Apparel makers are slowly resuming the productions of ready-made garments for the export markets even as they are facing making hurdles like cancellations and changes in orders, payment problems or lack of new orders. “About 15-20% of the over 8,000 apparel exporters in the country have resumed operation with 25-30% of their workforce,” said Narendra Goenka, managing director of Texport Industries and vice-chairman of Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC). With the limitation on workforce allowed, pending demand is more than the manufacturing capacity, said the manufacturers.

“Vietnam and Indonesia never shut down and are at an advantage. A complete lifting of the lockdown in low-risk areas is required, with mandated social distancing and sanitation norms, to ensure that Indian suppliers do not lose out on their export commitments,” said Siva Ramakrishnan Ganapathi, managing director of Gokaldas Exports. Many apparel makers have started opening some of their factories or parts of their factories with a partial workforce in April to make PPE kits, but now more factories are being opened and production has started to resume. With the lockdown in place due to COVID-19, many companies cancelled or delayed their orders, said the workers. Some orders were even in the middle of the production and the waste value was even less than one forth of the cost. According to industry estimates, between 15% and 25% of orders placed before the pandemic have been cancelled with companies invoking the ‘force majeure’ clause and not all have reimbursed their suppliers for the material loss. Indian apparel makers supply to some of the highest-selling fashion labels as well as retailers in the western world like PVH, H&M, Kohl, Banana Republic, Marks and Spencer, Walmart, and Target to name few. During FY20, Indian apparel makers exported ready-made garments worth almost Rs 1.1 lakh crore, according to AEPC. Export business upwards of $3 billion (Rs 22,650 crore) has been impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic because key European markets like Italy had gone into lockdown.