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Industry pays tribute to supply pioneer ‘Lal’ Kumar

A pioneer of the Manchester clothing trade and international supply entrepreneur, Krishan ‘Lal’ Kumar, has died aged 75.

Kumar grew his supply business, Rajan Imports, from humble beginnings into a multi-million pound international operation, forging relationships with the likes of Sir Philip Green and US department store group JC Penney.

Kumar’s business began on a market stall in Manchester in 1954, but he moved on to set up a showroom selling overstocks on Manchester’s Bury New Road and named his business Rajan Trading. The name was changed to Rajan Imports in the 1980s.

In 1970, Kumar went to Hong Kong where he produced his own-label brand, importing up to 500,000 pieces of each style.

Next he jumped on opportunities in India, and when the boho look first became popular in the 1970s Kumar sourced Indian cheesecloth shirts and blouses for the trend-hungry UK high street.

During the 1980s Kumar grew his own-label business and began supplying the high street with his creations. In 1981, Rajan Imports introduced menswear, and in 1997 Kumar bought a 500,000sq ft warehouse in Newton Heath, Manchester.

Kumar’s son Rajan paid tribute to his father. “Whether he was speaking to the tea lady or a high-powered sales director, my father never treated anyone differently,” he said.

Rajan and his brother Sanjay will continue to run Rajan Imports.

Tributes

“Lal was one of the legends of the industry. No one had a bad word to say about him.”
Melvin Reiss, former buying director of Cromwells Madhouse

“He was a gentleman. What the customer wanted came first.”
Carl Brewins, senior buyer and director, Republic

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