Huge potential in Kuwait’s textile market

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By Ben Garcia

Pakistani national Shakeel Ahmed Malik owns 18 textile stores in Kuwait. Before the coronavirus pandemic, he ran 22 textile stores, along with a host of other businesses. Malik shared his story with the Kuwait Times on how he became a textile entrepreneur and the challenges he faced during the difficult times of the pandemic.

Malik joined his brother in Kuwait in search of greener pastures in 1994. He started as a helper in his brother’s carpentry business. After four years, he exhausted himself and decided to open a billiard room. At that time, before the advent of the internet, cell phones, and gadgets, billiards was a popular pastime for many young Kuwaitis and residents, and a lucrative business opportunity. Her brother loaned her 13,000 KD to open the salon, and there was no turning back. From a billiard hall, it has opened 13 similar halls across Kuwait. After the competition heated up, he changed his line of business. “I had saved enough to start an even bigger business,” recalls Malik.

Malik wanted to open a gold store, but his heart told him to do something else. “Then I met an Iranian looking for a business partner in 2004. This guy was an expert in textiles, but I didn’t know anything about it. At first I hesitated and consulted some people. When I heard that there was a great demand for textiles, I immediately jumped into them, ”he said. He initially invested 6,000 KD.

When the textile business was established and everything went as planned, he opened several sewing workshops to complement his fabric business. Most of its fabrics are imported from China, India, Japan and South Korea. Malik’s business rose to fame and he operated as many as 22 stores at the height of business. Its products include cotton yarn, polyester and cotton blended yarn, silk, cotton, soy protein, polyester and nylon.

“We only select the best fabrics – that’s why people trust us. My marketing manager is paid a nice salary to buy products from various countries. He also earns commissions and travels the world, primarily to China, purchasing new and modern textile products for the company, ”added Malik.

Once his business was well established, he began to receive orders from India and the United Arab Emirates. The upward trend continued until the end of 2015. “In 2016, the general business climate gradually deteriorated due to the instability of oil prices and other financial problems around the world. . So even before the pandemic, we experienced a commercial slump. It was already on the decline, but the massive impact was felt of course from 2020 until today. Hopefully by next year we will recover, because I think we have already hit the lowest point, ”Malik told the Kuwait Times.

The textile sector in Kuwait is small compared to other countries in the Middle East, but it has enormous potential for growth, according to Malik. Before the pandemic, Malik had around 60 people working in his six companies, but he now has only 20 employees. “During the pandemic, I laid off many employees as part of cost-cutting measures. For over six months, I had no income. My savings ran out as I continued to pay my workers. I also had to pay rent for my stores – during lockdown, owners of real estate companies only waived rent for three months. For the remaining months, I paid in full, ”he said.

Malik is still picking up the pieces. “The stores are receiving customers, but not as many as those before the pandemic. We are slowly recovering. I think the market will only accelerate in 2023, ”he said.


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