Mohammed Jabbar is the Managing Director of a Family Business Conglomerate in Bangladesh, DBL Group, established in 1991. He is a Computer Science graduate from the University of Texas at Dallas, USA.
Jabbar is highly aware of and compliant with the changing flows in the global markets and is passionate about CSR and Sustainability. He has been instrumental in developing a good reputation and continued success for DBL. His dynamic leadership brought in growth opportunities for the company resulting in the evolution of more diversified industries for DBL Group. In a span of three decades, DBL has grown and diversified into Apparel, Textiles, Ceramic Tiles, Pharmaceuticals, Dredging, Telecom, VLSI, and IT industries. DBL had an annual turnover of $870 million for the year 2021-22 and employs 43,000 people.
His enthusiasm for excelling, harvesting, and cultivating innovation has roped in professionals from different fields to join the business and articulate their talents to transcending lengths. Being a signatory to UN Global Compact, Jabbar has aligned the sustainability activities of DBL with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Jabbar is Senior Vice President of the Bangladesh Economic Zone Investors’ Association (BEZIA) and Vice President of the Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BCMEA). He is also on the Board of the Global Compact Network Bangladesh, a Trustee Board Member of CSR Center Bangladesh, and an Advisory Committee Member of the British International Investment (BII), the development finance institution of the UK government.
He represents DBL in the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Bangladesh, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Color City Ltd. (Eco Threads & Yarns) is a concern of DBL Group. Recently team Textile Focus visited Eco Threads & Yarns factory and observed the state-of-art technology and innovation adoption in the threads and yarns production process. In this connection, we had a conversation with M. A. Jabbar, Managing Director, DBL Group. Key discussion points are mentioned below for our readers-
Textile Focus: Could you please share with us the current scenario of the overall situation of the Textile Sector?
M.A. Jabbar: The overall situation of the textile sector is a little shaky nowadays. With high inflation in the US and Europe, consumers are spending less on apparel and this circumstance is increasing the tendency to stock in the store more as well as leading to the miseries of the retailers. The fact of the matter is that, due to Ukraine and Russia wars and economic crises, shoppers are spending more on food and fuel. Simply put, consumers are spending less on clothes, especially in the last quarter and so on. It is showing a declining impact on the order quantity in the RMG sector in Bangladesh.
Textile Focus: As the largest group of companies, why is DBL investing in the Sewing thread?
M.A. Jabbar: Bangladesh’s overall RMG export earnings stood at USD 42.61 billion in the last FY, which was 35.47 percent higher than that of the previous fiscal year. Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), has set a target to earn $100 billion by 2030 from clothing products. Keeping the growth in mind, Eco Threads & Yarns is a new endeavor of DBL Group for global quality sewing thread to enrich the garment and textile industry of our country. Even a few years ago, local garment manufacturers were mainly dependent on multinational companies to procure sewing thread, but now local companies are more capable of producing international standard sewing thread which we are producing. We are targeting to step into the global market as well as the Bangladesh market with its state-of-the-art technologies with highly skilled R&D, production, and technical professionals with our global quality premium sewing threads.
Textile Focus: The sewing thread business has enormous potential in Bangladesh, and the industry is booming here; what is your observation regarding the challenges of the Backward linkage sector?
M.A. Jabbar: Eco Threads has assembled the most advanced technologies and the most modern types of machinery with a passionate and experienced workforce in the Dyeing, Finishing, and Quality section, making it one of the most efficient production units in Bangladesh. However, for sourcing polyester raw materials we mostly depend on imports from China, Thailand, and cotton from India. Due to the current unstable global market situation, we are exploring for alternatives to expand our supply chain network and overcome any crisis moments. India, Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, and other European countries are in our alternate sourcing development pipeline.
Textile Focus: What is the future of Eco threads and Yarns regarding direct exports?
M.A. Jabbar: We already plan to put up a plant in Vietnam within the next 2 years. As you know by now, we have got some prominent and prestigious retailers and brands nomination like M&S, H&M, C&A, George, etc., and many more in the pipeline. Setting up a sewing thread factory is one kind of support for our buyers as many US retailers mainly source from Vietnam due to shorter lead times.
Textile Focus: We know DBL Group is an innovation and R&D-based company. How are innovation and R&D leading the company to boost business?
M.A. Jabbar: Our main objective is to ensure 100% reliability and accuracy in color consistency and on-time delivery. To secure color consistency, we have used the best of the best European machinery & advanced technologies, dyes, and chemicals. Our specialists at R&D has developed some extraordinary products under the supervision of Mr. Shakhawat Hossain CEO, of Eco Threads & Yarns like ecoCOT Corded, ecoLYOCELL, ecoHEM, ecoMELT, ecoSOFT etc. For denim, we have specialized and innovative products like ecoDENIM, ecoCORE, ecoPOLY. We have a dedicated Technical Team with skilled professionals offering the program “ECOCARE” with a solution-based approach to provide specialized care to retailers/customers.
Textile Focus: Could you please share the recent investment of DBL Group?
M.A. Jabbar: Sustainable development and sound technology are in the keynotes of DBL Group. Reflecting the same, we have recently invested in multiple sectors like ceramics, Pharmaceuticals, and DBL Industrial Park in Sreehatta Economic Zone in Sylhet’s Moulvibazar. DBL ceramics started its operation at the end of 2016. Known for its creativity and unique designs, the DBL ceramics creations comprise both innovation and exclusivity. Also, DBL has built state-of-the-art pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities with a vision of accomplishing WHO cGMP, UK MHRA, and USFDA certifications to cater to the local appetite and the global market as well for high-end Branded Generics, Oncologic & Biologics. Moreover, we invested $650 million (Tk5500 crore) in DBL industrial park on 167 acres of land to establish 10 factories to manufacture textiles, ceramic and sanitary items at Sreehatta Economic Zone in Moulvibazar where 6,000 new employment will be created.
Textile Focus: If the Global Recession in 2023 comes, what will impact the Textile Sector?
M.A. Jabbar: Our planning minister said inflation in the UK and US has exceeded 10%. Compared to them, he said, Bangladesh’s inflation was 9.1%. While the rate had increased in August to 9.52%, it had decreased in September, he said.
As textiles fall under the category of non-high priority items, high prices for goods will lead consumers to prioritize essentials such as food, energy, mortgage payments, etc. Also, a Price hike in energy and freight costs results in a price rise of retail products, which creates less demand from the customer. That’s why goods are piling up in stores. As a result, starting from July to next February, RMG factories are reporting booking orders for less than 30% of their production capacity. Also, high energy costs and electricity shortages are directly impacting our planning and production. We’ve already observed a negative growth in export earnings which may be worsened further in the coming months. There is also a good point; People might spend less on fashion. But, they will not stop buying altogether. They might buy less or purchase lower-value items which is one of our weaknesses in the Bangladesh RMG industry. Well, while we are doing low-value products in Bangladesh, it may result in strength for us in a sense.