Raymond Ltd. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Raymond Ltd.

Plot 156/H No. 2
Zadgaon Ratnagiri
415 612

Company Perspectives

Excellence is a way of life at Raymond that has been manifested in all our endeavours over our entire history. These endeavours have been translated into designing and developing products of international standards, delivering enhanced values through brand building, distribution and customer relationship. Raymond today, is a culmination of untiring human efforts based on the fabric of values.

History of Raymond Ltd.

Raymond Ltd. is one of India's, and the world's, leading producers of worsted fabrics, claiming some 60 percent of the Indian worsted suiting market. The company's Textiles division, which accounts for 50 percent of group turnover, produces more than 25 million meters of wool and wool-blended fabrics each year, placing the company at number three worldwide. Raymond is a major supplier to the global textile industry, providing fabrics and completed garments to more than 50 countries, including the North American, European, Middle East, and Japanese markets. The company is also a major fabric innovator, and is one of just two or three manufacturers in the world capable of producing the Super 210s and Super 220s grades of pure wool, made from 13.2 micron and 12.69 micron wool, respectively. In the mid-2000s, Raymond also has been investing heavily in the production of denim; in 2005, the company raised its installed capacity to more than 30 million meters of ring denim, and boosted capacity by another ten million meters in early 2006. Denim sales accounted for 15 percent of group sales in 2005.

Raymond has long been an integrated textiles group, including production of its own branded clothing--under the Raymond, Parx, and Manzoni names--as well as retail distribution through an India-wide network of more than 320 stores, including nearly 20 Be designer clothing stores. The company also acquired ColorPlus in 2004, giving it control of one of India's leading casualwear brands. Garment sales contributed more than 20 percent of the company's sales in 2005. Other Raymond operations include a 50 percent stake in the J.K. Ansell joint venture, which produces condoms under the Kama Sutra brand. Raymond also controls J.K. Files & Tools, the world's leading producer of files and rasps. Raymond itself is the flagship of the Singhania Group, a chemicals producer. The company is led by CEO Gautam Hari Singhania, great-grandson of the company's founder. Raymond is listed on several stock exchanges in India, including the Mumbai (Bombay) Stock Exchange.

Branching into Textiles in the 1920s

Raymond stemmed from the founding of the Wadia Woollen Mill along the Thane creek in Maharashtra, near Bombay, in the early part of the 20th century. The mill was later acquired by a wealthy industrialist family, the Sassoons, who were based in Bombay. The Sassoons reincorporated the company as Raymond Woollen Mill in 1925. Raymond's production was at the time limited to coarse woolen blankets and low-priced wool fabrics.

The Singhania family entered Raymond's picture in the 1940s. Led by Juggilal Singhania and his son Kamlapat Singhania, the Singhanias had been building their own industrial empire, the J.K. Group of companies, in the Kanpur region. Although involved in a number of activities, chemicals, particularly the production of textile dyes, became something of a family focus. In the 1940s, the family, then led by Kailashpat Singhania, grandson of the company's founder, began looking for further expansion possibilities, particularly in the Bombay area. The company's interest turned to the textile sector, a natural extension of its other operations. In 1944, the Singhanias purchased the Raymond Woollen Mill, keeping its name, and building it into one of the most well-known names in the Indian textile and clothing industry.

Kailashpat Singhania became determined to raise the mill's production beyond its cheap woolen blankets, and began investing in technology improvements through the 1950s. While the company continued to produce blankets, it introduced new wool grades and colors. At the same time, Raymond launched its own research and development to create new wool-based fabrics. This effort resulted in the launch of the company's first new wool type, Terool, a wool-blended yarn, in 1958.

That year also marked Raymond's first venture into the retail market. In 1958, the company opened its first showroom, in Mumbai in the J.K. Building. The first store was called King's Corner. The company's publicity efforts in the 1950s and into the 1960s, based on the "Chess King" motif, reflected the group's focus on a higher-end, upwardly mobile market. Later, in the 1960s and into the 1970s, the company adapted its advertising for the times, shifting its advertising focus to an "ordinary man" character. The company later enjoyed advertising success with its "Guide to the well dressed male" in the 1980s, which was followed by the launch of a new campaign, for "The Complete Man" in the 1990s and 2000s. The company later changed its retail store name to Raymond Shops. By the 2000s, there were more than 320 Raymond shops in operation in more than 150 cities.

In the late 1960s, Raymond's research and development effort paid off again, with the launch of a new fabric type, Trovine, in 1968. The material represented a breakthrough in the wool industry, providing a lightweight fabric for cooler garments and enabling wool to be worn year-round, including during the hot Indian summers. In the meantime, Raymond, which remained focused especially on the textile market, moved to boost its operations in the clothing sector, founding subsidiary Raymond Apparel in 1969. From this beginning, the Raymond-branded line became one of the biggest-selling clothing brands in India.

Industrial Group in the 1980s

The arrival of a new generation of Singhanias at the head of the family empire signaled a new era for the company. Vijayapat Singhania, who formally took over the company in 1980, became credited with developing the company into a modern, industrial group. The company's new strategy involved building its capacity and its technology to become a world-class textile producer. The company took a first step in this direction in 1979, when it began construction of a new factory in Jalgaon. The company added a third mill, in Chindwara, in 1992. By the 2000s, Singhania's production had topped 25 million meters of worsted fabric per year, placing it as one of the world's top three producers.

While continuing to target growth in the textile sector, Vijayapat Singhania became determined to develop Raymond into a diversified industrial conglomerate. The company entered the cement production market, and later added a unit producing files and rasps, developing that business, J.K. Files & Tools, into a world leader. In 1984, the company added the manufacture of automobile components, later brought together into Ring Plus Aqua Limited, in a joint venture with Osaka Pump Company of Japan, in 1998.

Yet textiles remained at Raymond's heart. In 1985, the company extended its reach in the clothing sector with the launch of the Park Avenue brand. That line initially consisted of formalwear, including suits, jackets, trousers, shirts, woolen knitwear, and accessories. In 1986, the company expanded the Park Avenue line to include a range of ready-to-wear business clothing. The Park Avenue brand was later broadened with the addition of a casualwear range, under the Parx label, introduced in 1999. The company also took its first step on the international retail scene, opening its first foreign Raymond shop, in Oman, in 1990.

At the same time, Raymond maintained its technological edge, introducing a number of new fabric types in the 1990s. These included the superfine pure wool collection, Lineage, in 1995, which was followed by the Renaissance collection in 1996, featuring merino wool blended with polyester and other specialty fibers. The company added extra-fine cashmere and merino wool blends, called the Chairman's Collection, in 1999. In 2000, Raymond debuted its PV Lycra-based suiting material as well. Then in 2003 and 2004, the company became one of only two or three manufacturers in the world capable of producing the new Super 210s and Super 220s grades of wool.

Raymond in the meantime had begun production of apparel of a different sort. In the early 1990s, the company, through subsidiary J.K. Chemicals, launched production of Kama Sutra-branded condoms. In 1996, Raymond merged its condom production into a new joint venture company, J.K. Ansell. The company's partner in the new operation was Ansell International, one of the world's leading producers of latex-based condoms, gloves, and other products.

By then, too, the company's diversified interests had led it to enter the steel industry. In 1995, the company formed a technical partnership with Allegheny Ludlum Corp., based in the United States, to produce high value-added and specialty cold-rolled close annealed and silicon steel products. For this effort, the company set up a plant at Igatpuri. The company invested heavily in boosting its production, and by 1999, the steel division accounted for 20 percent of Raymond's total revenues.

In the meantime, the company's interests in diversified businesses had taken it to the skies, literally. In 1996, the company formed a new Aviation division, and launched its own air charter service, Million Air. That company then built up a small fleet, including an executive jet and three helicopters.

Refocusing on Textiles in the 2000s

Vijayapat Singhania retired in 2000, making way for his son, Gautam Hari Singhania. The younger Singhania followed in the family's tradition by immediately steering Raymond into a new direction. In the early 2000s, Singhania restructured the company, selling off most of its diversified interests, including its cement division and, in 2002, its steel operations, to refocus the company as a clothing and textiles business.

Another Raymond textiles operation took center stage at the start of the 21st century, as the company moved to boost its production of denim, and especially high-quality ring denim. Part of this expansion was directed to the launch of the Parx brand in 1999, which featured denim clothing in its collection. The bulk of the group's denim production, however, was meant to fuel the booming global demand for the fabric. Into the mid-2000s, the company launched a strong expansion effort, boosting its denim production capacity to 16 million tons annually.

The ending of export quotas by the World Trade Organization at the beginning of 2005 encouraged Raymond to boost its denim production still further. The company launched a new investment effort, driving up production past 30 million tons by the end of that year. Further investments were expected to boost the group's total denim production capacity to more than 40 million tons by early 2006. Already, the company had begun to position itself for further growth in its international sales, buying out Regency Textile Portuguesa Limitada in 2003. That acquisition gave the company production facilities both in Portugal and in Spain, forming the launch pad for the group's expansion into the European market.

While textile production remained a centerpiece of Raymond's operations, the company's focus fell especially on its determination to transform itself into a leading producer of brand name clothing. As part of this effort, the company launched a new luxury brand, Manzoni. The company supported this launch with the opening of an exclusive Manzoni retail showroom in New Delhi in 2005. Raymond also opened its first Park Avenue shops that year.

In the meantime, the company had continued to develop its brand family, notably with the acquisition of ColorPlus in 2003. That purchase gave the company control of one of India's leading casualwear brands to supplement the Parx brand, which had been struggling to gain a significant share of the Indian market. More successful for the group was its launch of the Be retail designer clothing collection in 2002. By 2005, the company had opened 16 Be stores and had attracted a number of India's prominent designers. Raymond had become one of the most prominent names in the Indian and global textile industries.

Principal Subsidiaries

Celebrations Apparel Limited; ColorPlus Fashions Limited (75%); Everblue Apparel Limited; Hindustan Files Limited; J.K. (England) Limited; J.K. Ansell Limited (50%); J.K. Helene Curtis Limited; Jaykayorg AG (Switzerland); P.T. Jaykay Files (Indonesia; 39.20%); Pashmina Holdings Limited; Plugin Sales Limited (60%); Raymond Apparel Limited; Regency Texteis Portuguesa, Limitada Portugal; Silver Spark Apparel Limited; Textiles Regency, Sociedad Limitada (Spain).

Principal Competitors

National Textile Corporation Ltd.; Rai Saheb Rekhchand Mohta Spg and Wvg Ltd.; Elgin Mills Ltd.; Ayyappan Textiles Ltd.; Super Polyfabriks Ltd.; APR Ltd.; Grasim Industries Ltd.; Howrah Mills Company Ltd.; Swan Mills Ltd.; Sree Valliappa Textiles Ltd.; Century Textiles and Industries Ltd.; Bombay Silk Mills Ltd.; Arvind Mills Ltd.; Maniyar Plast Ltd.; Birla Corporation Ltd.


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