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“The Sweater Industry alone Can earn US$ 25-30 bn if we can Successfully Invest in the Backward Integration” — Abdullah Al Mamun, Business Unit Manager, Marks & Spencer

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The sweater industry of Bangladesh is developing day by day. Recently, Team Textile Focus had a conversation with Abdullah Al Mamun, Business Unit Manager, Marks & Spencer talked about the story behind the Development, Challenges, & Recommendations for this industry.

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Development of Bangladesh’s Sweater Industry: Sweaters has seen a double-digit increase in product penetration out of the total RMG exports of Bangladesh. This is mainly contributed through the business migration happening from China largely and from countries like Cambodia and Vietnam. It’s a great opportunity for the Bangladesh RMG sector to capitalize and make sweaters an integral part of the RMG export targets. In my view below points are critically important to boost up the product category.

Vertical support-  Bangladesh is heavily dependent on imported yarn for this product category. Investing in yarn manufacturing and dying will play a significant role. While there are few mills that are stepping up fast for the challenge with core yarn qualities, it is also important to move on the fashion yarn in order to bring Value addition and sustain the product in the country for a longer period.

Technological Development in BD Sweater Industry: Industry has invested considerably and moved away from traditional knitting to fully automated machines (German/ Japanese and Chinese machines). 3-D sampling brings a brilliant improvement on sample submission which is eventually reducing the CP, Next big thing would be on whole garment technology. Most manufacturers are also investing in digitization from virtual sampling, fitting, and also on ERP solutions for further optimization and as a sustainable way forward. On product, Bangladesh has to focus on more innovative, sustainable, and technical products which will help in competing with the price pressure and leveraging over the product diversification and up-gradation.

Challenges and way our of Bangladesh Sweater Industry: From my perspective, 1st challenge for this industry is – “Vertical supply chain or inshore yarn sourcing” which can be overcome by Encouraging investments in yarn manufacturing through investor promotion and attractive capital investment schemes and JV’s with prominent material suppliers from China/ Europe/ India. 2nd challenge is – “Technical expertise/capabilities on high-end complex products” which can be overcome by – Investing in expatriates for immediate support and training & development of talent within. The next challenge is – “Offseason on the traditional sweater product” which can be overcome by doing product diversification using the same technology in offering products for the lean season.southeast-sweater-ltd

But the biggest challenge for the industry to grow the backward integration, especially yarn spinning, as currently, almost 99% of the blended and high-end yarn comes from outside the country, mainly China. Unless Bangladesh can find ways to invest in this area, the growth will be limited, as we cannot match the lead time offered by China, Myanmar, and Cambodia. However, if we can successfully invest in backward integration, the industry can quadruple in double quick time, we can become $ 25-30 billion in sweaters alone which is currently just over $6.0 Billion.

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