Garment exporters are progressively turning their focus on ladies undergarment as they look to boost their receipts by shipping more value-added items.
Even five years ago, lingerie exports could not rake in $100 million but now the receipts easily surpass $700 million, according to industry insiders.
Local manufacturers are investing more and more in this segment to grab a share of the $40 billion global market, they said.
Nearly 15 garment factories started production of the value-added item in the last 3/4 years, according to Momin Mondol, managing director of Mondol Group, which exports lingerie items worth $20 million a year
H&M, Kmart, Debenhams, O'Stin, Celio, Auchan, Next, Primark, Jules and Walmart are the major buyers of lingerie from Bangladesh.
“In January 2014, when we started production in our factory, we used to export less than 70,000 pieces of lingerie a month,” said Eleash Mridha, managing director of Chorka Textile, one of the subsidiaries of Pran Group.
But now the company's monthly shipments stand at 4.5 million pieces, raking in $7 million.
Chorka employs 5,500 workers, with plans to double the workforce as orders keep rising with every passing year.
Mridha went on to rue the dearth of local skilled manpower, due to which lingerie manufacturers have to hire technical people from China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
MA Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, which exports garment products worth nearly $500 million a year, said he will invest $200 million in Habiganj mainly to manufacture lingerie and sportswear from 2019.
“We are heading very aggressively towards that direction,” he said.
Europe accounts for $11.67 billion of the total lingerie market and North America $7.93 billion.
Together they have a combined share of 66.3 percent of the world total, according to a recent report from Research and Markets, a global market research firm.
The percentage share held by Asia is 20.4 percent, and the combined share of South America and the rest of the world is 13.3 percent.