Anupam Chakrabarty, MD, Lindstrom India, divulges that his company is now looking for new opportunities in tier I and tier II cities of India to expand its presence in healthcare segments like smaller clinics and diagnostic centres, in an interview with Prathiba Raju
Hygiene of the work environment and work wear is extremely important in the healthcare and pharma sectors. How does Lindstrom help ensure utmost hygiene?
As a business house, Lindstrom is completing 170 years of its existence next year. As for our operations in India, we started it in 2007 and our first unit was in Chennai. In India, we concentrate on two segments: one is pharma and other one is the food sector. We have our presence in 11 states which includes pharma industrial hubs of India like Baddi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Visakhapatanam. We have our facility in Assam as many pharma and FMCG companies are investing in the state. This is one segment where the hygiene levels are very critical and the standards of work wear are clearly compiled; there are lot of standards that exist. There are USFDA, MHRA audits so all the clients are subjected to some kind of external audits to some sort of external audits. So, a work wear company like Lindstrom has a huge role to play, 35 per cent of our business today is from the pharma sector. As far as health is concerned, it has two parts, one is the hospitals and the other is healthcare centres like clinics, diagnostic centres. As of now, our activities in the healthcare sector is focused on clinics and diagnostics, we are not formally getting down to the larger hospital chains as it needs a lot of compliance activities.
How important is the pharma sector for you?
We work with over 300 pharma companies in India. Earlier, many pharma companies used to buy the garments and have their own work wear and laundry, usually the APIs outsourced work wear. But now the scenario is changing, as most of the Indian pharma companies face hygiene and cleanliness issues. What looks clean might not be really clean. The work wear garments need to be not just clean but bacteria-free. If not, they might end up contaminating the product. So, we had to instill the concept of bacteria-free garments to the quality and production team of pharma companies. Explain to them that a person who is wearing the garment might also be contaminated by the clothes he/ she is wearing. For example; in the oncology facility, the fabric selection itself is very critical and they should be washed separately, as they might cross contaminate, so a separate infrastructure is needed. Many such intricacies were missed by the pharma companies and Lindstrom India fills this gap. We study the end application of the customer, and the working environment. Based on that, we recommend the product, servicing and testing of the product. Indian pharma sector is in an upgradation phase and it is one sector where the standards are continuously rising and the companies are asking for tracking of garments, clean room requirements. There are few pharma companies who are still in the traditional mode and do not outsource work wear.
Can you brief us about your expansion plans?
It is the tenth year of our existence in India. We have established 11 business units pan-India and we have ended up putting one or two units every year. We, as a global organisation, has set a vision for a five year period. As of now we are a 323 million euro company and trying to scale it to 500 million euros by 2020. In India, currently we have about 1.5 million garments in circulation and we want to double it by the year 2020. If we continue at the current pace, we should achieve 18 to 20 units by 2020. Till the time we achieve the critical mass of 100,000 garments in circulation in a particular location we do not establish a centre. Recently we started our 11th facility in Visakhapatnam.
What are the challenges you face among corporate hospitals clientele?
Healthcare is becoming big and has its own set of challenges. One of them is the high attrition rates and therefore there is work wear management. For example; if a corporate hospital appoints 1000 nurses you see atleast 200 nurses leaving every month. So, it requires that much additional management of work wear and it is not a small task, back-end management of work wear is quite
critical. So, currently we are concentrating more on the smaller health clinics, diagnostic centres as they don’t have a system in place for work wear management. We are trying to create a brand image for them and put in some basic hygiene practice. We are looking for new opportunities in tier I and tier II cities of India.
Is textile waste a challenge, when it comes to the healthcare and pharma sector?
During textile washing, especially in the pharma and healthcare segments, a lot of effluents are generated and it needs to be treated or disposed as per the standards prescribed. In Lindstrom, we have our own standards which are far higher than what the local standards indicate. It is one area where we work on significantly and we come out with a sustainability report every year. It specifies about the amount of water we use and the carbon footprints. We challenge ourselves every year, try to use less power and water consumption. We incinerate the waste produced in the pharma sector. But, in the food segment we try to recycle the waste. For example; fabric waste is recycled and made into sanitary napkins and supplied in rural areas via NGOs.