Cover story Technical Textile

A Story Of Resilience-How The Welspun Group Rose To The Forefront Of Advanced Textile Business

Widely known as the finest and most reliable home textile manufacturer of India, the Welspun group has dedicated itself to providing its customers with advance non-woven fabric solution to help make hygiene, personal care, femcare, filtration, protective apparel and composites perform seamlessly. As a recognised industry leader, the business employs more than 26,000 people from different regions, racial groups, and cultural backgrounds in more than 50 countries and has been the recipient of numerous accolades over the years, including the Exceed award for environmental preservation and the prestigious Golden Bird Excellence award. Their vast global network has enabled the group to leverage commercial relationships with a prestigious clientele.

Welspun’s foray into Advanced textiles began in 2010 with the introduction of their thermo-bond nonwoven line, which was found to have a variety of applications, mainly in the production of comforters and mattresses. By the year 2017, the company added to their portfolio, the Spunlace machine and Needlefelt machine, opening a myriad of segments that the company would enter, including cosmetics, and hygiene. This trio of machinery- Thermobond, Spunlace and Needlepunch technology and the importance given towards product development and up-scaling their production capabilities have today become the bedrock of the Welspun Groups success. Currently boasting a diverse range of non-woven products, and their ‘Multi-Layer Composite Filter Media and Method of Making Same’ (patented in both India and Europe), Welspun Group currently caters to a range of applications including, but not limited to the manufacture of hygiene, Femcare and personal care products, industrial cleaning apparatus disposables, medical disposables, artificial leather substrate, and filtration systems substrates (automotive & industrial).

The Welspun Group has dedicated the better part of the last decade towards developing Spunlace blends and structures, to specifically cater to the hygiene segment which currently has a wide presence in both Indian and European markets. Functionality and customer specificity being their highest priorities have served to only further the trust their consumer base has in them, which in turn, motivates them to continue to develop newer kinds of material and to seek out different kinds of consumer bases they can reach out to with their products. Owing to their credible portfolio in businesses such as home textile and line pipes, the Welspun group has earned a wide and distinct brand recall in both markets. The key to their business, lies in the vision to produce future focused value-added products, which enables them to retain their leading position in the realm of advanced textiles. The company is capable of processing all known varieties of cellulosic fibres, including cotton, bamboo, viscose, and lyocell. Welspun is also equipped with cutting edge downstream after-treatment capabilities which can produce anti-microbial finishes, dyed-printed–coated fabrics, and CSC products. However, one of the companies major unique selling points, lies in their ability to craft uniquely engineered and customized products for their customers. They are also capable of producing the finest Spunlace fabrics in India, having developed a line of hygiene and femcare products that range between 100% cotton to multi-component blends. Additionally, they have a strong focus on ESG initiatives, and aspire to improve their performance across conventional rating standards, which will contribute towards earning them the trust of progressive minded, large brands and MNC’s.

In terms of production capacity, Welspun Advanced Textiles has approximately half a billion square metres of Spunlace manufacturing capacity spread across two units located at Anjar and Hyderabad. The unit at Anjar being their oldest facility, currently operates with full capacity utilization, while their Hyderabad unit having been installed a few months ago, is expected to demonstrate progressive growth in the upcoming quarters. Currently, the company’s versatile Needlepunch and Thermobond layout enables them to produce up to 3000 metric tons per annum. A significant portion of their disposable products, particularly in the wet wipes segment have been the subjects of great demand in European and American markets. Strong research and development and collaboration with MNC’s has enabled Welspun to earn a higher business share in these markets. Additionally, their ability to run cellulosic fibres has enabled them to provide quality alternatives to their customers in the European Union, who are subject to the Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive.

While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused large demand-supply imbalances for many business segments, the Welspun group was in fact, positively affected due to the roaring demand for disinfectant products, particularly sanitary wipes. Despite geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine, energy crises, impending inflation, and the post pandemic ripple effect, the Spunlace business shows stable growth prospects over the next 3-4 years. However, there is a notable rise in demand for acceptable biodegradable substitutes, especially in the category of disposable products which the company will adapt to meet in the coming years.

Technical textiles have been an increasingly hot topic in recent years, with the market in India having accelerated significantly in this segment over the last 5 years demonstrating a steady growth pace of 8% per annum. To encourage growth in this sphere, the Indian governments National Technical Textiles mission was launched in February 2020 in order to further promote the technical textile segment and push the annual growth to a range of 15-20%. Indeed, the technical textile trade balance, which was negative up until 2021, turned positive (Rs 1,767 crores) in the financial year 2020-21 as a result of this initiative. A majority of India’s exports during the year 2020-21 consisted of PPE kits, N-95 masks and surgical masks. Moreover, in September 2021 the Indian government approved a Production Linked Initiative (PLI) scheme worth Rs 10,683 for domestic technical textiles firms and manufacturers of fabrics and apparel in segment of man-made fibres, provided such firms make a specific investment in greenfield projects and achieve stipulated turnover. Government initiatives that are dedicated to ensuring that the textile industry thrives in India will eventually lead to India becoming one of the most prominent textile hubs in the globe, in forthcoming years.

An unwavering focus towards investing in the advanced textile business has come to define Welspun as a company. Their latest installation at Hyderabad has been designed with provisions made for upgradation and retro fitment so as to accommodate future technological advancements. Welspun aims to expand their global presence and are committed to establishing new supply lines, in order to provide an alternative to China for their global clients. Displaying resiliency, during uncertain times while staying committed to their principles of innovation is believed to be, by those at Welspun, a hallmark of a sustainable business. Their game plan has been formulated in such a way that it continues to enhance their business drivers, increase their standing in the global industry and create value for both their stakeholders and society at large. Their installations have the ability to adequately meet rising demand, bringing in a revenue of almost a thousand crores (INR). In the forthcoming years, the Welspun Group wishes to place a strong importance on consolidating their status as a prominent and trusted partner in the global nonwoven market while retaining their focus on value added and customized products.

We take pride in providing the best to our stakeholders. Our Four Principles- Customer Centricity, Technology & Innovation, Collaboration and Inclusive Growth define and direct Welspun Advanced Textiles to create a better future.

– Cherian Kenneth Thomas