Interview with the CEO of the Dallas-based Alok International.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Arun Agarwal is the CEO of Alok International, a subsidiary of India-based Alok Industries that specializes in textile manufacturing.
Last month, the company opened a brand-new showroom – an expansive space of 17,000 square feet and five stories – on 105 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. The company’s bedding items are among the most popular in the US, and are sold at retailers such as Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Dillards and JC Penney.
Agarwal is currently based in Dallas, along with Alok International. He has been recognized by several organizations for his entrepreneur ship, including the Dallas Business Journal, which honored him earlier this year with their Minority Business Leader Award. He holds a degree from Southern New Hampshire University, and has been with Alok International since January of 2000.
In an email interview with The American Bazaar, Agarwal talks about how his company’s new Manhattan showroom came about, plans to open other showrooms in major cities around the world, and Alok International’s advocacy work within the textile industry in India.
How did the New York City showroom come to fruition? Has it been a long-term goal to open up a space in Manhattan specifically, or anywhere in the US?
We had a smaller presence in 7 West 34thBuilding, but with our vision of servicing the North American market and building a global footprint, the new space happened.
What is it about this new showroom that you feel you your company can now offer its clients, which it couldn’t offer before? How has this showroom helped Alok International grow and compete in the international textile industry?
Alok now becomes the only company in home textiles to provide full service from our own manufacturing, distribution, brands to design.
Are there any plans to open more showrooms in the US? How about in other countries, especially ones with heavy desi populations, like the UK?
No plans to open any other showrooms. Alok is a business to business company and New York is the business capitol of the world, other locations do not make sense.
Are there any designers you have plans to initiate contracts with, and add their designs to your already substantial collection? In particular, are there any Indian or Indian-origin designers you either have worked with, currently work with, or would like to work with?
We are on a constant path to add our designers portfolio. Indian designers are now well recognized on a global platform. Given our scale we have been approached by few very well-known names and are in discussions.
Although Alok International is based in Dallas, it’s a subsidiary of Alok Industries, which is based in Mumbai. Do you hire a lot of the workers in your US locations from India, requiring them to immigrate to the US, or do you hire domestically?
We hire mostly domestically
The Indian textile business came under a fire a bit last month, when a Harvard expose revealed that many textiles produced in India are the result of exploited workers and, essentially, slave labor. Does Alok Industries and Alok International do any humanitarian or activism work in this regard?
Alok is a preferred supplier to major retailers of the world and has one of the best infrastructures, social compliance structure and sustainable resources. We have our own schools, hospitals, etc. to support communities we are in.
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