Renowned globally as an apparel manufacturing destination, Bangladesh’s claim to fame still seems to be its expertise in manufacturing basic products and in volumes with five products still ruling the roost!
As per data from the Export Promotion Bureau, 73 per cent of Bangladesh’s total export comes from manufacturing of shirts, t-shirts, trousers, jackets, and sweaters, while remaining 25 or more types of apparel items that Bangladesh produces, take up the remaining 27 per cent. However, changing times call for going up the value chain and diversify product offerings if one is to beat the falling margins and increasing competition.
“High-end value manufacturing is a must-do if Bangladesh wants to diversify its market and increase its export earnings,” underlines Brig Gen Aftab Uddin Ahmed, CEO of Centre of Excellence for Bangladesh Apparel Industry (CEBAI), a research and development institution focusing on the apparel industry, which is seconded by Mohammed Nasir, Vice President (Finance) of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), who further maintains, “It is true the business entrepreneurs still prefer investing in traditional garment factories, which produce these five items.”
But there are some exceptions to it like the backwardly-integrated Giant Group. Having established as a manufacturer of repute, Giant feels it’s time they look beyond the tried and tested and do something new! “We are planning product diversification within the knits,” underlines Faruque Hassan, Managing Director of Giant Group, adding that new machines are being brought in to make sure that more innovative and value-added products come from the house of Giant Group.
“There’s hardly any margin in basics these days. From April next year, we would be in a position to offer some new products to our existing and new clients,” assures Hasan, who, given his experience and understanding of the RMG sector, has shortlisted two hot-selling products of activewear and lingerie to start the endeavour of product diversification.
As per a report published by Allied Market Research titled Intimate Wear Market by Gender, Age Group, Price and Distribution Channel – Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecasts, 2014 – 2022, the global intimate wear market is expected to generate US $ 250 billion by 2022 while Technavio’s market research report (Global Intimate Apparel Market 2017-2021) predicts a steady growth for the global intimate wear market, expected to post CAGR of more than 4 per cent during the period, which is a far cry for many other product categories, to say the least.
In terms of products, the world bra market in 2016 was worth US$ 16.42 billion with bra accounting for 55.5 per cent of the world lingerie market while the world brief market was US$ 9.90 billion with briefs accounting for 33.5 per cent of the total lingerie market.
The scenario is even more exciting in activewear! As per reports, the global activewear market is expected to reach an astounding US $ 567 billion by 2024, rising at a CAGR of 6.8 per cent. A significant rise in the disposable income and growing fitness-conscious population are adding to the growth of the global activewear market.
Despite market prospects, quality and skill-set of the workforce in many cases prove to be a major hindrance for a majority of the manufacturers in Bangladesh to go for such kind of offerings. A strong believer in up-skilling the workers and middle management, Giant Group has got a shot in the arm with Faruque’s son Azfar Hassan (Managing Director) joining the business a couple of years back. He has initiated in-house training for the workers and the middle managers to make sure Giant Group has the right support system in place with a focus to propel and take forward the new endeavour in the right direction.