Intertek yesterday opened a testing laboratory in Dhaka to support the country's growing garment industry.
The company listed on the London Stock Exchange tests quality of industrial products and provides certificates on compliance.
The Dhaka lab, the company's biggest in Asia, will provide one-stop services for diverse industries in the region, the company said in a statement.
The plant will test fabric samples, apparel, footwear, home furnishing and electrical appliances for hazardous elements and chemicals. It will also provide calibration, inspection, auditing and training services.
The lab will help the country reduce lead time and enhance trade competitiveness globally, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said while inaugurating the facility sprawling over one lakh square feet in Tejgaon.
“The elaborate testing facility is the need of the hour to overcome capacity constraints and take full advantage of the growing business volumes in the region,” said Rajesh Saigal, regional managing director of Intertek South Asia.
The company invested 3.2 million pounds to set up the laboratory that can deliver more than 1,000 reports daily, Saigal told The Daily Star.
“This will help the exporters of different regions reduce the lead time in testing to a huge extent and acquire the test results faster,” he said.
Bangladesh is an important hub for softlines business as it is the second largest garment exporter after China in the world, said Calvin Yam, senior vice president of Intertek Global Softlines.
Many foreign companies are now relocating their businesses from China to other countries with lower production costs, which created an immense opportunity for Bangladesh, he said.
The lab will not only sharpen the competitive edge of regional clients but also help them gain competitive advantage and ensure achieving acceptable standards for international buyers, said Karthik ND, director of Intertek Bangladesh. The lab will give a boost to Intertek's 14-year journey in Bangladesh, said Robert Gibson, British high commissioner to Bangladesh.
In cumulative terms, the UK remains the second largest foreign investor in Bangladesh with about $2 billion worth of investment, which accounts for 10 percent of the overall foreign investment in the country, he said.
Bangladeshi garment makers have to send samples in Hong Kong, China and India for checking quality and other compliance issues due to the absence of a comprehensive testing lab in the country, said Md Shahidullah Azim, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The new lab will certainly benefit the apparel makers by minimising the time for such testing, he said.
Azim, however, urged Intertek to set reasonable prices for their services.
The company charged clients based on the nature of services, said Madhumita Guha, business development and marketing head for Intertek South Asia.
Intertek takes $100-$400 for auditing, Tk 1,000-Tk 10,000 for testing and Tk 1.5-Tk 10 lakh for ISO certification, Guha said.
The company started its operation in Bangladesh with 50 employees in 2000. Now it has around 600 employees.
The country shipped clothing worth $21.5 billion in 2012-13, amounting to nearly 80 percent of the overall exports.