Chairman VK Saxena talks about how brand Khadi is evolving and the organisation is overhauling their old marketing policy.
With sales worth Rs 813.86 crore between April and September this year, dressing up staff of PSUs across the country and tapping global avenues for Khadi in places like US, Dubai and Africa, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has notched up quite an impressive list of achievements. Chairman VK Saxena talks about how brand Khadi is evolving and the organisation is overhauling their old marketing policy.
You have completed 2 years of chairmanship with KVIC and Khadi, too, has seen a complete turnaround. What would you say have been the biggest achievements of KVIC in the last two years?
All across the world, the road to social evolution has taken different routes, but India stands as an apostle of innovation and social harmony where at every stage of its rich socio-cultural history, great minds have charted ingenious ways to take along every strata of society towards betterment. And it is where Khadi and Village Industries stands out as not only as a hallmark of the unique socio-cultural milieu of the nation where industrial development and its inherent conflicts find their most organic solutions in a vibrant heterogeneous culture. The grand gestures of our PM have definitely provided a major boost to KVIC and its initiatives and it reflects in the outputs, too.
Take Sewapuri Khadi Ashram – the erstwhile Centre of ‘swadeshi and swablamban’ of Gandhian era. It was in shambles. We revived and reopened it; as many as 500 local women got employment from the first day of its relaunching – when 250 solar charkhas and 100 solar looms started operating under a single roof.
It is a similar story in Pampore in Jammu and Kashmir and Kaziranga in Assam – where KVIC creates job opportunities for idle and deviating young minds – with its several schemes.
KVIC has even provided job opportunities for the tribal populace of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. We have also overhauled our old marketing policy. As a result, Khadi sales – which were of Rs 429.93 crore during April 2016 to September 2016, has witnessed a heavy growth of 89 percent in that same span of time in 2017, with Rs 813.86 crore during April 2017 to September 2017. But, the most satisfactory thing for me is that KVIC has distributed as many as 29,152 new charkhas – which is the basic tool of self-reliance in our country – in the last two years, which is a growth of 16558 percent as compared to two years’ regime of the earlier governance.
With a sales figure of Rs 2005 crore in FY17, brand Khadi is looking at touching a sales target of Rs 5000 crore by the end of FY19. How do you plan to touch that kind of a number?
We have taken several innovative marketing steps – both centripetally and centrifugally. While we have launched several schemes to promote and encourage our artisans, we are also tapping corporate players like Raymond, Arvind Mills and Peter England and PSUs like ONGC, REC, GAIL, JK White Cement, Air India, Railways, Department of Post and NTPC etcetera – to get major orders to enhance Khadi sales.
We are in regular touch with the several ministries and they had whole-heartedly supported our aim to achieve the stipulated target. Ministry of Health has recently made it mandatory to use Khadi products in all major government hospitals. To improve our input – that is production and sales, we have added as many as 326 new Khadi institutions in the last two years – with a growth rate of 196 percent.
We’ve heard of some excellent numbers. For instance, the sales in the Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan store in Delhi witnessed a record sale of Rs 1.2 crore on Dhanteras. What are the other big numbers we are looking at this year? Which stores have been the best performing ones?
Yes, on Dhanteras this year, the Khadi India outlet had created a record in one-day sales. Khadi Gramodyog Bhawan at Connaught Place had always been our model store. The stores in Delhi and the lounges at airports have also attracted the buyers and subsequently Mumbai and Bhopal stores have also witnessed a considerable growth.
KVIC has also bagged large orders from several public and private sector companies. Please elaborate on the biggest orders of the year.
It is true that the KVIC is regularly getting large orders from private and public sector organizations, of which a few important names have already mentioned above. Recently, a well-known hotel chain of India decided to adopt the Khadi uniform for its prestigious Goa property. Not only that, the Mangalore Refinery has also decided to give Khadi gift coupons recently to its 1700 employees worth Rs 2.30 crore.
Khadi gift coupons have gone down very well in the market and seen a tremendous increase in numbers. Could you elaborate on the sales figures and the spikes it has seen?
Khadi gift coupon scheme was launched in August 2016, with an aim to connect people with the national fabric Khadi. From April to September in 2016, the total sale of gift coupons was Rs 86 lakh. But, notably it reached Rs 5.85 crore during the same period in the next year, i.e. 2017. With this 580 percent mammoth increase, I am pleased to say that our gift coupon scheme is a major success.
You had a longstanding tussle with Fabindia over violating the Khadi mark. What is the status of the issue? How many private sector companies are the part of the Khadi mark initiative?
We have given legal notices to as many as 26 institutions including Fabindia, for violating the Khadi Mark regulations. It is our resolve to stop sale of counterfeit Khadi products as it is associated with the nationalism and public sentiments.
Tell us a little about your global expansion plans. Where do we see Khadi outside India and when do we get to see them?
Recently, the High Commission of Uganda invited me as KVIC Chairman to deliver a keynote address for tapping global avenues for Khadi. Not only that, the United States, the United Kingdom and Dubai have also expressed their utter desires to open Khadi India outlets in their respective cities.
Whats next for KVIC? What's on the cards for KVIC in the next 5 years?
Khadi and Village Industries Commission is one of those unique institutions in India that links the nation’s past, present and future on its functional plane, through self-reliance and sustainability. KVIC is committed to preserve the conscience of the nation even while making the rocketing growth. By the turn of this century, especially in the past few years, Khadi and the products of village industries have stood the test of immense social media glare and internet-based businesses where the whole world’s products are made accessible to all through finger tips.It is a tribute to the power of this timeless spirit of India and the eternal relevance of its core strength that Khadi is like a sage – who can adjust its role as per the need of the time – first it was for nation, then it became the fashion and now becoming a role model of transformation. Our Prime Minister has rightly observed that it can transform itself to the changing context; it can transform our lives through a unique blend of heritage and modernity; it can transform India through increasing rural productivity and sustainability and it can transform the lives of those who produce it and strive for self reliance.