2016-17 has been a very interesting year. Trump and Brexit grabbed political headlines - in extreme interpretation even prompting questions about end of western liberalism, and clearly a mandate against globalization. Closer home, demonetization came as an unexpected shock to an economy preparing for arrival of the biggest tax reform since independence. On the other hand, technology and innovation continued their march and broke new grounds in diverse fields including Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Nanotech, Autonomous Vehicles and Additive Manufacturing.
Global apparel industry grew 3.6% in FY16 on the back of strong growth in Asia-Pacific. Trends in the apparel industry are changing rapidly with new-age apparel gaining ground. Modern apparel is coming packed with features and functionalities never seen before - smart connectivity, ultra-light weight, active temperature management, multi-dimensional super-stretch are the areas where manufacturers are pushing new bar. There is a clear trend in shift towards sports and sports inspired clothing - which in turn requires specialty yarns such as performance polyester, polyamides and spandex. In general, I see cotton losing its predominance as the default fibre for making fabrics and apparel. While it still accounts for majority share in India, the global trends already reflect shift towards man-made fibres. On an overall basis, these man-made fibres end up being more cost effective and environment friendly. One more reality is the global success of European fast fashion majors which is clearly impact the supply chain for many of the global brands.
At the retail end, the transformation is even more pronounced. Online shopping accounts for over 20% of the US apparel sales. Retailers and brands especially in the developed markets have been pushing for extreme personalization and a seamless online-offline experience. Apparel retail in India is also slowly moving online with ~9% of the apparel sales being done on internet. Unlike some of the other major markets, apparel and fashion is the leading category driving the adoption of ecommerce in India and currently contributes almost 30% to the total e-commerce in India.
We at Arvind have always believed in being at the leading edge of transformations impacting our businesses. Innovation always excites us and we continue to experiment with new products, technologies and business models. For instance, our expanded apparel manufacturing facilities and the new plants in Ethiopia are designed to plug seamlessly into the global supply-chains of our customers, at least total cost and best supply times. The patented Neo process creates water-less dyed Indigo products which have significantly reduced environmental impact. During the year, we launched Azurite, which is our patented technology of premium saturated indigo fabrics.
Our brands and retail business is one of the most proactive adopters of omni-channel commerce, which enables our customers to create seamless offline-online shopping journeys. This proprietary platform has already been rolled out to more than 600 of our stores, and we will be connecting many more stores in the current year.
In terms of business, the US consumer market continued to remain steady with soaring housing prices and low interest rates. EU has been grappling with multiple years of slowdown. The Chinese economy also has clearly cooled down. Apparel exports from India remained flat, although overall textiles exports from India fell during the year primarily on account lower yarn and fabric exports. Despite the impact of demonetization in parts of Q3 and Q4, the domestic market grew by about 10% during the year. In this context, our key global accounts continued to remain strong provided helped our textiles business grow by a healthy 10%. The brands and retail business delivered a market leading growth of 26%.
Two key factors have been impacting the financial performance for all industry players including Arvind. Firstly, the cotton prices have unusually continued to stay high. This price movement is not driven by global demand and supply situation, but purely as a result of speculators holding on to their positions. Secondly, the continuing strength of the Indian currency impacts all exports adversely. Both these factors have had and will continue to have a significant bearing on our financial performance as well.
Implementation of GST will bring few fundamental shifts in the textile and apparel retail market. While estimates vary, we can safely assume at least 75% of the Indian apparel market today is unorganised. Once the initial hiccups related to GST implementation are resolved, I expect the apparel retail industry to shift towards organised sector, which augurs very well for players such as Arvind. Our value retail format "Unlimited" has been doing extremely well for last few quarters, and I expect an even better traction in the post-GST era.
Sustainability is central to our policies and practices - our Fundamentally Right philosophy guides our choices with regard to both environmental and social sustainability. Our innovative methods for conserving natural resources in our facilities got us multiple awards. We were also chosen as supplier of Zero Liquid Discharge system by the Ethiopian government for their largest apparel manufacturing park at Hawassa. As a responsible corporate citizen, our foundation runs the Gyanda program that provides a highly effective remedial education program for 1200 children from less privileged backgrounds. We also run four health-clinics in collaboration with Swasth that provide comprehensive healthcare services including consultation, diagnostics and pharmacy - all for a small fee.
Change and adaptability is the key to success in the ever evolving textile and apparel market globally. I am confident that if we are able to adapt to the changing market, the future will be extremely rewarding for all our stakeholders. I take this opportunity to thank all our partners and stakeholders for their continued support and I look forward to an exciting journey ahead, together.