Centro founded in 2006, is dedicated to celebrating design and delivering excellence. The vision is to inspire people with creativity and joy while ensuring sustainability in compelling and memorable designs. Centro’s mission is to establish itself as the most reliable sourcing brand, specializing in personalized and creative designs for fashion and commodity merchandise. It strives to provide precise delivery and exceed customer expectations. Since its inception, Centro has recognized the vital role employees play in adding value to the clients. They are the heartbeat of the organization, directly impacting the quality of its offerings. It fosters a work environment that values and supports our employees, enabling them to thrive and make a positive impact. By embracing the vision, living the mission, and upholding the core values, Centro aims to be the go-to brand for those seeking personalized, creative, and sustainable designs. Centro celebrates design and strives for excellence in all that do, as they believe it is through exceptional products and services that we make a lasting impact on their customers. Recently team Textile Focus met Nicolas Anton – COO of Centro Tex Ltd. and discussed aspects of the overall business. Key discussion points are mentioned below for our readers-
Textile Focus: Could you please share with us the recent scenario of the RMG sector?
Nicolas Anton: Last few years many different factors have come and had a serious impact on the RMG sector, not only in Bangladesh but worldwide. Between COVID, then geopolitical issues such as the Russia/Ukraine war and the recent wage increase in Bangladesh. COVID and the war issue were not predictable, but wages increase was planned for years. Despite those challenges, Bangladesh RMG Industry has been able to grow, maybe not at the level that was expected, but our exports increased by 10%, a good performance when we see the global picture. We have an industry that is resilient, and persistent, so it can take us some time to absorb new parameters, but we are standing and still moving forward.
Textile Focus: According to you why is our Product and market diversification so limited?
Nicolas Anton: Different factors could be involved concerning diversification, it starts first in our mindset, do we want to leave our comfort zone and explore new product categories, from light knit to outerwear technical products the GAP is huge and only a few can see an opportunity to grow and make something different, motivated by the vision of some entrepreneurs. Where there is a challenge, we shall be motivated and committed. So, it starts with the wish to innovate and do differently.
Another factor is the supply chain to make diversification possible. We are still relying on imported raw materials, and accessories when it concerns some specific categories that involve technical woven fabric, specific embellishment, and accessories, where value is added to the garment. The fact that we must import can affect our efficiency in costing or time to the market or both. So, we need investment in the country and reinforce our backward linkage to support our diversification.
Then we also must ensure that our workers receive the proper skills to handle different categories. New categories involve more and more technology, and accuracy due to the level of exigence. Training is compulsory, and investment in the machine/production process must be coupled with investment in humans. Today we are more focused on machines than humans.
Textile Focus: Could you please share the Centro Sourcing scenario from Bangladesh?
Nicolas Anton: I would not say that we have not been challenged by the crisis, during the COVID period we lost in 2 months (March-April 2020) 80% of our orders but we faced it as a challenge and we have been able to recover step by step our activity, it took time but with a good team in place you can achieve it. During this difficult period, we did not dismiss any of our team members, nor cut any benefits, few organizations will consider that “Human Resources” is the most important asset for a company, Centro is one of them.
Now we have been observing war last one and a half years in Ukraine, the impact is not negligible, but we must be resilient. Last 17 years we have built partnerships with our customers, our vendors (garment units, fabric mills) faced together good and bad moments, loyalty paid and still paying. Partnering in business and supporting each other when difficult moments are coming help us to be stronger and reinforce our mutual commitments.
Trading and working for different customers, from different continents, and categories enriches our perception and supports our development as we learn from new markets, and brands, we adapt ourselves and we work to improve our knowledge.
Textile Focus: What type of special product Centro is sourcing from Bangladesh?
Nicolas Anton: I used to say that Centro is a Swiss knife, we can answer different kinds of needs from our customers, in terms of category but also terms of quantities.
Last few years in addition to regular categories we focused on activewear, and sportswear where we could partner with some international retailers. Right now, I would say that we try value-added products, fashion with embellishment, medium/high-value denim collections, outerwear, and footwear.
Centro Footwear was launched at the beginning of 2023 with a very experienced and motivated team, they could easily find their marks in our organization and develop their activity. At the end of last year, our Outerwear Division in the UK specialized in tailoring, we have a lot of expectations for those categories and no doubt that it will be a success.
Textile Focus: How does Centro maintain sustainability?
Nicolas Anton: Sustainability is one of the core pillars of Centro, based on 3 main categories: People, Product, and Planet. We just achieved our first sustainability report, which covers 2022 and we started to compile data to publish the 2023 report. That is a great achievement for Centro, and we celebrated with all our employees a few days ago, 100% of our people are involved, and it motivates us to achieve better results.
We aim to have a 360-degree approach to sustainability, engaging all our stakeholders from retailers to manufacturers, designers, employees, and local communities. We are all concerned so we need to work all together.
Textile Focus: Could you please share the plan of Centro Tex in the coming days?
Nicolas Anton: We are very positive about the future, and we believe that the vision given by our CEO will lead us to achieve continuous development. We do not want to burn stages; we work on long-term plans, but we are agile enough to adapt our projects to some new factors. We know that the future is unpredictable, we saw it in the last few years, and we must maintain our capacity to be resilient, learn, and adapt our structure.
If we must talk specifically about categories as I shared new projects have been launched and we do expect that we will get fruit of those developments, it will allow us to reinforce our capacity to partner with some of our current customers and meantime open new doors.