Evince Group is one of the leading and most diversified independent manufacturing conglomerates in the Textile and Apparel Industry of Bangladesh. Advanced production equipment, strict quality control systems, robust sample development capability and well established design and marketing network are the main strengths of Evince Group for growing reputation in this industry.
Mr. Shah Rayeed Chowdhury is one of the Directors of Evince Group. He obtained his BBA Cum Laude Honors degree in Business Management from Pace University, New York. Upon completion of his higher studies, he had joined the company in 2013. As the youngest member of the board, Mr. Chowdhury’s constant research and development of modern means of taking the company forward, acts as a driving force for the company.
Recently Team Textile Focus had a conversation with this young, dynamic and visionary industrialist. For our readers the key point of the conversation is mentioned below-
Textile Focus: Could you please share with us why did you choose this track & what is your inspiration?
Mr. Rayeed: I was born into this track, I witnessed my father’s struggle for establishing our business day in and day out. Upon completion of my higher studies from Pace University, New York, I stayed true to myself, my roots and my primary goal of returning back to my home country. Although I had the freedom, at the time, to pursue my career in New York; as life would have it, I was always determined to return to Bangladesh and give back to my country and my family. Instead of chasing a name for myself, I began to look for my purpose. This is exactly what I have found on this journey that I am currently on with respect to my field of work.
If I am honest to myself and the readers, I must say that I am here because of my father, who has inspired me to see the underlying potential that still exists within our RMG sector. I admire him, his honesty, humbleness and work ethic and it is only right that I aim to contribute whatever little experiences I might have gained, whatever knowledge I might have acquired to our sector, following his footsteps. At the end, I believe I needed to carry on the torch lit by my parents – not simply to remain within RMG but grow our EVINCE family into an ecosystem consisting of multiple ventures across sectors that might play a role in the development of our beloved nation.
Textile Focus: Young generations are coming into the business, as a young business owner how do you evaluate this?
Mr. Rayeed: Entry of the young generation is a promising, positive indicator for our sector. It shows the desire of the younger generation to return back to the nation after their study completion abroad. The return of the bright individuals who have been groomed in the modern era and equipped with vast knowledge; in the end, we all are on the same mission: to take our country and our sector forward together. Ultimately our customers want to see foresightedness, adaptability and most importantly, continuity. Thus, we who belong to the second generation of our business give a strong indication towards the future of our industry.
However, I feel it’s equally important to focus on the work because that is all that will keep your name alive. We shouldn’t get distracted by glamour and a natural expectation that the next chapter of our story will be successful. You need to know what you’re getting into, the life you’re committing to, other things really don’t matter. Open-mindedness, a sense of discipline and purpose of work needs to be determined. They balance out the ego and pride that comes with achievement and recognition. If we stop learning, we stop listening, and we lose our grasp on what matters most.
“Here we are at the mountain top, we worked hard to climb – or at least the summit is in sight. We breathe thinner air in an unforgiving environment.” This quote by the American Author, Ryan Holiday, is very close to my heart and it nicely captures the emotion of the world we currently live in. One piece of advice to our generation would be to keep your identity small and make your journey about the work and the principles behind it, not about a glorious vision that makes good headlines. Are we suddenly entrepreneurs because we have accomplished one thing? The labels put you at odds not just with reality but with the real strategy that made you successful in the first place. We require purpose, poise and patience.
The young are hungry and ambitious; therefore, the fact that most of us are educated, some of us have had the privilege to study abroad and live independently, gain real world experiences and yet have chosen the direction to return back to our home country and pursue our first generation’s path – with a dream to take it forward; this itself is a blessing for the nation. Although we are eager to contribute in this field, we would require the freedom from our first generation who (I have personally seen friends and family known to me) are afraid or reluctant to allow their children to take over responsibilities with complete autonomy and freedom. However, it is natural as we are regarded as children in the eyes of our parents forever. Even though it’s tough, it must be done to help the second generation grow.
Textile Focus: Evince Group has a vertical set up of producing woven garments, textile & specially Denim, How do you see the denim industry and its market?
Mr. Rayeed: Denim is a basic commodity globally. Customers where we export are wearing regardless of gender or age. The market for denim is steady, ever growing and for customers it’s an easy to wear essential item that doesn’t need to be washed regularly – meaning easy maintenance. We all know and have heard that fashion is what you are comfortable in and what is more comfortable than a pair of jeans.
On the other hand, our lead times are always a crucial factor. As long as Bangladesh has the capability to produce fabrics locally which accounts for about 55% of the total consumption of the export; we are going to be able to save time and deliver goods within 35-45 days after an order has been placed.
This serves as an advantage to the customer; hence allowing the denim market to explore the potentiality to keep growing in the next 10-15 years minimum. In the same manner, if you notice, the knit market is growing exponentially; one of the key reasons being, fabrics are being locally produced which accounts for almost 85%
Textile Focus: In this hard time, what are the challenges you are facing?
Mr. Rayeed: As far as orders and customers are concerned Bangladesh is in a favourable position. US customers are gradually pulling their orders from China because of trade barriers from the United States since the Trump administration. On the other hand, China’s wages are ever increasing and their upcoming generations are gradually losing interest to work in the RMG / Textile industry and the nation is experiencing a natural shift forward due to rapid industrial development. Moreover, Myanmar is another source for customers on whom the EU and United States have placed embargoes due to political crisis and instability. Thus, considering all multiple factors that have come into play, Bangladesh as a sourcing hub is now in the limelight.
However, the issue at hand is low prices. Not because of customers, rather due to our own complications. While members of our business community keep fighting with each other and engage in price wars, the customers take advantage of the whole situation.
Furthermore, another challenge which needs to be mentioned is the delay in Chittagong customs for clearance of goods. It is, however, applicable across all industries.
Moreover, we all need to understand the nature of our business and its subsequent relationship between buyer and vendors. During covid, buying meetings have reverted to virtual means which has resulted in less contact with buyers, less ways to establish relationships and in turn, find more ways to do business. Meetings are short and head to the point regarding price negotiations. In addition, as travel restrictions are starting to get relaxed, we need to work on buyer hospitality and work on ways to attract buyers to visit Bangladesh. The development of Cox’s Bazaar and new resorts across Bangladesh is a good sign.
In addition, ongoing challenges namely unplanned expansions of factories / capacity result in empty capacities, leaving those factories to chase orders at whatever price to fill the lines. Finally, proper exit plans need to be in place to assist all companies who face troublesome times.
Textile Focus: What is your future plan & how will you contribute more to the T&A sector?
Mr. Rayeed: At Evince our primary focal point remains the textile and garments industry. As discussed earlier, we do see this sector as having massive untapped potential. In order for us to remain competitive and keep producing value added products, we are working towards restructuring our management team and work force through proper training and adapting new forms of technology (having said that, it is a vast field which in and of itself requires a different set of questions).
We believe that in the near future, Bangladesh will be the top destination for textile and garments sourcing hub next to China and for that we need to prepare ourselves.
Customers are confident about Bangladesh because of our open-minded entrepreneurs who welcome change and believe in adapting to change; with respect to breaking out of traditional means of doing business. Our entrepreneurs are trustworthy – whatever they commit to, they tend to deliver. Our workers are flexible, fast learners and they don’t have much expectations – as long as the industry timely pays their wages and overtime (what is rightfully theirs), they are happy.
Textile Focus: How do you view the future of our Bangladesh & it’s progress?
Mr. Rayeed: From a political standpoint, Bangladesh is stable, more than ever before and our Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has set not only a colossal vision for the nation; but, she is aggressively achieving her goals one after another. We were in the lower-income middle group and by 2030 we will meet the SDG goal; for which, our Prime Minister is putting tremendous effort to develop infrastructure such as sufficient power supply, the Padma bridge, metro trail, expansion of our international airport – all are evidently positive signals to the rest of the world that Bangladesh is here to make its mark.
I believe that I belong to the so-called “young generation” (for now) and are accustomed to technological advances, ready to embrace the 4th industrial revolution. Personally I feel, to establish positive change in our nation and our industry we need to lift each other up, stand by one another as a community that’s united, a community with a unified goal and shared values. I intend to play my part, however small it may be, to the best of my ability, to give back to Bangladesh – staying true to the promise I made to myself, the country that has given me an identity. Play my part in reaching out to newcomers, sharing knowledge and whatever experience I have gained. We have to understand that we are competing against the world, not against each other; thus, we need to succeed together, not alone. Buyers will not come to Bangladesh for one factory, regardless of how big of a group you claim to be, it is irrelevant. We need to be successful as a community. That is the dream I am working towards..