FINEOTEX is one of the leading manufacturers of chemicals for textiles, construction, water treatment, fertilizer and leather, and the paint industry. Fineotex manufactures and provides an entire range of products for the Pre-treatment Process, Dyeing Process, Printing Process, and Finishing processes for textile processing to customers across the globe. Since 2011, Fineotex has had a technical collaboration with a well-known European founded specialty chemical manufacturing company, Biotex.
Sanjay holds a strong understanding of the Company and the textile chemical industry. Owing to his in-depth knowledge of products and understanding of market dynamics, he has been able to shape the Company as a successful, professionally managed enterprise. The specialty chemical industry is moving out of the pandemic lull. Set to clock a CAGR of 12.4% over the next five years.
Sanjay Tibrewala, Executive Director of Fineotex Chemical Limited in conversation with MediaNews4U on the Indian Textiles industry, the innovations, and the way forward…
What does the next year in the post-Covid era look like?
If I have to answer in one word, it looks: exciting. But the long explanation is that despite all the challenges that we faced during the pandemic, we clocked fantastic performance. Our teams were agile and we immediately forayed into the hygiene and antiviral and antimicrobial portfolio as we saw a growing need due to COVID. We have recorded phenomenal sales in that segment. Our performance, despite these unprecedented times, was something we take pride in. Recently and in the near future, we have interesting announcements lined up that are going to be essential as we move into the next wave of Covid-19 and then phase the pandemic out slowly and completely. Looking further ahead, as India moves into the trillion-dollar economy club, the chemical industry is going to play a vital role. We aim to be the front-runners for achieving that goal.
But for a long time, European multinationals dominated the Indian textile specialties market. How has Fineotex Chemical carved its niche in this highly competitive space?
If you look at the 80s and the 90s, European players dominated this space in India and enjoyed margins up to 400 percent on the products. This was the time when the textile industry was getting competitive and could not match the pricing of MNCs and as a result, the international brands started to shy away from the Indian market. The companies like Ciba,, BASF, ICI, Bayer divested their textile specialty businesses. Our organization initially was a contract manufacturer of these chemicals for some of the international brands who procured these from us and sold it under their brand name in Indian as well as global markets. But those times are behind us now.
We saw this as a window of opportunity to enter the market with our own brand name and that helped us establish our customer and distribution network. When I look back at our journey, in the last 15 years, especially from 2005 – 2010, we were trying to promote our products to textile companies across India. This was a difficult period as we were trying to create our own niche space in the industry. Although we had an abundance of experience, our brand did not have its own identity in the market.
Second, the risk of changeover of specialty chemicals for textiles is very high as compared to the rewards or cost savings. These were two big challenges for us to move our chemistries into this very solution-driven textile industry. Gradually we developed our distributor and customer base and started receiving very good responses from textile manufacturers. After the initial hiccups, I am delighted to share that our key customers include the biggest names in the textile industry in India like Raymonds, Vardhman, Reliance, Bhilwara, Welspun, and more. Globally we have been directly supplying to the textile industry in countries like Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia after we stopped supplying to our European clients.
You have set very high ambitions for your company. Looking forward, what are the plans that Fineotex has?
Our canvas is huge. You can very well say our workplace is a laboratory. We love to work with chemistry, which we have done for so many decades, and we continuously try to find more avenues in our research facilities. We are bringing multiple values and products for the textile industry at the same time as we are doing the reactions of polymerization, which we do homopolymer, terpolymer, phenylacetate, butyl, acrylic, styrene acrylic, italic acid, italic hydrate, sulphonations, esterification, condensations, etc. In addition to performance chemicals for the textile industry, which is our mainstay, we also supply specialties to the healthcare and hygiene sector and drilling fluids for the upstream oil and gas sector. There are many chemicals that can be applied to cleaning and hygiene polymers. There are about 40 new products that we have launched for housekeeping and kitchen and have started selling them through our newly established network of distributors and marketing team. Last year we received the FDA certification (Maharashtra State) for cleaning and hygiene business which is a milestone for us. In the home care segment, we offer polymers for detergents, which is again one of the key areas of our future growth. We have partnered with Johnson Diversey for R&D and started this activity in a major way. We also offer drilling specialties for building viscosity for the oil field drilling chemicals.
You recently tied up with your alma mater for research and development. Will we see some interesting products from there?
Absolutely, there is nothing more gratifying than going back to my campus and giving back, to enrich the lives of so many students there. I completed my technical textile and chemical education at the prestigious Sasmira Institute. We are grateful to the Sasmira management for their support in allowing us to develop and undertake R&D activities that will benefit the textile industry and our customers globally. Keeping in line with our overarching vision of sustainability, we will develop a first-of-its-kind Support and Solution Centre for technical service in Sasmira to catalyze innovation and focus on sustainable chemistry. This will aid the textile and chemical industry in the next phase of growth with a focus on greener products and sustainable practices.
The R&D center will focus on new sustainable solutions and chemicals to reduce water, time, and energy consumption for the textile wet processing industry. In the long run, there will be a substantial reduction in the negative impact of process chemicals to the environment, through alternative user-friendly chemical options and process optimization. This will prove beneficial for textile companies looking to seek advice and assistance on their requirements in the textile wet process. Our team at Fineotex and Biotex, Malaysia, shall support and assist companies with the latest technologies and best practices. This collaboration will also provide much-needed exposure for students and help provide practical experience, which will benefit the industry in the long term. They will also receive a certificate of recognition from Fineotex.