ft and eight units across the country. There’s an air of satisfaction too—of having gone it alone, when he lost his father at the tender age of 12. And entrepreneurship came easy from his school days when he bunked classes to stitch clothes for the neighbourhood. That’s when he made his first nickel, and apparel got entrenched in his mindscape.
Few would have imagined that from these such humble beginnings, the company would venture into direct export in 1992 and now even plans to start the company’s own retail outlets. “Time management and bringing out the most from every cloth was the only thing in mind. I could even make undergarments by cutting wastage left after stitching armymen’s vests. I used to sell these for rupees three a dozen in 1969,” says the 54-year-old businessman.
When ET caught up with Jain at his Venus Garments factory on GT road in Ludhiana, he ambled in sporting a black trouser and a navy blue shirt. Through the conversation, he gave due credence to his elder brothers Komal of Duke Group and Nirmal of Neva Garments, for his success story. “When we started the company, we had two workers and only second-hand sewing machines. My mother also used to work on machines till late night. Today, Venus Garments is providing direct employment to about 6,000 people and indirect employment to many more.”
Initially, he started out by stitching for players like Bhandari Hosiery, Grateway, Nagesh Hosiery, Jainson Hosiery and Addi Industries. “Our first year sales were approximately Rs 13,000. At that time, we had a target to grow the business. As I started with nothing, so even 0.1 million was very encouraging and valuable,” he says. Jain points out that he actually made his first million in 1976 when he bought a second-hand Fiat. The businessman now enjoys the comfort of a Mercedes car and his son drives a BMW.
One of the few companies that did not shift or close operation during terrorism days in Punjab, Venus stands tall as an epitome of optimism. “We did not plan on shifting anywhere. Rather, we planned and made our knitting and dyeing factory during that period,” he says.
The Rs 230-crore company was breezing along when the first gust of capital struck in 1992 when on Jain’s request, a buying agent gave the company a small order of 10,000 pieces of knitted tees for a US chain store. That, in a way, was the springboard for Venus when its product quality started weaving a chain of prospective international buyers. “Wal-Mart and Mexico, Old Navy (owned by Gap Inc), Tom Tailor, The Children’s Place, Sam’s Club and Suburbia are today my major buyers. I would not be surprised if the American clothing brand, Abercrombie and Fitch, becomes my buyers soon,” he says.
Registering a turnover of Rs 230 crore in 2007-08, the company is targeting an annual growth of 30%. It has had a CAGR of 48% over the last three years. Venus is a vertically integrated group encompassing yarn dyeing, fabric knitting, fabric dyeing, finishing, rotary printing, garmenting, garment washing, printing and embroidery. Its range of products includes polo, T-shirts, jogging suit, sweatshirts, thermal wear, and sweaters for men, women, kids and infants.
The company’s two units in Tirupur and another six units in Ludhiana have a capacity to manufacture 2 million pieces a month. “We are planning for backward integration. Setting up of a spinning unit with 25,000 spindles spread over 60-80 acre and an investment of Rs 70 crore, is my immediate concern. Apart from it, I see a huge market in domestic retail. By the end of the year, we will open 10 stores, with the first store under our own brand name in Punjab,” says Jain. The man who could not pursue higher education for want of time and money, now wishes to open a polytechnic college in Punjab in collaboration with a German institution.