COVID-19 Outbreak Has Prompted Us To Leverage Our Domain Knowledge To Manufacture Protective Medical Coveralls: Karan Bose, Hula Global
In an exclusive conversation with BW Disrupt, Karan Bose, MD, Hula Global talks about the firm and more.
1. What are your plans for the following year?
We are going to focus on medical supplies to be used as protection against COVID-19 for the rest of the year. For the domestic market, we have launched a distribution program to on-board distributors and resellers for our ULTRA branded N95 masks. For international markets, we are exploring strategic tie-ups with Large and Mid-size healthcare distributors.
2. What are your plans for expansion for the company?
Currently, our focus will remain on manufacturing products from our existing product portfolio. However, our internal R&D team is constantly evaluating other relevant products that can be complementary to our offering. At times, we even run internal competitions within our organisation, let’s say a sort of hackathon to develop new products and renewed ways of manufacturing an existing product. While some turn out to be successful, like our recently introduced face shields, some don’t and our sanitisation tunnel is a perfect example of that.
However, we plan to add more protective products for viruses like Ebola, etc. into our product portfolio once the pandemic is over. There are several other opportunities as well within the healthcare segment, which we plan to explore.
3. How is your online business operational in this pandemic?
During the lockdown, Hula Global hired many employees to run a digital team and sales team remotely and we are still on a hiring spree to keep the online business operational even after the pandemic is over. In fact, we will try to ensure that any job that can be completed online will be done remotely from now on.
4. How do you ensure sanitization of your manufacturing factories?
Most of our staff are local hailing from Noida. During the lockdown, we also got people from our management team relocated to Noida and provided pick and drop facilities to all of them. In terms of Health and Safety, we are following all the safety standards mandated by the guidelines issued by MoHFW. Regular thermal checks are being conducted and ample sanitizers are being provided to every staff member along with manufactured by our company.
5. What inspired you to turn into a medical gears manufacturer?
We started Hula Global to save time, cost and creating transparency in the apparel manufacturing chain and within two years, we acquired in-depth knowledge and expertise in the manufacturing of medical-grade products. However, it was the COVID-19 outbreak that prompted us to leverage our strong domain knowledge to manufacture protective medical coveralls and PPE gears to start catering to the frontline healthcare workers and police who have been dealing with COVID-19 patients. We were one of the first companies, if not the very first company to manufacture full body coveralls, which are a part of PPE kits. By Mar 2020, we landed multiple distribution deals with companies with Bahrain Government, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Brazil and Italy. It was finally in May, In May, we expanded our product portfolio to include various types of Masks; FFP1s, FFP2s, FFP3s, N95s), Surgical Gowns – Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 and our latest addition is high-quality face shield (visors). We also invested significantly to expand our manufacturing capacity from 10,000 coveralls a month to 10 lakh coveralls a month. We are also producing 80,00,000 pcs of N95 masks monthly.
6. Has your turnover changed after coming into the medical gears business?
The turnover has definitely changed this year since January. Our medical business is now the only revenue generation vertical of the group. In terms of comparison, it took us more than 2 years to cross $100,000 mark for apparel business at group level and it took us 2 months to cross $100,000 mark in medical supplies led by our brand ULTRA.
7. After the ban on exports gets lifted, are you exporting to other countries?
We landed distribution deals with several government contractors of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran in the month of March. But none of those deals could materialize because the export ban on medical goods was put in place.
We are also receiving a large volume of enquiries from countries like the US and Canada but there are numerous uncertainties in the Indian government’s export policies in the present scenario. The government has to open up exports as there is overproduction. Once it is done, we will be all set to get the ball rolling.
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