Shifting focuses: From traditional export markets to non-conventional export hubs

by Apparel Resources

05-October-2019  |  7 mins read

With the changing strides, markets do not remain the same as they were earlier and there is a need to look out for new markets and tactics so as to go with the flow. Markets like the USA and EU have had enough of their run and now it is time for the non-conventional export hubs to be highlighted. The graph pointer for Bangladesh’s garment exports to non-conventional markets has a heads up as the last concluded fiscal year witnessed a growth of 21.77 per cent to US $ 5.68 billion. Non-conventional markets like Japan, China and India have high potential for products like Trousers, Shirts, T-shirts, Jackets & Blazers, Undergarments, Suits, etc., which are the factors of strength for Bangladesh.

Salim Rahman, Managing Director, KDS Group

I strongly believe that the traditional markets have had their run and though they may not want to admit it, the growth economies are now in Asia. Between India and China, I feel that our best bet for forward linkages is with India. Besides sharing a common heritage, the way fashion retail is growing in the country is phenomenal, and if we in Bangladesh don’t take this opportunity as it arises, we will not get the advantage of being the first movers. Almost all the international brands are trying to establish themselves in the most promising destination for retail. Yes, there were initial hiccups that we were facing in this regard but things have now settled down for better and what can be foreseen under the current circumstances is that the future can be built very well on practically all possible product categories because of the strength in many categories and this competitiveness works for us. I am sure if given a choice to source from China or Bangladesh, even the Indian retailers would prefer to work with Bangladesh not only because of the physical proximity, but also for the comfort level that we mutually share.

Md. Imtiaz Shuvo, General Manager – Marketing, Mahdeen Sweaters Limited

I have a buying office background and I understand that markets are not what they used to be a few years ago. The retail prices are not increasing, but the demand for unique products is growing. In these hugely demanding markets, it is becoming very difficult for manufacturers to stay competitive, because buyers from the traditional markets are not willing to support the manufacturers with price increase, though the requirements have increased manifold. The only option that is left with exporters is to search out newer markets that are willing to pay for the extra effort we make for product development. A focus to expand one’s presence in more markets is what can act as a saviour in these testing times. As a sweater manufacturer, Mahdeen Group is actively looking at Russia, which is one of the biggest markets for this product category. We are already in talks and some orders have also dispatched. Many new developments have been made hoping that our quality and product range can penetrate into this market even deeper in the future.

Nafid Nabi, Director, BSA Group

The dynamics of business and markets are changing very fast, and what could work a few years ago, no longer finds takers today. As the second-generation entrepreneurs who have seen the struggle of our fathers to create a foothold in the industry, we want to do things differently to be in tune with the changing times. Right from the starting, we have manufactured woven products, mostly shirts and casual trousers for the US market, but now we are looking at manufacturing knits because the market demand for knits is increasing not only in the traditional markets, but also in the new markets that are the focus for many exporters in Bangladesh because of the growth potential that they provide. It is a new category for us, but if we want to create a new growth driver, we have to take the plunge.

Md. Taief Azmi Irfan, Director, Fashion & Beyond International

The Bangladesh market has matured a lot in the last decade and now exporters are asking us as to why we have to only listen to them. What we were making for say US $ 4, five years ago, is still being made at the same price, and in some cases, the demand is to lower the price. This is impossible as the cost of the product has increased significantly and buyers are not willing to listen to us. Now we have to search for newer and more upcoming markets, and for that, both individual and collective efforts are being made. Countries that were never on our radar like Japan, India and Russia are now target markets. In fact, this is the only way to grow. We have to come out of our shell following the old work practices and targeting the same set of buyers. The time has come when we have to believe strongly in our competency and potential to build presence in markets that we have not yet ventured into.

Md. Shahidul Haque, MD & CEO, Adam Apparels

For long, the so-called traditional markets of the West – USA and Europe – have dominated the fashion retail chain and all manufacturing nations including Bangladesh were producing primarily for these countries. But the situation is fast changing presently. The economy of United States is on the downward curve and the European economy is heading for what looks like a major recession. In such a situation, it is clearly understood that there is very less opportunity to grow business. The prevailing condition makes all of us look at new markets in Japan, South Africa, China, India, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Chile, and of late, even Russia and South America.

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