Sanitaryware sales rising in rural areas

sanitaryware sales in rural area
The market for sanitaryware such as these steel faucets is growing rapidly in Bangladesh thanks to the urbanisation in many rural and semi-urban areas. Although consumers once had to rely on imports for such products, the scenario has changed over the years as local corporations have joined the fray. PHOTO: Rashed Shumon

Just two decades ago, one could hardly hope to see a well-furnished bathroom in the country's semi-urban and rural areas.

The scenario has changed over time as people living in these regions are becoming increasingly aware of good hygiene practices thanks to their improved living standards.

In addition, the ongoing development works and expanding electricity coverage across the country are fuelling the market for sanitaryware, according to industry insiders.

"Rapid urbanisation and changing lifestyle in line with the people's rising purchasing power is driving the market for sanitaryware," said Kamruzzaman Kamal, director of marketing at Pran-RFL Group.

RFL makes various bathroom fittings using metal and PVC materials.

Apart from Pran-RFL Group, Raja Metal Industries, Sharif Metal Ltd and Sattar Metal Industries are major players in the domestic sanitaryware market, which industry operators have estimated to be worth more than Tk 1,300 crore.

Irfan Uddin, general secretary of the Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said there are 18 factories with a total investment of nearly Tk 2,000 crore that manufacture sanitaryware in the country.

Uddin then said the total market size was valued at Tk 1,357 crore in fiscal 2021-22 and that locally made products now dominate the once import-heavy segment.

Besides, the sanitary ware industry has created more than 9,600 opportunities for direct employment, he added.

Echoing Uddin, Kamal said although the market was dominated by imports in the past, the situation changed in the last few years as some large corporations entered the business with quality products.

The director of Pran-RFL Group went on to say that the company's sales are increasing at an average of about 15-20 per cent each year.

However, he said that the recent hike in the price of US dollars has had a negative impact on the industry as the raw materials required are mostly imported.

As such, the cost of imports has increased by some 15-20 per cent in the last few months but moreover, production is being disrupted by daily load shedding and low gas pressure.

"We export our ceramic bathroom fittings mainly to India but we are planning to export metal products as well," Kamal added.

Nazrul Islam, managing director of Raja Metal Industries, which has been making and selling kitchen and bathroom faucets for local consumers since 1970, said business growth has been quite good over the years.

"Many public and private infrastructures was built in Bangladesh over the past decade and more will be set up in the days to come. So, this industry will enjoy more business in the coming days," he added.

Islam said that load shedding is hampering production at a time when operational costs have increased 50 per cent while transport charges are also higher due to the recent hike in fuel and dollar prices.

"As a result, there has been a negative impact on the business," Islam said, adding that local consumers prefer foreign products.

"When they come across a local product, they ask for discounts, warranties, guarantees and what not because they think local products are not good."

But when it comes to foreign products of the same make, they do not even question if a warranty is available or bargain too much either.

"This issue is very challenging," he said.

Islam believes the government should build an industrial park for sanitaryware makers so they can avoid various barriers and concentrate on manufacturing products that are completely home-grown with locally generated raw materials.

"Such support from the government could even help the industry grow towards becoming a major exporter," Islam added.

Akij Group, one of the biggest local industrial conglomerates, invested about Tk 90 crore for a new sanitaryware plant that will have the capacity to produce around 10,000 pieces of bathroom fittings each day.

Named Akij Bathware Ltd, the new facility located in Trishal upazila of Mymensingh will create around 500 opportunities for direct employment, a company official said on condition of anonymity.

The factory, which is equipped to produce some 37 types of sanitaryware products, will be launched next month.

"There is no other company in Bangladesh that has the technology that we will use to make the products," he added.


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