Tirupur was an obscure town once has now been placed in the knitwear map of global apart from catering to the whole India. The success story of Tirupur can be mainly attributed to the entrepreneurial skills of the people coupled with hard work and commitment to the job. Within two decades, the knitwear exports from Tirupur has grownup by leaps and bounds.
Chronological growth of Tirupur
The first knitwear unit in Tirupur was set up in 1925 and the growth of the industry was slow till late 1930s. A series of strikes in late 1930s in knitting factories in the neighbouring towns of Salem and Madurai resulted in the opening of new firms in Tirupur. Subsequently, it emerged as the prominent centre for knitwear in South India by 1940s. In 1942, 34 units were engaged in the production of knitwear all these units were composite mills and the production was carried out in the same unit (sic). There are also references to some units performing specific tasks / operations like bleaching and dyeing, located in the larger units. By 1961, the number of units rose to 230 and till early 1970s, the industry catered only to the domestic market. These units were mostly composite mills without any subcontracting system of production. It was in the 1980s, the export market began to expand and subsequently Tirupur emerged as the largest exporter of cotton knitwear from the country, accounting for roughly 80 percent of the total cotton knitwear exporters.
Commencement of Exports
Tirupur’s direct exports started with Italy. Verona, a garment importer from Italy came to Tirupur in 1978 through Mumbai exporters to buy white T-shirts. A lot of job workers were manufacturing garments for merchant exporters. He realised the potential and came to Tirupur the following year. Verona was the man who brought European business to Tirupur. On seeing the quality, others soon followed suit. In 1981 European retail chain C&A came. Gradually, other stores approached the exporters.
A handful of manufacturers exported garments worth Rs.15 crore in 1985. The next couple of year was a windfall for Tirupur as exports touched Rs.300 crore in 1990.
Role of TEA in development of exports and Tirupur
Tirupur Exporters’ Association popularly known as TEA was set up in the year 1990 under the leadership of Shri. A.Sakthivel. As on 1st November 2010, 690 knitwear exporters have registered as members.
In 1990, when TEA was formed Sakthivel had a vision for the knitwear industry – a billion $ exports in 1995, and achieved it by pursuing the goal with a missionary zeal, taking everything in his fold. His dream has been always to make Tirupur as a vibrant knitwear cluster under Global outsourcing for everything in knitwear.
Tirupur Exports from a meager Rs.10 crores in 1985 to Rs.5000 crores in 2003, and Rs.11,500 Crores in 2009-10 is a performance that has no parallel anywhere in the world.
The achievements of TEA
Shri. A.Sakthivel visualized the directions and dimensions of growth of knitwear sector sufficiently in advance, conceived, planned and executed massive projects to sustain the growth and retain the dominance in knitwear exports. The projects completed are:
- TIRUPUR EXPORT KNITWEAR INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX(TEKIC)
- INLAND CONTAINER DEPOT (ICD),
- TEA PUBLIC SCHOOL
- NEW TIRUPUR AREA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION LIMITED (NTADCL)
- NIFT–TEA KNITWEAR FASHION INSTITUTE
- INDIA KNIT FAIR (IKF)
- NETAJI APPAREL PARK
- TEA-St. JOHN LOGISTICS PVT. LTD.,
- TEA E-READINESS CENTRE
- TEXTILE ECO SOLUTIONS TAMIL NADU LTD.
TEA and the trade unions maintain a very good track record of working together to keep Tirupur region a peaceful working cluster.