The industry managed the issue in January and February, but then global markets started shutting down, and from raw material uncertainty it went to demand uncertainty.
"We are now struggling to serve the orders we have. We are struggling to get workers, as there is no public transport. If we don't deliver the orders people may shift back to Indonesia or Vietnam, wherever there is capacity. We want to start operating more and get back to normal production", he said.
The company has most of its facilities in Karnataka and the state allowed to operate with capacity capped at 50 per cent.
For the first quarter, the company could not operate in April and has been operating at half or less than half the capacity since then as it has only 40 per cent of the workforce. More than 50 per cent of the first quarter is lost from a production standpoint, while order book has suffered 25-30 per cent hit.
The company is dependent mostly on local labour, but even then it is facing challenges to bring the required number of workers back to work. The local labourers might have gone back to their villages, and getting them back to work is a challenge. The company is working with the Karnataka government for passes to bring them back to Bengaluru.
"We are in the assumption that we will be able to operate at 100 per cent capacity in June", he added.
The company has worked with the Government of Karnataka to develop a detailed protocol for safety, sanitisation and people protection in the factory. From the biometric attendance registry, now it has moved to manual entry and is currently working on a QR Code on the employees' ID card.
Temperature checks and hands sanitisation have been made mandatory at the entry of the factory. The work stations are swapped every few hours; bathrooms are being cleaned every two hours; even the canteen has social distancing norms in place.
Internally, in the factory it has set up a committee which has overriding power over the operations, if there is some violation in the protocol.
In apparel, countries like Vietnam and Indonesia never stopped production despite the Covid-19 outbreak, while Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka went through a lockdown
While India has the potential to develop backward integrated high-quality fabric raw material as well by either attracting international players to set up shop in India or through Indian investors, it is a capital intensive business and there is a lot of work required to be done by the government and the industry. For the company, about 30 per cent is the import content now.