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Bangladesh’s apparel industry needs an urgent business transformation plan

The apparel industry in Bangladesh needs to adopt efficient management practices to improve productivity and efficiency to increase its global competitiveness, said experts at a PwC Summit on “Driving Transformation in Bangladesh’s Apparel Industry”. The sector today contributes to 12% of the country’s GDP and it comprises 83% of its exports.

With growing demand from international markets, the growth opportunity for the industry is significant. Manufacturers are embracing newer machinery and production technologies to stay relevant. These, along with skill upgradation of workers have led to a shift towards manufacturing of specialised garments in Bangladesh.

However, a lot remains to be done to outperform global majors in the retail manufacturing space. The export growth rates are fluctuating and has shown a declining trend over the past few years. Productivity in Bangladesh remains low as compared to other garment manufacturing nations like China and Vietnam, said experts at the summit. There is an urgent need to revamp infrastructure too to aid the potential growth of the sector.

Mamun Rashid, Managing Partner, PwC Bangladesh said, “Bangladesh’s garment industry is a key contributor to the country’s growth story. The declining export growth rate has been an area of concern for the industry and policy makers. The ecosystem needs to undergo transformation today. Issues around processes, technology and people need to be addressed together to accelerate growth in the sector. We must adopt global best practices, look out for market shifts and align ourselves to global trends.”

Pallab De, Partner – Management Consulting, PwC India said, “The growth in the sector also needs to be sustainable and environment friendly. The industry has seen a significant rise in the number of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified environment friendly factories and this is exemplary in the global manufacturing industry. The country today boasts of the top three eco-friendly garment factories in the world. Government’s decision to subsidise interest rates to companies intending to set up green factories will provide the much needed boost.”

There is a significant scope to increase operational efficiency in the sector and help meet international standards, experts said.

Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Chairman Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and Former Advisor to the Caretaker Government for Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Education was the Chief Guest at the event.

He said, “The seminar has highlighted the upcoming trends in the readymade garment (RMG) sector well. The better we understand this landscape, we would be able to capitalise on the growth opportunities in this sector.”

He also emphasised on the importance of Chittagong as a business hub and requested the governing bodies, entrepreneurs to work together in order to expand the Chittagong RMG industry. “Government should also undertake some initiatives to provide improved technical education to the workers that could lead to a skilled workforce,” he added.

The summit saw participation from over 50 industry stalwarts and representatives from trade bodies. Fozlul Hoque, former President Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and Managing Director of Plummy Fashions was the key note speaker at the event. S.M Tanvir, Director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Director Pacific Jeans was also one of the panellist at the event.

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