Bombay Dyeing, a prominent feature of downtown Bombay for a century, is likely to move many of its production facilities out of the city, and eliminate half its workforce in the process.

The textiles and petrochemicals conglomerate has announced that it is looking to cut its employee numbers from the current 5500 to 2250. Despite having a fabric capacity of 112 million square meters and 121 thousand spindles, Bombay Dyeing has been downsizing steadily for the last decade or so, although the number of people leaving the company on an annual basis has been made up of those on the 'Voluntary' Retirement Scheme' and those reaching natural retirement. But this latest news suggests that under current managing director Arvind Sarin the company is heading for drastic surgery.

While no timeframe has been announced, a statement issued by the company suggests its actions will take place over a year or two.

India's composite textile mills are having a tough time at present. Political in-fighting has ensured that tax rules are skewed in favour of small textile units - which excludes the large composite concerns. Over 121 composite mills have already closed down, representing 0.35 million workers, 9 million spindles, 46000 rotors and 69000 looms that are now lying idle. Fabric production by the composites today makes up just 5 per cent of India's output, and those that remain survive largely on exports.

Against all this turbulence, Bombay Dyeing has been renowned for its stability. Now, though, it seems that the company will be shifting part of its spinning and weaving capacity and its entire printing and processing facilities elsewhere in the same state. The most likely location is Patalganga, where it already has a plant producing DMT, the raw material for polyester.

By Navroz Havewala.