For many of the BTT readers it is important to know what the buyers and their representatives are thinking. How they are making their strategy are important as well. Textile & Apparel sector in the country being a buyer driven industry, it is important to have their say here in BTT. And so from now onward, we will bring exclusive interviews from buyers here in this section.
This time we are happy to present Mr. Iftekher Hasan Masum, Country Manager, SRG Apparel PLC. Mr. Masum has been working in this sector for long hence he is well built with his in-depth understanding of the value chain.
SRG being a leading apparel importer to UK and Europe is having number of brands mainly for menswear. The company was established in 1999 and continued to grow every year. Over the years SRG has increased its sourcing from Bangladesh and so they look to the next three years intending to triple their sourcing from Bangladesh. As it is for many other brands, Bangladesh remains to be the key focus of their sourcing even after current problems the country has suffered.
BTT: What are the product ranges you are working with now?
Masum: We do most of the regular apparel items from Bangladesh including knitwear, woven garments& sweater. We also import leather accessories some of which are used along with clothing items and others being sold separately in our customer base.
BTT: How is your business moving on now?
Masum: After some political and other turmoil including accidents in Rana&Tazreen, we expect that good environment for business will be continued. Our business in Bangladesh is growing and we look forward to continue this growth.
BTT: How current political disturbances affected your business?
Masum: As always we tried to cope up with the situation but you know this time things were so severe that it was really difficult. At that time especially in December 2013, we had to adjust with some delivery schedules; otherwise we could manage our business well by the enormous help we got from our supply base. Many of them have run their operations during strikes though they suffered with supply chain issues. Thanks to the special arrangement of sending goods from Dhaka to Chittagong Port, this helped catching many shipments at the last moment.
BTT: How do you see the current export figures of Bangladesh, which shows that even after so much problem RMG export from Bangladesh is increasing well?
Masum: It is quite interesting that Bangladesh’s RMG export has increased through last problem months also. I think it shows how resilient and competitive this sector is? It is the people who are working in the industry, who made it possible. People were running their factories & business amid so great turmoil. But it is important that such incidents do not repeat, as I feel that the industry has already shown its largest elasticity any further shock will really affect the sector.
BTT: And so how do you find current wage hike of the workers?
Masum: Well I think it was an obvious need of the sector. I want to see it positively. Now cost will increase but I don’t think it will be so much as if many of our manufacturers were paying closer wages even before the declaration of the new wage structure. So, I think it will not affect the business so much. Now, to cope up with the increased cost, manufacturers have to look into every opportunities of increasing resource efficiency. All possible savings should be grabbed. Productivity and efficiency must be improved.
BTT: When average wage has increased to around 75%, how that will affect your total product price?
Masum: I understand that there is an expectation from the factories that when the wages have increased, buyers will raise their price for the products. But from my position, I want to clarify that we are in a competitive world where we need to bring business to Bangladesh beating other supply bases like China, India & Pakistan. So, increasing price is not always possible. But of course in this reality price for some products will increase by 5-10% and some others won’t be changed that much.
BTT: What are the key challenges you find for the sector now?
Masum:I think current safety related issues are to be handled very rightly with immense importance. Buyers are looking at this issue very seriously. I think companies here are taking real efforts to improve the safety situation. They require time but they should be in the right line. We always assist our supply base in improving their condition related to compliance & competitiveness.
On the other hand, with the new GSP given to Pakistan and India’s free trade agreement with EU, I find that Bangladesh will face potential challenge on certain product ranges. Bangladesh should look forward to further improve its resource efficiency to remain competitive.