Need to invest more in R&D for product and market diversification

Author: Md Safeyee, Country Manager, Trevin. Former Country Manager of Carrefour, Kmart/Sears.

In its 40-year journey, the garment industry has consistently played a significant role in the country’s economic development.  through its contribution to foreign currency earnings, job creation, and poverty alleviation, which is driving Bangladesh toward a prosperous nation.

Bangladesh apparel industry, the second largest ready-made garment exporter in the world, has scrambled many challenges and still it is overcoming many tough situations. Now Bangladesh is a trustworthy name for international buyers. Many skilled, dedicated persons and entrepreneurs are working hard to flourish in the sector. 

Our garment industry has sporadically developed. Now that’s going to be the structural format. The industry is passing a good time for changing the formation. From the very beginning, our clothing buyers thought Bangladesh was making very cheap products with cheap labour costs. But in recent times it has incredibly transformed itself and started producing diversified garment products. A few factories are delivering sustainable high-end readymade garments (RMG) products.

In this tough time, the Bangladesh textile and apparel industry has incredibly stood up to the challenge and added new feathers to the current product portfolio. It is high time that decision-makers should invest more in R&D for product diversification and cope with upcoming buying trends. RMG manufacturers focus more on sportswear, activewear and high-end goods.

Why is our Product diversification so Ltd –

-Growth focus needs to change from making conventional products in bulk.

-Work on the concept-to-delivery model

-The local skilled designer is missing in the process  

-increase focus and training on making high SMV products example women’s wear.

-manual and Automation combination need investment here.

-Provide enough training and fix processes for workers at all levels for high-end product making.

-investment on men made fiber  

For the time being, the country already has world-class factories in terms of green industries. The diversification of products is the demand of time to get better prices for the sustainability of the industry.

But the upsetting factor is that even though we are the second largest garments exporter in the world right now, our export basket has always been concentrated and unexplored in terms of product, fiber, and market destination.

About 75 percent of our total exports are concentrated on five basic items and our shipments go to markets in the EU and USA.

Why is our market diversification so Ltd?

-Comfort zone and too much dependency on 2 major markets

-increase investment in Market R&D

-Make enough showcase of high-end products made in Bangladesh

-Besides industry management Government can play big support to promote the new market.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) initiated several scoping missions to Brazil, Mexico and Chile to enter Latin American countries.

Major markets such as Australia, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Korea, Russia, India and even middle-eastern countries like the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain should also be considered as they are among the markets with high potential that remain largely untapped.

Although we have advanced a lot in safety and sustainability, Bangladesh’s garment industry lacks diversification. To be competitive in the race of this fast fashion arena, we need to flag out market and product diversification as an immediate need.