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World celebrates Christmas 'Made in India'

By Arvinder Kaur in New Delhi
December 24, 2006 15:12 IST
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It is essentially a Christmas 'Made in India' that the western world is celebrating this year!

From the Santa to the crosses and pendants that the Christians across the world wear on Christmas, hangings, decoratives, Christmas tree, electric lighting sets, artificial flowers including plastic flowers, candles, and tapers are being made by artisans in cities of Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and exported to high-end stores in the US and Europe.

"Global retail giant Wal-Mart's recent announcement that its X'mas ring this year has been designed in India made big news. But the fact is that Indian products dominate the 'holiday decor' segment of high-end stores like Bottery Barn, Neiman Marcus and Anthropologie in America and Europe," says Aseem Bhatia of Aryan Worldwide, a Delhi-based exporter.

"Wal-Mart is a retail store for mass market. But Indian products, which are all hand-made are generally made for high-end stores. Because of the richness of design and colour forecast, that they offer, they command certain 'respect' and price index," says Bhatia.

Agrees Rakesh Kumar, executive director, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts, "manufacturers from Delhi, Moradabad, Agra are producing various Christmas products, which are being supplied to the big stores like J C Penny, DSS, Blooming Dales and Wal-mart."

As per the market estimates, the world market of Christmas festive products is around $10 billion. China, Hong Kong, Germany, USA, Netherlands, Thailand, Taiwan, Poland, Canada & UK are the top ten exporters of the Christmas festive articles.

India as per export statistics does not fall under first 10 category but the exports of Christmas Festive articles from here are on the rise, notes Kumar.

"What we need to understand is that Indian products are not for the mass market like the Chinese, which are all machine made, wear a plastic look and are available in bulk. India on the other hand offers hand-made decorative items, especially those in zari with zardosi work. They have a very rich look, offer colour forecast and are for the niche market," says Bhatia.

"The designs, colours, trends, everything is finalised a year before, we are already working on the 2007 Christmas and the orders would be shipped by next July. The projections and trends were finalised in July-August this year," he says, noting, "besides big stores, we also work with big importers who supply to these stores."

As far as the mass market goes, India faces lot of competition from China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Philippines, notes Kumar.

Kalpana Patel, another exporter says the Indian products are priced slightly higher compared to Chinese. Since the retailers want to keep their margins intact, they prefer

Chinese products. "Because of this our exports have gone down."
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Arvinder Kaur in New Delhi
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