H&M is always the trusted partner of the Bangladesh garments sector and it has been proved it again during this COVID-19 pandemic. Every year H&M sources more than $3bn worth of garments from Bangladesh.
With an unprecedented global crisis, this year the global apparel business may fall by 30% according to the industry insiders.
Textile Today had an exclusive interview with Ziaur Rahman, the first-ever Bangladeshi citizen to be the Regional Head of the Swedish fashion brand H&M for Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Here is a keynote of the interview for Textile Today readers:
Textile Today: How are you evaluating this COVID-19 critical situation for the Bangladesh textile and apparel industry? Will H&M reduce its order flow in Bangladesh in the next quarter? If yes, how much in percentage?
Ziaur Rahman: While the full implications of COVID-19 are yet to be experienced, the drop in customer demand will inevitably have an impact on production levels. However, we have no plans to change our sourcing strategy and Bangladesh will continue to be an important production market for us. We kindly decline to comment in detail about future sourcing.
We welcome if suppliers find ways to support in these times of COVID-19 and that they take the opportunity to adjust their business to a new reality.
Textile Today: Ethiopia and Vietnam are on a vantage-ground rather than Bangladesh amid this pandemic. Right now what should be the strategy for Bangladeshi manufacturers to hold its ‘2nd Position’?
Ziaur Rahman: Bangladesh has many strengths as a production market. One aspect that makes Bangladesh different from some other production markets is the strong local entrepreneurship. The industry was born and continued to grow thanks to local entrepreneurship.
Textile Today: Entrepreneurs are thinking of a move to protective gear production, how H&M will help the manufacturers in this regard by technical know-how and business generation?
Ziaur Rahman: We welcome if suppliers find ways to support in these times of COVID-19 and that they take the opportunity to adjust their business to a new reality. As always, we are willing to support our suppliers with our know-how about the textile supply chain.
Textile Today: Online retailing is booming/will boom, what H&M foundation planning for future business?
Ziaur Rahman: In view of the ongoing transformation of fashion retail, we have been making significant and necessary investments for several years to secure the H&M group’s position and long-term development. Among other things, we have invested in digitalization and in tech infrastructure. We are now seeing multiple positive effects of these initiatives, providing resources and support for our continued transformation work.
Our highest priority is to ensure the best customer offering for all our brands and we will continue to invest going forward in order to offer the best combination of fashion, quality, price and sustainability. Customers’ expectations are increasing at an ever-faster rate, and this applies not just to our assortment. To continue to be relevant to our customers, we will continue to improve the shopping experience, both online and in our physical stores.