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Urmi Group’s vision is to grow as a company and set new benchmarks in ethical and sustainable manufacturing

Shamarukh Fakhruddin is a passionate, consumer insight-driven marketer with a distinguished 27-year career. She holds a degree in Business Administration from the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. Shamarukh’s diverse industry experience spans FMCG, Ready-Made Garments, Cement, NGO, and Market Research, including leadership roles at prominent organizations.

Before her tenure as Director at Urmi Group, Shamarukh served as the Head of Social Enterprise for BRAC’s Education Program and as Marketing Director for Lafarge Surma Cement Ltd., Her marketing career was formed at Unilever Bangladesh. Shamarukh’s leadership has been instrumental in expanding businesses, establishing new ventures, and developing high-performance teams with strong trade and consumer engagement.

With a focus on innovation and excellence and sustainability, Shamarukh has consistently driven growth and success. Her commitment to social causes, particularly in education and women’s empowerment, is evident through her active participation in philanthropic activities. Recently team Textile Focus has a conversation with Shamarukh Fakhruddin, key discussion points are mentioned below for our readers-

Shamarukh Fakhruddin
Figure: Shamarukh Fakhruddin, Director, Urmi Group
 

Textile Focus: How do you see the current scenario of the Bangladesh RMG Sector?

Shamarukh: The Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment (RMG) sector is currently experiencing a dynamic phase of growth and transformation. Despite global economic uncertainties, our sector has shown remarkable resilience. The industry is increasingly focused on sustainability and compliance, with many factories upgrading to green certifications. It’s high time to shift towards more value-added products, moving beyond basic apparel to more diversified and sophisticated items. Innovation in production processes, investment in technology, Established Backward Linkage, and Native skills of our women in sewing are our critical success factors. More focused investment in worker welfare and education and developing women leaders in the industry will help us reach the next level like other neighbouring countries e.g. Srilanka. The Bangladesh RMG sector is not just maintaining its global position but is also striving to lead in ethical manufacturing and sustainability.

Textile Focus: Could you please share with us the current status of Urmi Group and what’s your speciality from others?

Shamarukh:

  • Urmi Group is currently in a robust phase of innovation. We have consistently invested in state-of-the-art technology infrastructure and industry-leading software to ensure our products meet the highest global standards.
  • We are among one of the first manufacturers who have started to produce Man Made Fiber which is 6-7% of our current fabric consumption.
  • Urmi Group is the pioneer in seamless production in Bangladesh ensuring the finest products with modern technologies. We are one of the finest manufacturers of Activewears in Bangladesh. We even have our activewear retail brand “Turaag Active” by Wave Riders Ltd. which is widely welcomed by the young generation.
  • We are proud to have a LEED Platinum-certified factory, UHM Ltd, in AEPZ, established in 2012, emphasizing our dedication to environmentally responsible manufacturing. Besides, a couple of other establishments Urmi Garments Ltd. and Fakhruddin Textile Mills Ltd. are in the pipeline to be certified as LEED Platinum in O+M Category.
  • We are the pioneer in using an RFID-based automated tracking system for Raw Materials to ensure optimum integrity and conformance which was recognized at the national level.
  • We feel climate resilience should be one of our topmost priorities and as a part of our decarbonization strategy, we have installed 2.5 MWp rooftop solar PV which will be expanded more by 2024-25.
  • To ensure a circular economy, we have partnered with Reverse Resource and pioneered in recycling a wholesome 230 MT of fabric which has given us a prestigious Circular Fashion Certificate encouraging other industry players to follow the path.
  • To ensure Chemical Sustainability we have adapted industry leading in-check tools such as Cleanchain, Bhive etc. We have a semi-automated chemical dosing system to ensure operational efficiency.   
  • Our commitment to sustainability and ethical production, our strong focus on research and development allows us to stay ahead of market trends and deliver innovative solutions to our clients.
  • Urmi Group believes in diversification and invested in the Agro business in 2019,  AgroSAL Ltd. where we deal with sustainable farming inputs like Mulching Film, Jiffy Pellets, Shed-net, Seedling Tray, etc. to enable optimum productivity in agriculture.
  • Our holistic approach, from raw material sourcing to finished product, ensures quality and reliability, setting us apart in the competitive landscape. We have established a functional ESG department to oversee the Environmental, Social, and Governance initiatives of Urmi Group with both long and short-term focus. We foster capacity-building programs to enhance employee motivation through continuous learning initiatives. We believe such a good employee-oriented culture makes us different from other organizations.

Textile Focus: Our industry now takes the lead by the younger generation, as a director of Urmi Group how do you evaluate this?

Shamarukh: The infusion of the younger generation with blended Leadership under the abled guidance of experienced leadership roles within the RMG sector is a promising and transformative trend. At Urmi Group, we see this as an opportunity to harness fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and a more dynamic approach to business challenges. The younger generation is more attuned to the digital age, sustainability, and global market trends, which is crucial for maintaining our competitive edge. Their enthusiasm and adaptability drive forward-thinking strategies and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Embracing this shift is vital for the evolution of our industry, ensuring we remain relevant and progressive. The young generation is enthusiastic about achieving Sustainable Development Goals such as Decarbonization, Climate Resilience, Net Zero, Women Empowerment, Diversity & Inclusion.

We take “Youth Leadership” as an opportunity to play a crucial role by embedding Sustainability into our day to day business practices. We are planning to take Urmi to the next stage with a significant contribution towards National Priority Indicators.

We have established an MTO program where we give them opportunities to take challenging assignments at an early stage of their career helping them to take a fast-tracked leadership role. 

Since 2019, our active presence in relevant universities has been useful in attracting top talents. Industry attachment and internship opportunities during study tenure give the students useful exposure about our company.

Textile Focus: As a woman, how does Urmi facilitate for empowering women?

Shamarukh: At Urmi Group, empowering women is a cornerstone of our corporate philosophy. We have implemented various initiatives to support and uplift our female workforce. This includes providing comprehensive training programs, ensuring equal opportunities for career advancement, and fostering a safe and inclusive working environment. We have successfully implemented GEAR, SARATHI, and Sudokkho programs in our strategic business units to educate female workers and train them on leadership skills to ensure effective female leadership coming from the grassroots. We conduct employee satisfaction surveys to get ideas about challenges of women empowerment, if any. We address the issues with strict governance to secure fair and equal treatment of female employees at Urmi. Additionally, we actively encourage women’s participation in leadership roles, believing that diverse leadership teams drive better decision-making and innovation. From Urmi, we have sponsored talented female workers to achieve higher education at the renowned university Asian University for Women.  We also offer childcare facilities to help balance work and family responsibilities Our commitment to gender equality not only enhances the well-being of our employees but also strengthens our overall organizational performance.

Textile Focus: What’s your future plan?

Shamarukh: Looking ahead, Urmi Group is focused on sustainable growth and innovation.

  • Our future plans include expanding our product lines to cater to emerging markets and diversifying our portfolio with more high-value-added and sustainable products.
  • We have an expansion plan for our Man-Made Fiber facility, AUTML in the Southern part of our country.
  • For AgroSAL, we are starting to establish a plant for Starch Production at Sirajganj.
  • Investing in cutting-edge technology and enhancing our digital capabilities is another priority to ensure we stay at the forefront of industry advancements. We are also planning to introduce more automation in the production process like Motion Movement Analysis to increase efficiency.
  • We are moving to a Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR) based Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) from the conventional biological one for efficient wastewater treatment.
  • We are also planning to adopt some industry leading ESG data management tools e.g. RTIS, SATTVA to ensure Target are set for Scope 1, 2, 3 GHG scientifically.
  • We have a further advancement plan of Rooftop Solar PV with 2 of our projects with 0.5 MWp capacity by 2024-25.
  • We shall commit for SBTi in October 2024 and planning to declare the target of decarbonization by June 2026. 

Our Latest Sustainability Projects:

image

a long-term project of community afforestation.

a holistic project to clean the water bodies for habitat restoration.

Additionally, we plan to strengthen our community engagement and social responsibility programs, continuing to contribute positively to society.

Our vision is to grow as a company and set new benchmarks in ethical and sustainable manufacturing.

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