My recent visit to Bangladesh was quite different from my past experiences. In those times the industry decision makers I talked to were gungho about expansion, sustainability and greening. Everyone was confident of achieving the US $ 50 billion target and the business environment was charged with positivity.
This time around again there were three topics that kept niggling the minds of decision makers, but the topics were far removed from the earlier ones. The industry think-tank was majorly talking about price squeeze, MOQ getting smaller and smaller, and the fear of losing out to Vietnam in a highly competitive market scenario.
The first two are concerns that are bothering the manufacturing community the world over and Bangladesh needs to tackle it in their own way. The industry needs to re-work its manufacturing systems and re-look at how to grow with the new challenges.
These Rs are critical, as buyers internationally are literally following the 4Rs of sustainability – Reuse, Recycle, Reduce and Repair, hence putting more pressure on prices, pushing them down further. This in turn is further lowering the MOQs and challenging manufacturers to re-think strategies.
The good part is that an understanding of the need to change with the changing times is strong among the industry. And I am sure that with determined and focused leadership, the Bangladesh industry is in good hands.
I, however, do not agree with the third concern regarding competition from Vietnam. In fact, I don’t really think that Vietnam would ever be a threat to Bangladesh, however much it may have grown in the last two years.
The wages in Vietnam are rising faster than those in Bangladesh and there is a severe manpower crunch that is already impacting the industry. Other industry segments in the country are developing very fast and also paying good while providing a better working environment.
For Bangladesh, the industry is the biggest source of employment for a large population of uneducated and poor workforce. Though other industries are being developed, the manpower availability for garments is far from over.
On a lighter note, another issue that is of serious concern for the country is onions!
The country is still exploring how to fulfil the shortfall which has been created by the sudden and unexpected curb on exports of onions by India. Everyone in India can empathise with the ‘onion’ concern, as it was one of the biggest reasons for the fall of the BJP Government many years ago.
Catering to the technology needs of markets in Asia, the importance of CISMA has grown over the years. At the recently concluded edition of CISMA, Lectra released Fashion on Demand which is a cutting-edge concept for on demand production. They launched it specifically for the Asian region, while it was there for Europe for the last 9 months. In an exclusive conversation with Daniel Harari of Lectra, StichWorld sheds light on how Lectra is far ahead of other players in the market.
This issue of SW, besides carrying a detailed review of CISMA, has put together a special feature on IoT in taking over the traditional sewing process. Juki, Jack, Duerkopp Adler, Brother are providing their own IoT sofware to the industry for better productivity and real time monitoring.