From a mere fashion house in 1995 with the vision to produce ethically sustainable fashion, the Armana Group has evolved into a present-day leader in producing woven garments. Adhering to principles of quality, precision and prompt delivery timelines, the group is a world-class specialist manufacturer creating innovative, refreshing and trendy denim fashion.
In a recent conversation with Textile Today, Arup Ratan Chowdhury, MD, JEANS Culture Ltd. and Director Armana Group, unlocked various opportunities and challenges in the washing and denim sector.
Textile Today: What are the recent challenges of Bangladesh garments washing sector?
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: There are various factors which are creating obstacles for the washing sector. First of all, the recent wage hike and increased gas price – it has almost doubled – have hit the washing sector severely.
Also, the worker’s efficiency is far below than comparatively China or India, which is really hurting the whole sector. 5 Bangladeshi worker’s efficiency is equaled to China’s 1 worker.
We must change our mindset, who are prejudiced about a certain number of worker ratio. And adapt to less number with higher efficiency. Competitor countries like China, Vietnam, India, and Turkey producing required chemicals which we can’t, rather, we are importing the chemicals with duties. Though there is small scope for duty-free import but very few companies outside of EPZ getting that benefit. Altogether, it is leading to raise the cost in the washing sector.
Textile Today: What are the opportunities do you see in the garments washing sector?
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: There are a lot of opportunities for the textile and garments sector in Bangladesh as this industry is labor-intensive and we have a huge population. So, this is a very good advantage for our country to thrive in this sector. Our biggest strength is our workforce.
Textile Today: What initiatives should be taken to increase local expert in washing sector?
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: In our textile and apparel industry hiring foreign expats is a major concern. I will say, it prevailed because of the mindset from the buyer’s end. Like some foreign buyers are comfortable in dealing with their own nationals and insist on us having these foreign expats. I do not have any doubt and confusion about our people. If they have confusion then they should improve their communication skill to gain more excellence.
Majority of our young professionals come to the industry with the mindset of working in Dhaka and they do not want to work at a factory. This is not realistic at all. They have to come out from their comfort zone. They should have the mindset of working in the factory and build their career. And I do not see any need of foreign technician for the sector, who are draining our invaluable foreign currency.
Textile Today: What is the most important for sustainable washing process? How could it be ensured?
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: With our conventional machinery, achieving sustainability in washing is not possible. We have to implement new technology like Nanobubble technology to achieve sustainability.
Textile Today: How is washing contributing to make quality denim?
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: Denim is nothing without washing and dry process! Fashionable denim means proper washing process. Without this value addition, a manufacturer cannot survive in the global denim market. And this is how the washing sector is the backbone of the denim industry.
Textile Today: Garments washing consumes a vast amount of chemical. How can a factory reduce uses of chemical?
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: It cannot be done overnight. It has to be done gradually and implementing new smart technologies.
Textile Today: What measures should be taken to reduce the cost of a washing factory?
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: We cannot control utility prices. But we can increase our manpower’s efficiency to cover the increased cost. There is no other alternative to human capital transformation to survive in this competitive global market.
Textile Today: Compared to other countries, Bangladeshi manufacturers get less price, how can we resolve this?
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: First of all, we – Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers – should stop infighting with pricing among us. When we do this, buyers see it as an opportunity to get an order done with less price.
A lot of entrepreneurs expressed that they have to close down their factories by the end of this year. As they are not getting the proper pricing from the buyers and doing daily production at a US$4000-5000 loss. Most of the buyers increased the price only by a cent after last year’s wage increase. Which is really insignificant.
On the other hand, a good number of companies have gone for massive expansion with basic products year after year, instead of product diversification. They are taking order at any price to feed the machines and keep the factory running. This situation is leading medium and small factories to closure. Here product diversification was the way-out for us instead of increasing basic products.
Textile Today: Lastly, give a message for the washing sector.
Arup Ratan Chowdhury: As I said, skilled manpower and efficient workforce are most essential for the sector. Also, we have to be decisive in dealing with buyers. They insist us some additional requirements which they cannot do in other countries. Like beside enzyme effect they also ask for a stone effect, which is not even environmentally sustainable, in addition, it increases our cost.