KATHMANDU: With the monsoon unleashed, the business of raincoats is making hay while it downpours. Stylish, comfortable and handy for those on the move, the demand for raincoats is on the rise. Chinese raincoats are flooding the market with a wide variety of brands and styles. Since Chinese products are more affordable, fancy and attractive, they control more than 80 per cent of the total
market share. While Nepali products claim to offer better quality and durability, they are not very competitive against Chinese imports due to higher prices.
Sudarshan Shivakoti, owner of Shivakoti Bag Industry, which also manufactures raincoats, says, “Nepali raincoats are made of Japanese raw material which lasts for five years. Because we work with expensive raw materials, our manufacturing cost is automatically higher.”
“Raincoat business is totally seasonal and lasts for two months only. In this short period of time, the local industry has to manufacture our products despite the lack of technology, skilled manpower and shortage of raw materials. Hence, importing from China has become easy for business,” he maintains, adding that China-made products are delivered to retailers within 15 days of order.
Stating that they mostly manufacture suit style and poncho type of raincoats, Shivakoti says, “Though the demand for raincoats is on the rise every year, Nepali products are unable to cater to the growing demand. We also don’t take risk and prefer to manufacture on
demand basis.” According to him, Chinese products enjoy free reign over 80 per cent of the total market share whereas Nepali products barely take care of the remaining 20 per cent. Nepali raincoats, because of their higher quality, are 30 per cent costlier than
“There are many categories of China-made products. As Nepalis cannot afford high quality products, we import low quality products which are inexpensive and suitable for the general mass and we are doing quite good,” says Ganesh Sedai, owner of GKS and Suppliers, wholesaler at Mahabouddha. Reportedly, wide variety of products, easy trade, low risk, stylishness, affordability, good packaging and finish are the qualities that have helped Chinese raincoats dominate the market. “Most customers are only price conscious and opt for inexpensive products over quality. However, we do sell Nepali raincoats to those who are willing to pay more for quality products,” Sedai further adds.
Chinese brands also offer a much wider variety and utility, ranging from suit sets, ponchos, transparent, bike raincoats for single and
double riders. “Customers who can afford and are willing to pay a higher price prefer Nepali products which are durable and last up to five years. Material and lamination make the products superior,” informs Shivakoti, adding that suit set costs Rs 1,425 to Rs 2,130.
Bikesh Bhattarai, a customer, says, “I bought a Chinese raincoat suit set for Rs 850 whereas a Nepali brand would cost
Rs 1,400. Students like me cannot afford that extra amount.” He adds, “Chinese products are cheap and fancy to look
at even though quality may not be assured.”
According to Shivakoti, there are about 60 manufacturers of raincoat, among which, 12 work with Japanese material whereas others with Chinese raw materials. The genuine customers of raincoat are school goers, bikers, workers, farmers and officials. “Raincoats are gaining popularity among farmers and other workers as it the best way to work in the fields and sites while staying water proof,” informs Sedai. According to him, the demand for raincoats is growing by 10 to 15 per cent every year.
Dongmei and Zingmei are popular Chinese brands for their affordable price and wide range of products. Raincoats made in Nepal are tagged with brand names like Nike, Northface, Addidas, Zara, Gothex, et cetera. “We don’t have any specific brand name to put,
so we choose whatever sells in the market,” maintains Shivakoti.
According to him, they have sold 31,000 suit sets and 350 pieces of poncho this season, which is 30 per cent more than what they sold last year. “We also import products from China but our emphasis is on Nepali products. We are unable to manufacture bike raincoats because we do not have the required plastic for headlights and side mirrors,” he explains.
According to Shivakoti, declining purchasing power, competition, use and throw mentality, and focus on price rather than quality
are reasons for Chinese products dominating the Nepali market.
On the other hand, there are huge challenges and obstacles for manufacturers in Nepal. Reportedly, labour problem, load shedding, raw material not reaching on time, insecurity, lack of machinery and adverse environment and provisions are the biggest obstacles. He opines that if the government strictly monitors imported products and creates a favourable environment for manufacturers and reduces custom duty on raw materials, Nepali manufacturers will be able to take care of a larger portion of the national demand. “However due to lack of homework and farsightedness, the Nepali market is increasingly relying upon Chinese products. This is not helping the economy,” says Shivakoti with disappointment.