Maintaining lead-time challenge for thriving denim export: businesses

Two-day denim expo begins in Dhaka

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Nov 08,2018

 
 
A man shows denim products to a representative of buyer at a two-day denim expo that began in Dhaka on Wednesday. Bangladesh is a lucrative destination for the international denim retailers and brands for competitive prices, but maintaining lead-time strictly is a challenge for the country as the buying pattern in the western world has changed, according to the industry people. — New Age photo

A man shows denim products to a representative of buyer at a two-day denim expo that began in Dhaka on Wednesday. Bangladesh is a lucrative destination for the international denim retailers and brands for competitive prices, but maintaining lead-time strictly is a challenge for the country as the buying pattern in the western world has changed, according to the industry people. — New Age photo

Bangladesh is a lucrative destination for the international denim retailers and brands for competitive prices, but maintaining lead-time strictly is a challenge for the country as the buying pattern in the western world has changed, according to the industry people.
‘Although there is a price pressure from the buyers, a lot of work orders are pouring in Bangladesh amid the ongoing trade war between the US and China and now maintaining shorter lead-time is a challenge for us,’ said Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury, general manager (operations) of Square Denims Limited.
The buyers have now reduced the lead-time to 40 days for fast fashion and so Bangladeshi exporters need to stockpile a lot of denim fabrics in their warehouses to meet fast fashion, he said.
Currently, the monthly demand for denim fabrics in Bangladesh is 80 million yards and the local 31 denim mills can supply 60 million yards in a month, he said.
With higher demand from the retailers and brands, almost every year new denim mills are also coming into operations in the country.
The western retailers and brands remain under tremendous pressure due to fast fashion. Every year nearly 15 per cent retail shops are closing their business in the European markets as customers now prefer to buy online, Jordi Juani, director of Asia division of Spanish company Jeanologia, told New Age.
Maintaining a shorter lead-time is the key for higher growth of the garment export in near future as the western customers are increasingly depending on e-commerce rather than the traditional retail chain shopping system, he said.
According to Juani, in the traditional retail chain shopping system, 90 days or more are the ideal lead-time for the retailers and brands in the western world, but recently the time has declined to 40 to 45 days for the invasion of e-commerce.
So, if Bangladesh wants to do better in garment business, especially in the denim business, the local fabrics makers and exporters will have to adopt new technologies, increase productivity and bring changes in designs, Juani said.
Juani’s company has been supplying modern technologies on how to increase productivity and on how to reduce use of water in washing of garment fabrics.
He said now it was possible to wash a kilogram of denim fabrics with only 10 litres of water, previously it needed at least 70 litres or more of water for washing the same quantity of fabrics.
‘If Bangladesh cannot maintain strict lead-time, we will move to alternative destinations like Vietnam. So Bangladesh has to maintain a mixture in lead-time and competitive prices of garment items,’ said Juani, who supplies denim fabrics worth $20 million to Bangladesh in a year.
Echoing Juani’s views, Carmen Chan, senior director of US-headquartered Cone Denim said lead-time was important for Bangladesh for grabbing more market share in the US.
Many small retailers in the US are struggling to survive as many competitors are setting up new units and competing with each other, said Chan who has been supplying denim fabrics to Bangladesh over the last 12 years having 10 per cent year-on-year growth.
Chan supplies denim fabrics worth $20 million in a year.
He also said that the US customers did not want to know the sources of making garments, but the prices.
‘If the prices are competitive, the US customers will buy more. Where the garment is made does not matter. Speed is everything now,’ he said.
‘We have to diversify and have to be unique,’ said Chan who supplies fabrics to Bangladeshi garment makers from his two Mexican and one Chinese factories.
This year 63 companies from 12 countries including Germany, the US, Turkey, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Pakistan, Japan, San Marino, China and India are showcasing their denim products and technologies in a two-day show that began at the International Convention City, Bashundhara in Dhaka on Wednesday.
‘In the world of market of denim, simplicity is now the ultimate sophistication. So, in this edition, the Bangladesh Denim Expo will try to give a much simpler message about sustainability and ecology in denim,’ said Mostafiz Uddin, the organiser of the show.

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