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BPO: Bangalore firm opens apparel design unit

By S Kalyana Ramanathan in Chennai
March 10, 2004 08:38 IST
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A Bangalore firm is breaking new ground in outsourcing by setting up a design centre for the multi-billion dollar global apparel industry.

Reach Sewn Technologies & Consulting, a software products and services provider to the global apparel industry, will set up an apparel CAD (computer aided design) subsidiary with an investment of $7 million.

The unit, which will be commissioned in six months, will employ 450 pattern masters in the first year of operations.

A pattern master does the designing work (through CAD) for parts of a garment. For example, a typical shirt is made of several patterns -- such as one for the collar, one for the shoulder, one for the sleeves, etc.

The subsidiary, which is yet to be named, will deliver drawings of garments to global brands such as Levis, Wal-Mart, Gap Inc and Liz Clairborne.

The venture would be backed by a private equity fund -- Nadathur Holdings and Investments -- promoted by N S Raghavan, one of the founders of software major Infosys Technologies.

Says Shyam Raj, CEO of Reach Sewn, "The opportunities in the CAD BPO space for the apparel industry are huge. At a very comparable level of skill sets, a pattern master in the US will cost $6,000 per month, while it would cost just $500 per month in India."

He, however, did not divulge the company's topline target for the first year of operations.

The mother unit will be set up in 5 acres the outskirts of Bangalore and would have several smaller units located in all the major apparel manufacturing centres in India.

The mother unit will employ 450 pattern masters in the first phase, while smaller units employing 20 people each will be located in other apparel centres such as Coimbatore, Tirupur and Ludhiana, he added.

The company plans to scale up headcount to 2,000 pattern masters within 18 months from the date of starting the Bangalore centre. Raj said at present patterns and markers for the global apparel industry are made at multiple locations leading to inefficiencies in terms of work duplication and version control problems.

"With a centralised pattern and marker making set-up that will work 24x7, global apparel brands can save money and achieve better standardisation," he said.

Markers are put together on the final piece of cloth. Here, the CAD software would advise on what is the optimal way to do that to ensure minimum wastage of cloth during cutting. Reach Sewn already has a host of products and service offerings focussed on the apparel segment.

"We will stick to this one domain where we offer products and even ERP solutions and emerge as the largest full-service provider for the global fashion industry," says Raj.

Reach Sewn, which at present employs 80 professionals at its Bangalore centre, will be adding 120 more in the coming year. The company is targeting a turnover of Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million) for the next fiscal against Rs 6 crore (Rs 60 million) for the current year. The company, which commenced operations in 1999, was funded by Nadathur Holding in 2001.

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S Kalyana Ramanathan in Chennai

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