Browsing through intricate handicrafts, handloom textiles, jewellery and more at the three Cottage Emporiums in the city will soon be a thing of the past as the Textile Ministry has decided to shut all the three stores in Mumbai by May.
The union ministry of textiles, led by Smriti Irani, has decided to shut down the three stores – in Fort, Colaba and Malad – operated by Central Cottage Industries Corporation of India Ltd (CCIC).
The decision has been taken due to repeated losses and over 30 employees who ran the stores have been asked to move to other stores in Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore.
According to an order issued by the CCIC management, a copy of which is with Mumbai Mirror, the decision was taken in January by the board of directors of CCIC. The Mumbai unit of CCIC has been incurring losses of around Rs 3.5 crore a year over the past three years.
The CCIC has three stores in Mumbai, one on DN Road in Fort, one in Colaba’s Chhattrapati Shivaji Marg and a store in Malad’s Inorbit Mall. The CCIC also has space at Colaba’s Arthur Bunder Road. The first stores were opened in the early 1960s and are particularly popular among foreign tourists for its authentic handloom and handicraft products. The Central Cottage Industries Emporium was set up in 1952 to promote Indian handloom and handicrafts. “The idea was to help restore the crafts persons’ work and give them a sustainable way to live,” said Dinesh Kumar Mishra, General Manager (Commercial & Marketing), CCIC.
The CCIC has its flagship showroom in Delhi and stores in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru. Emphasising the importance of the emporiums and the cottage industry, Mishra said, “The emporiums showcase the finest crafts from all over India under one roof ranging from sculptures, paintings, pottery, carpets, sarees, ready to wear, herbal products and more. Cottage has also been playing major role in the revival of languishing crafts.”
However, it was not sustainable to keep the Mumbai unit running as it was incurring the highest losses among all the cities. “CCIC, Mumbai Branch incurred a loss of Rs.3.67 crore in the year 2015-16 and Rs 3.38 crore in 2016-17. The branch is expected to have a loss of Rs 3.6 crore in 2017-18 as well. For a company having a paidup capital of only Rs 10.85 crore, having a loss of 30 per cent (approx) of paid capital every year puts a tremendous strain on the meagre resources of the company,” the CCIC said in an emailed response to Mumbai Mirror.
Official said that unlike Mumbai, the Delhi units were doing good business. “The performance of all showrooms of CCIC is under review by Board of Directors. Delhi and Kolkata showrooms have been making profits. The Chennai showroom has incurred marginal losses. The performance of Bengaluru showroom, which is also in losses, is also under review,” the statement added.
Officials said that high rentals and high personnel overheads add to heavy losses in Mumbai. “The employees will be shifted to other units of CCIC. Preference of employees will be taken into consideration,” added Mishra.
Ravi Panchamukh, president of the CCIC employees union, said that the management must provide a voluntary retirement scheme for employees, many of whom are old and don’t want to move out of Mumbai. “Mumbai is the financial capital; it is unfair to shut down the stores here. The main issue is that the management has not purchased the property for so long, and is still paying high rent. We have a lot of foreign customers and our stores are still popular,” he said.