Garment exporters now look to conquer local market

After conquering the global apparel market, the country's garment makers have now turned their attention to the domestic market, hoping to repeat their success.

Over the last one year, at least five export-oriented garment makers -- who have been supplying clothing items to Western brands like Walmart, Hugo Boss, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer and so on for decades -- have opened plush stores in Dhaka.

The size of the domestic fashion market will cross $5 billion a year, according to industry insiders.

At present, the majority of the demand is met by local manufacturers, with some items being imported mainly from India, China and Pakistan.

“This is the high time to grab the fashion business in Bangladesh as people are becoming fashion conscious with their rising income,” said Shah Rayeed Chowdhury, director of Noir, a local brand of export-oriented Evince Group.

Noir, which opened its first store in Dhaka eight months ago, has two stores running in the capital.

The company plans to open two new branches in Dhaka by the end of this year and a few more outside the capital after that.

“The response from customers has been amazing,” Chowdhury said, adding the youth are Noir's target. Another successful brand name is Yellow by Beximco. Yellow is not only performing well in the domestic market but also in Pakistan, where it has four stores, said Shehryar Burney, executive director of Yellow.

Yellow was started in 2004 because Beximco noticed that the global growth was shifting from the Western economies to Asia, he said.

“China and India have had seen a transformation where local markets became a strong source of growth and profits for the brands that were able to capture market-share.”

Bangladesh, with its strong economy, is poised to follow the same path, Burney added.

With higher incomes and more prosperity, young consumers are more likely to emulate global trends and focus their consumption on items that enhance their social status, rather than on basic necessities, according to Burney.

Yellow now has eleven stores in Bangladesh, and plans to expand the brand footprint to other countries. 

The company also has distribution partnerships in Algeria and India, and is negotiating to get a brand presence in Thailand and Singapore, Burney said.

 Yellow has a design team led by top designers who have experience at renowned brands such as Pepe Jeans and Massimo Dutti. 

Epyllion Group, which supplies garment items to western consumers, has opened five stores in Dhaka in the last five months under brand name 'Sailor'.

“Bangladesh has a very big market as the country has a big young population, and income is also increasing every year. So, we started the business in the local market mainly targeting the middle-income customers,” said Rezaul Kabir, assistant general manager for business development of the group.

Kabir, without giving his company's turnover, said the sales growth has been above expectations, as the rush of customers is very high, especially during the Eid season.

The majority of the fabrics are from the group's own factories and some are imported. The watches, shoes, belts and other accessories for both males and females are imported from China and Singapore.

Partex Group, which is one of the country's leading denim fabrics makers, has also joined the race.

Showkat Aziz Russell, managing director of Amber Lifestyle, a venture of Partex, said one day Bangladesh would have one of the leading garment retail brands worldwide.

“People never imagined Bangladesh would be the second largest apparel exporter worldwide, but it is a reality now, although we don't produce cotton. We will be one of the leading garment retailers in future.”

Amber Lifestyle carries the company's own garment items as well as imported accessories for both men and women at its four stores in Dhaka.


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