Colorant: Catering to changing demands, a colour at a time

With its new range of sustainable products and investments in research and development, Colorant is leading the way to introduce revolutionary changes in the textile industry while getting into the lane for rapid growth. Ganesh Kalidas reports

Subhash Bhargava, Managing Director, Colorant Limited

Colorant Limited was formed by a group of visionaries who wanted to usher in a new way of doing business in the world of textiles. The company manufactures reactive dyes in a sustainable way, which is the need of the hour. The current pandemic, along with testing the patience and willpower of the textile industry players, has broadened their horizons about sustainability and its role in shaping the future. Hence, companies like Colorant have become of great importance to lead and inspire the required change within the industry.

Colorant commenced its journey to become a revolutionary player in dyes manufacturing in 1999. Initially a trading company, it evolved into a manufacturing unit after a year of establishment. As is said, high and low tides are part of everyone’s life, but what counts is how you emerge out of the water. The journey of Subhash Bhargava, Managing Director of Colorant Limited and the inception of this company have stood true to this philosophy and reality. Bhargava was initially working at DCM Delhi in the dyeing department post his graduation in textile technology.

Step by step, he gained valuable experience and when his former company Metrochem was taken over by Ciba (now Huntsman) he decided to pursue his passions by establishing Colorant with his colleagues. Says Bhargava: “Setting up Colorant was a real challenge, but just as rewarding. The team that started this company is still going strong and is an integral part of its daily operations.” Post 2003 the company expanded its operations and added facilities for the manufacturing of dyes. Presently it has five units, including the one taken on lease 20 years ago.

Production and Product Mix

The company’s production capacity is 500 metric tons of reactive dyes depending on the availability of product mix. Currently, it is operating at 70% of the production capacity owing to the pandemic. Colorant’s reactive dyes are predominantly used for dyeing of cellulosic fibres and natural fibres. It has the most versatile product range and according to Bhargava, their products can be used for a variety of processes and fabrics like yarn dyeing, printing, saree printing, denims, etc. To ensure superior quality of the products, the company has invested in a world-class laboratory, set up along with the first manufacturing unit of the company in 1999. As the technology upgrades, so does Colorant’s capacity to bring more advanced and sustainable products into the market.

Dealing with the Pandemic

In the initial stages of the pandemic, Colorant, like every other organisation, had to completely shut operations. Slowly, as the markets reopened, the company started exporting while production for the domestic markets was resumed. Through this entire process the company stayed in touch with their clients assuring them that when the business would restart, Colorant would be ready to initiate the supply chain, which is what has been done.

Although the situation resulted in a loss of potential clients, the company is adhering to government’s safety guidelines and moving steadily ahead. Colorant has maintained its position in the market as a one-stop destination for ethically produces dyes and is looking forward to restart working with its clientele in the domestic market. It is also waiting for business to regain pace in countries like Pakistan and Iran where the markets are still partially closed for Indian companies as a result of the pandemic and political reasons.

Being Environment Friendly

The current situation has shed light on the need for businesses to be responsible for the aftermath of production. The textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. Hence, some businesses like Colorant are taking special measures to ensure that the load on the environment can be reduced. First and foremost, all except two of Colorant’s production units are zero liquid discharge facilities and of all the units, two use PNG as fuel, the most sustainable fuel available. Secondly, Colorant’s product range is also sustainable. One such type of sustainable dye is called Colron SF which has better exhaustion and fixation. Ultimately, this reduces the amount of effluent produced and also helps to save water in the washing up process.

Another product series in this range is the Colron CN series which the company considers to be more sustainable than the normal bi-functional dyes in terms of water and energy usage, and overall effluent production. It is more sustainable than the previous products by a minimum of 20%. This range, which they have been offering for the past decade, has fluorine-based chemistry and a fixation percentage of 92% which makes this series sustainable as well. For the fluorine-based chemistry, the company has tied up with a Chinese company, ColoRoot. It is also associated with other intermediaries for different products.

After sourcing the products from these intermediate companies Colorant does the final processing of the products and markets them in the domestic and international markets under its own brand name. Colorant is a GOTS-certified company meaning that its production facilities, processes and sourced products are certified sustainable as per government regulations. The company is also labelled till the second level for ZDHC and has applied for the third level audit. Along with this, the employees are trained in a way that ensures their safety at work.

As Bhargava puts it, “Colorant was one of the first five Indian dyestuff companies to adhere to these standards and certifications. This ensures that our products are not harmful for the people involved in the manufacturing process as well as for the wearer of the fabric. We strictly take care that the processes are correct and non-hazardous for the environment and the people”. Colorant’s leadership has also made sure that regular CSR activities are being carried out. The company aims to make the society a better place and for that, according to Bhargava, it has taken many efforts within the permissible limits set by the government. Colorant directly supports NGOs, organisations involved in medical care and educational institutes financially.

Taking the Lead The company currently exports its products to over 15 countries which comprises 20% of its turnover. In the previous year the turnover closed at Rs 122 crore. Presently it is a MSME company aiming to enter the semi–corporate sector by exceeding turnover of Rs 250 crore in the next 3-5 years. As per Bhargava, the textile industry is already recovering from the pandemic with 70% of demand coming back – most of it is from exports, corporate sectors and semi-corporate sectors. Colorant will take a step to grow by making the company public rather than remain a family-owned business. “It’s the vision that matters. We want to take Colorant to greater heights and all our efforts are directed towards achieving this goal,” Bhargava says.      

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