Ludhiana sewing machine industry in dire straits

CHANDIGARH:With demand for conventional black sewing machines drying up in the domestic market, Ludhiana-based manufacturers are contemplating to diversify into commercial sewing machines for the hosiery sector.

Ludhiana sewing machine industry in dire straits

ILLUSTRATION: SANDEEP JOSHI

Vijay C Roy
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 2

With demand for conventional black sewing machines drying up in the domestic market, Ludhiana-based manufacturers are contemplating to diversify into commercial sewing machines for the hosiery sector. Besides individual efforts, the industry is seeking support from the government in terms of protection from China and grant for setting up a cluster to undertake research and development. 

According to the industry, total market for imported industrial sewing machines is between Rs 250 crore and Rs 300 crore and is dominated by China. So, the diversification in the area makes sense for domestic sewing industry, which is grappling with dwindling sales from the past few years. 

Annually, Ludhiana produces around 2.80 lakh conventional black sewing machines and 1.20 lakh embroidery and industrial machines. 

Ludhiana boasts of around 400 units in micro, small and medium enterprises sector. According to the industry, every year the sales are dwindling anywhere between 10-20%, resulting in closure of micro units. Exports of machines from Ludhiana have also been affected as the machines equipped with better technology and cheaper rates are available from China.

“The industry is passing through a rough phase for the past one decade. Since a majority of the units are in micro and small category, they don’t have enough resources to carry out research and development,” said Dalbir Singh Dhiman, chairman, United Sewing Machine & Parts Manufacturers Association.

For conventional black-coloured machines, the industry is dependent on government purchases. These machines are mainly distributed to poor families under various schemes besides buying by NGOs and individual purchases by poor families. 

“Considering the downward trend, we are now planning to tap commercial machines’ segment,” said Gurmukh Singh Rupal, general secretary, United Sewing Machine & Parts Manufacturers Association.

“We have been producing commercial machines but it has suffered an onslaught when China entered the domestic market with machines, which besides competitively priced are superior in quality, production and have low maintenance. Considering these facts, the industry is now gearing up to expand its product portfolio,” Rupal added.

“Besides individual efforts, we need government assistance, both at the state and the Centre. The government can protect the industry from China by increasing the import duty, setting up a cluster and reducing GST on sewing machines,” Rupal said.

The industry was paying 5.5% tax on sewing machines during VAT regime and now it is 12% under GST. Being a cottage industry, manufacturers have also demanded steps to monitor arbitrary hikes in prices of steel, which constitutes major input costs.

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