If TT is today a household name for inner wear and casual wear in India and has strong presence in 65 countries, it is the result of five decades’ struggle for perfection, innovation and tuning with the time. It is a model for young entrepreneurs how to start, how to grow and how to make an impact
Rikhab C Jain Chairman
The brand doesn’t just produce cotton or make yarn or produce fabric, or make a wide range of inner and outer wear, it touches millions of lives across the world through our more than 500 products. TT is the first knitwear company which was listed in the Bombay Stock Exchange in 1990. It also led the hosiery and knitwear industry at world fora. During this journey I have deeply realised that those who follow the ethics, work hard, generate goodwill and win the trust of their stakeholders definitely enjoy the fruits of success. What I am today is become of dedicated people who have been walking with me shoulder to shoulder in this journey for five decades.
Early life and Upbringing
My childhood passed like any ordinary kid. After having education upto tenth standard from the Shiksha Chopra High School in Bikaner, Rajasthan, I graduated in commerce from St Xavier’s College of Calcutta in 1964. I received full affection from my teachers both in Bikaner and Calcutta. Many of them are still in my touch. When I was in college, a new subject, Secretarial Practice, was introduced. Since there was no textbook available on the subject, my class notes were published in the form of a textbook, and the university taught them for two years. After finishing Company Secretaryship, I did MBA in Marketing and Business Management from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. I had been selected at IIM Ahmedabad too, but we opted for Calcutta only as the family then lived there. Impressed with my performance at IIM, the College administration proposed me to start teaching at the college. But due to my interest in business I declined the proposal. Even then, on request of the Director, I taught for three years from 1967 to 1980 as visiting professor. During those days I also studied the possibility of export to Japan, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand under USAid project. In my entire life, I never applied for any job. I used the management skills that I learnt from different institutions, to expand my own business.
Entry into Business
Since business is in our blood, I have been closely associated with the family business even when I was studying in school at Bikaner. The name of our company then was Tarun Taxtile. The family’s Hosiery Business, which began from Calcutta in 1950, was divided in 1970 and I formed TT Industries and Tirupati Textiles. In 1978, the TT Group incorporated into a corporate body as “Tirupati Texknit Limited” and the first knitting factory was started in Ghaziabad, UP. The Company’s name was changed to TT Ltd in 1998.
I firmly believe that business is practical education and one can learn much while doing it practically. Even the faculty members having industrial experience are seen more influential in the educational institutions. The experiments of internship, summer training and summer jobs are popular now only to impart practical knowledge to the students so that they can mould themselves according to the changing needs of the industry. I feel if the industry and academia work together we can prepare good human resources. The Start Up scheme launched by Prime Minister Shri Modi is a good initiative to make the youth job creators not merely job seekers.
I lost nothing in my business life, as we never suffered loss. We have done many experiments in the industry. We made garments, cloth, produced yarn, processed fiber from cotton and then started export. About two third of our business is based on export.
We led the hosiery and textile industry at different Indian and world fora. We organised exhibitions on behalf of the industry. We led the centenary celebration by hosiery industry. We also organised a big international conference of knitting industry in India, which was inaugurated by the then Vice President of India Shri R Venkatraman. One of my books based on my experiences in the industry was forwarded by the then Commerce Minister PA Sangama and was released by Shri R Venkatraman.
Today the turnover of TT is over Rs 1,000 crore. Our products have reached every State of the country. The experience of export has been highly encouraging. My specialisation in international marketing helped us a lot in playing a pioneering role in export. Export helped us hugely in expanding our business. We had offices in five countries for some time. We also ran a company in Singapore. Today also we have representatives in many countries. I feel every businessman of the country should join export, as it helps the country become prosperous.
My Fair Deal Practices
We produce about 500 items in garments. Apart from it, we also sell agro-commodities, etc. We also produce animal feed. We also did automobile financing for some time. TT Limited is vertically integrated textile group with one ginning factory, four spinning mills, two ultra modern knitting units and garmenting units all across India.
TT is the first knitwear company listed in the Bombay Stock Exchange. Our public issue was subscribed nine times more and we used that funds to purchase lands for spinning mill and also machines for the Mill. The public fund helped us hugely to expand our business. During this 25 years journey in the BSE nobody ever got a chance to raise finger at us. We never interfered in the share market. This is our image, which basically shaped our goodwill and the brand.
My success mantra
My success mantra is the same as has been of any successful man—long term planning, stick to ethics, focus on justice, maintaining quality at any cost, etc. I believe that one’s behaviour and trust contribute hugely in business. If people do not trust, you can neither do business nor earn goodwill. There are innumerable people who have not seen our face, but deposit crores of rupees in our bank account in advance. You earn such a goodwill when you follow fair trade practices. People may not know us by our names but they recognise us anywhere through TT. In this way, the brand has overtaken our personality. We are known by our business and the fair dealings not by our own names or the names of our ancestors.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
Sacredness of the mediums must be maintained at any cost. The habit that if I do any wrong it is okay, if others do wrong that is unpardonable, cannot work. Ethics and fairness in our actions should be maintained in all circumstances. I have seen many youth getting ruined in the greed of fast money by following unfair means in trade. Unfair dealing and unethical means lead to nowhere.
(As told to Pramod Kumar)