A new era is dawning in the manufacturing industry as local companies are putting their best foot forward towards building a ‘Made in Bangladesh’ brand.
One such brand is Symphony, which is going neck and neck with foreign companies to grab a bigger pie of the smartphone market that was dominated by imports until recently.
The company is assembling about 1.5 lakh smartphones every month in its plant in Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka and has been meeting all its local demand from the plant since June last year.
The factory is also making basic phones at such a pace -- currently 1.25 lakh units a month -- that no imports would be required by the year end, said Jakaria Shahid, managing director of Edison Group, Symphony’s parent company.
“We stopped importing smartphones last June and our target is to meet the entire local demand from our plant by December this year.”
The plant currently manufactures about seven to eight lakh units of basic and smartphones every month, according to Shahid, also the general secretary of the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association.
In the face of rising demand, the company is working to expand the plant’s capacity and build two more units, he told journalists, who were taken to Ashulia for a tour of the factory.
“The two new plants should be ready by 2022 and then we will seek to explore export opportunities.”
Symphony, which has a market share of 30 per cent, is splashing out about Tk 100 crore for the three plants.
They also have a plan to make mobile accessories, which will go some way towards building a total value chain for mobile assembling.
“We will develop software, mobile applications and games as well, while the plants will churn out about two lakh units of accessories.”
The factory is now adding 20 per cent value to the products and that will rise to 30 per cent over the next five years. The government offered huge tax benefits for mobile assembling in fiscal 2017-18 after which seven plants were set up in Bangladesh, with another two in the pipeline.
Symphony -- which began its journey in 2008, becoming Bangladesh’s first mobile phone brand -- has been leading the market for the last five years but has now shifted focus to handsets in the price range of Tk 4,000 to Tk 8,000.
The main demand lies in this segment, Shahid said, while urging the government to assess the market before giving licences for new plants.
“The quality of our phones is better than those made in China,” said Md Maksudur Rahman, senior director of business operation at Edison Group.
About 3.10 crore handsets were sold in 2019, of which 80 lakh were Symphony’s, said MA Hanif, head of sales.