Meet 5 manufacturers that took Made in India carpets to the global stage

Carpet weaving in India dates back to the 16th century and today, the country is one of the largest exporters of carpets. SMBStory charts the journey of five companies at the forefront of this business.
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India-made carpets and rugs are popular worldwide. Despite the tough competition from countries such as China, Turkey, Iran, and others, the carpet exports increased from Rs 4.42 crore in 1961-62 to Rs 13,810 crore in 2020-21, according to the Carpets Exports Promotion Council. 

Carpet weaving in India dates back to the 16th century and today, the industry employs more than 20 lakh rural artisans, including women. 

This week SMBStory has curated a list of five carpets and rugs manufacturers who have taken Made-in-India carpets to the international market. 

Jaipur Rugs

In the early 1970s, Nand Kishore Chaudhary’s father ran a shoe shop in Churu, a small district in Rajasthan. When Nand Kishore joined the family business after completing his graduation in 1975, the venture was incurring losses. 

So, he decided to shut shop. 

While searching for work, he refused an opportunity to work at a bank and instead kept scouting for bigger and better opportunities. He had a vision of running his own business someday. 

Around the same time, a friend suggested he try his hand in the carpet industry, which was then an upcoming sector in India. Nand Kishore saw potential in the idea. 

He borrowed Rs 5,000 from his father to launch Jaipur Rugs in 1978.

There was no looking back after that.

Nand Kishore’s son and second-generation entrepreneur Yogesh Chaudhary, Director of the Jaipur Rugs Group, tells SMBStory how his father got the business up and running, and managed to stay relevant through the years.

Today, the business employs more than 40,000 weavers and artisans from 600 villages across the country. It owns about 7,000 looms, and according to the financials of the company, it reported over Rs 142 crore revenue in FY20.

Yogesh highlights that 85 percent of the company’s revenues come from international markets. Jaipur Rugs exports to over 60 countries, including the US, Japan, the Middle East, Germany, South Africa, and Brazil, among others. 

Read the full story here.

The Rug Republic

Since childhood, Aditya Gupta had an interest in the carpets and rugs industry. His parents, JK Gupta and Meenakshi Gupta started making carpets at their home in Meerut in 1983 when Aditya was studying in Class X. 

Eight years later, after completing his education at the IIT Roorkee and FMS Delhi, he joined the business along with his brother Ashish Gupta. The company came to be known as Sharda Exports. 

Aditya tells SMBStory, “My parents did the hard work of getting something off the ground. They took the business from zero to five, which is the most crucial stage.”

The business had been largely selling in the domestic market. The opportunity to expand came when they got a chance to showcase their collection in one of the exhibitions in Germany, entering the global market in 1991. 

Aditya says the start was small but nevertheless, it contributed significantly in the years to come. One of their first international clients includes Swedish furniture giant IKEA and UK-based household furnishings brand Habitat.

The year 2013 was a turning point for the company when it decided to leverage the power of branding. It renamed itself The Rug Republic

“The handmade rugs industry is not so crowded with brands in India. So we have an opportunity here if we brand ourselves right,” he says.

Today, The Rug Republic manufactures five lakh carpets every year and also exports to 85 countries across the globe. Aditya doesn’t reveal the turnover but adds that the company’s growth rate is around 20 percent year-on-year. The business has an exclusive store in Delhi and has more than 10,000 retail touchpoints worldwide.

Read the full story here.

Kaleen India

Until 1994, Radhe Rathi was involved in his family’s textile business, handling its exports arm. But due to some family differences, he decided to move out.

Radhe, who had been living and working in the US, and exploring avenues outside the textiles industry, saw an opportunity in the rugs market when a trading project accidentally fell into his hands. His experience in textiles enabled him to explore the opportunity further. Moreover, carpets seemed like a good break. Radhe tells SMBStory.

“The garment industry is extremely unstable because of the shelf life of a garment. Carpets, however, are more sustainable as they last longer.” 

In 1996, he established Kaleen India, a rug manufacturing and selling business. Although he started out with trading rugs in the overseas markets, the company gradually moved into manufacturing.

In 2000, Radhe’s younger brother, Monty Rathi (COO of Kaleen Group), joined the business and the duo shifted base from the US to Mumbai and set up manufacturing units in Panipat, Mirzapur, and Bikaner.

Today, Radhe divides his time between the US and India. The Kaleen Group has four subsidiaries under it, three Indian and one in the US, including Kaleen Lifestyle Ltd., Kaleen Loomwork, Marudhar Fashions (textile manufacturing arm for floor covering and space decor) and Kaleen US, which is a distribution arm headquartered in Dalton, Georgia.

In FY20, the group clocked a turnover of Rs 250 crore.

Read the full story here.

Saraswati Global

In the 1970s, Mahesh Choudhary, Founder and Chairman of Saraswati Global Pvt. Ltd capitalised on the popularity of Indian rugs. 

Saraswati Global, which is now recognised as one of the leading manufacturers of carpets in India, exports to around 20 countries. 

Mahesh was in his twenties when he decided to explore the rugs market. Hailing from a business background where he was already helping his father, Mahesh knew the ropes. In 1978, he started working as a contract manufacturer for other export firms located in Rajasthan that were selling rugs to countries outside India.

He started with a handful of artisans and worked in contract manufacturing for about eight years. By this time, Mahesh had developed an understanding of the industry which led him to start his own venture, Saraswati Global. 

“We started with the German market as starting an export business from India to Germany was easy. Then gradually we expanded to other countries and today the US is our biggest market followed by the UK, Europe, and the Middle East,” Mahesh tells SMBStory

As per the Registrar of Companies, Saraswati Global Private Ltd recorded a revenue of Rs 22 crore in FY 20-21. 

Read the full story here.

Yak Carpet

Delhi-based Yak Carpet exports to around 30 countries. 

Started in 1976 by Harash Talwar, today the company manufactures and exports carpets to Australia, the UK, the US, and other countries. SMBStory spoke to second-generation entrepreneur, Sakshi Talwar, Director of Ecommerce and Overseas Operations, Yak Carpet, about the journey of the brand. 

“Yak Carpet has been in existence for more than 42 years now. It was started by my father, Harash Talwar, in 1975 after he returned from Germany. He dabbled in various jobs in Germany and ultimately ended up working for a carpet company. Here, he fell in love with the art and craftsmanship."

When Harash came back to India, he decided to start Yak Carpet to empower Indian weavers and artisans, and introduce Indian craftsmanship to a global audience.

Read the full story here.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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