Fabindia eyes growth in region
Spurred by good demand and quality, Fabindia is now on expansion mode in the Northeast.
The company, which started with a store in Guwahati at the behest of and in collaboration with JJ Marketing owned by Jahnabi Phookan and Jesmina Zeilang, has added one more store in Dibrugarh and is looking to expand further, given the good response.
“The encouraging response in Guwahati prompted the company to expand further into Dibrugarh. We expe-ct a continuous and sustained growth in keeping with the economy of the state,” Pallabi Basu, regional manager, Fab-india, told The Telegraph.
In fact, in response to the growing demand, the company has come forward with a larger inventory and a professional team to manage the store, while JJ Marketing continues as its agent.
The second store, started last month in a heritage bungalow in Dibrugarh, has also been well received.
Sources said the company was already thinking of opening stores in other places but this would take some time. “A lot of issues like logistics have to be studied and once that is through there is no problem,” a source said.
Both outlets in Assam are franchisee owned.
Fabindia is the country’s largest private platform for products made using traditional techniques, skills and hand-based processes. It links over 80,000 craft-based rural producers to modern urban markets, creating a base for skilled, sustainable rural employment and preserving India’s traditional handicrafts in the process.
It believes in an inclusive economy and sources extensively from indigenous craftsmen and procures significantly from artisans in the Northeast. One of the company’s biggest strengths has been customer loyalty, which has been achieved through a combination of factors, including value for money products, good quality and a distinct look.
The official said there was tremendous awareness for handcrafted and handloom products in the Northeast, which already has a rich handloom heritage. “So far, the business has been viable here and are eliciting a good response here.”
The best part is that the artisans get work from Fabindia throughout the year, which on one hand has prevented them from looking for other sources of income and on the other, has guaranteed Fabindia a po-ol of talent that is unrivalled.
The company has also tried to initiate community outreach programmes in these areas by building schools and providing quality education.
The official said the company had worked with clusters and design developers in Assam and Nagaland to add variety to its products.
Sources said though handicrafts of this region were of good quality, utilitarian in nature and diverse in range, they have not gained access to the markets in other Indian or overseas markets. The crafts of this region also suffer because of logistics — difficult terrain and prohibitive cost of transportation of the predominantly voluminous products.
In fact, the Centre is toying with the idea of having a dedicated scheme for handicrafts in the region. It will also try to provide adequate infrastructure support for improved quality and productivity and to give entrepreneurs and artisans access to a larger market at both domestic and international level.
The working group constituted by Planning Commission for the handicrafts sector during the Twelfth Plan has recommended setting up of Northeast handicrafts and handmade textiles clusters as centres for excellence with well-integrated forward and backward linkages.
According to the projections made by the working group, handicrafts exports from Northeast by the end of Twelfth Plan should earn Rs 1,500 crore while domestic earning should be Rs 2,500 crore.