High on Humanity and Design

Ragubady K Head- Industrial Relations, Hidesign & Gokul S, Manager-HR,hidesign on what makes Hidesign one of the most respected and sought-after leather-products manufacturer in the world, finds Mansi Kohli

AJJ School of Management graduate, Raghubady K joined Hidesign in 2008 after his stint at Whirlpool as an executive trainee. He has clear and in-depth knowledge of HR that helps Hidesign keeping its employees happy and satisfied.

Gokul S: A versatile personality Mr. S brings considerable amount of knowledge and expertise of HR practices to the table. Completing his MBA from the Amrita School of Business with a specialisation in HR. He has left no stone unturned in making Hidesign one of the preferred employers in the country.

Q. Tell us about Hidesign’s journey and HR practices.

A. Ragubady K: The legacy started when Dilip Kapur, founder of Hidesign, started the company with a seed capital of INR 25,000 in 1978 with only two artisans in Pondicherry. Today, we have approximately 3,000 people working for us across the globe, weaving the exclusive and personalised leather merchandise. He is the man behind the awe-inspiring success of Hidesign. Hailing from Punjab, he has a passion for leather bags and took it to such a high level that world’s reputed firms look up to it. Now, his son, Vikas Kapur, has taken over the reins of the organisation.

We, along with four more people, look after the design department. Dilip’s support is extremely important to us. Though, he is 63 years old but his energy and enthusiasm beat us and it feels as though he is 23. He is one such leader that everyone would like to follow. He sits with his workers, eats lunch with them, discusses their problems. He is so friendly with everyone that even an office boy can approach him.

Offering our products to girls of all age and style, we provide affordable luxury bags. We do not change design patterns often, which are selected after a meticulous market research. With 90 per cent of our products exported, our commitment to clients holds high priority for us. Dilip consistently looks after every pattern, and if he is not convinced about it, he requests to delay the shipment as Hidesign never compromises on quality, production, and display.

In India, out of the seven regional heads, six are females. We take pride in the fact that nearly 80 per cent of our employees are females. We interact with our employees through regional heads, solving their grievances. It is a two-way communication process.

Gokul S: Our attrition rate is not high, and this is not only because of our HR polices, but also due to Dilip. He motivates employees by complimenting them on a regular basis. Hidesign fairs well in retaining people. In fact, there is no structured incentive scheme rather we distribute incentives based on one’s performance.

Every year, we award our employees’ daughters who score high marks in their board examinations. In addition, we also arrange counselling sessions for our employees, helping them with their personal as well as professional problems. This helps us in knowing in knowing their reasons for taking leaves or not being present at the office.

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Q. Vegetable-tanned products are a speciality of Hidesign. What are the advantages of using this procedure? What kind of feedback have you received from the market about the same?

A. Gokul S: We use natural seeds and barks to make vegetable-tanned items. We don’t believe in using any kind of paint or pigmentation to suppress leathers’ defects rather it is full grain. The natural tanning process increases sturdiness and durability of our leathers. Using the traditional saddlery endeavours, Hidesign’s brass buckles are hand polished and sand cast.

Ragubady K: To meet our production demands, we have three manufacturing units in Pondicherry and one in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh. In addition, we also own one buckle factory for the solid brass buckle manufacturing and a tannery for vegetable-tanning process in Chennai. All our bags are handcrafted to retain the natural look. We do hand stitching using vegetable-tanning process that is a unique and important aspect of our products. We have impressed our patrons with our designs and received a positive feedback.

Q. Brief us about your CSR activities.

A. Ragubady K: We prefer hiring on the basis of employee referrals. We have set aside an incentive for reference called ‘referral bonus’, and it gets people interested in referring others. We make an announcement through our supervisors about the vacancy and process. We also encourage our employees who are engineers and MBAs to mentor people who are not that literate. In this way, we not only give back to the society but also contribute in building a better world.

Gokul S: Hidesign pays special attention to local community development. 60 per cent of our workers are from villages that are in vicinity of the factories. The idea was to create employment opportunities in the rural areas as well.

Q. What are your future plans in terms of expansion of outlets and showrooms?

A. Ragubady K: Hidesign have 75 boutiques in India, and this year, we plan to increase it to 100. We as a brand go beyond style! Young generation of India is familiar with the name, and its illustrious range of leather products. Hidesign’s natural and eco-friendly luxury leather products and accessories make it second to none. It has etched a formidable reputation of being the first Indian brand to be marketed at the most-coveted international shopping destinations, and will continue to do so