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HomeEconomyPatanjali to enter khadi market dominated by Fabindia and state-owned KVIC

Patanjali to enter khadi market dominated by Fabindia and state-owned KVIC

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Besides opening 100 exclusive retail outlets, it also plans to sell the brand through 15,000 KVIC stores.

New Delhi: The competitive khadi market is all set to get crowded as Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved is preparing to enter the sector, amid attempts by the state-owned Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to control and monopolise the market.

Patanjali plans to launch 100 exclusive retail outlets to sell its ‘swadeshi’ line of branded khadi clothes by Diwali this year. “We will sell khadi products including kurtis, suits and jackets at the Patanjali Khadi outlets to be opened by November, specifically in tier 2 and tier 3 cities,” Acharya Balkrishna, chief executive officer of Patanjali Ayurved, told ThePrint.

The company is set to stick to the same philosophy, it applies to its other business ventures, to market its khadi products — insisting that Indians should stick to ‘swadeshi’ and stop favouring foreign firms.

Patanjali’s foray into the market is expected to add muscle to KVIC, which is in the midst of a turf war with ethnic-wear retailer Fabindia and other smaller brands, in the market for handloom, hand-woven and hand spun khadi products.

Not only is Patanjali planning to join hands with KVIC to sell its products, the company has also made its displeasure at Fabindia’s dominance of the Indian khadi market quite plain.  “If khadi products are being sold by foreign companies like Fabindia in our country, it is the political murder of Mahatma Gandhi and his ideology,” Ramdev had said two years ago when Patanjali had launched its denims.

KVIC, the sole authority in the country for providing the khadi mark registration, has not yet received any proposal from Patanjali Ayurveda but said it had no opposition to the company’s plans. “Any company that plans to sell khadi products needs to take permission from KVIC. As of now, I have no information about Patanjali’s plans. We, however, welcome them into the industry,” said V.K. Saxena, chairman of KVIC.

A growing brand

Patanjali’s entry into the khadi market is in keeping with its policy of entering new sectors over the years since it first launched its medicines in 2006. The company has its hands in a number of pies, including having taken on established multinational companies in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market.

Its khadi clothes will fall under the apparel section, which it first announced for men, women and children in 2016.  “We are working with several handloom weavers in northern India with an agenda of reviving the khadi industry. Our khadi products will be cheapest of all, starting from as low as Rs 100,” Balkrishna said.

Just as in the other sectors, Patanjali will market its products as being of ‘swadeshi’ origin.  “We have always upheld the agenda of ‘swadeshi’ and by getting into the business of selling indigenous fabric we are extending our promise to support swadeshi. Khadi must be produced by Indians, for Indians at an affordable price. We shouldn’t wear the fabric produced by foreigners or foreign companies who sell it for profit motives,” Balkrishna added.

Apart from opening exclusive retail outlets, it also plans to sell the brand through the 15,000 KVIC outlets across the country.

In February, KVIC – a statutory body under the government of India tasked with the planning, promotion, organisation and implementation of programmes for the development of khadi – approached the Bombay High Court and sought Rs 525 crore from Fabindia for alleged unauthorised use of the ‘khadi’ mark. KVIC argues that the New Delhi-based firm had caused “irreparable loss, harm and damage to the goodwill associated with the ‘khadi’ trademark”.

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