Youngone sets export target higher
Youngone Group, a Korean garment and shoe maker operating in Bangladesh, has set a $440 million export target for the year 2011, a 10 percent rise from last year, said a top official of the company.
In 2010, Youngone exported goods worth more than $400 million from its Bangladesh operations, said Sikder Mesbahuddin Ahmed, director of operations support for Youngone Bangladesh. Its total turnover was $1.2 billion last year.
"Over the years, the growth of Youngone has remained 10-15 percent. This year, the growth might not reach 15 percent. It might be a little more than 10 percent," he said.
But Youngone is expanding its business because of higher demand for products, he said, adding that Youngone hopes the Korean Export Processing Zone this year should go into operation backed by its own capacity as the government failed to provide gas connections. The construction of the EPZ started in 2000 on 2,700 acres.
Production in all the 17 units of Youngone inside the Chittagong Export Processing Zone was hampered by widespread labour unrest in December last year, he said.
"We suspended production in all the units in CEPZ on December 12-13," Ahmed said. "Now all units in Dhaka and Chittagong are running well," he added.
During the restive days, the workers and outsiders vandalised machinery and materials of different units of Youngone in Chittagong. Later, Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authorities (BEPZA) formed a committee to investigate the matter.
BEPZA's Executive Chairman ATM Shahidul Islam said there was unrest for wage implementation in the CEPZ. "But no worker in any unit of Youngone Group was killed or went missing," he said. "We conducted an investigation to find out the causes of unrest," he said.
SM Abdur Rashid, general manager of CEPZ, said there were rumours that some workers were missing during the incident from Youngone factories. "But that is not true," he said. "We did not get any report or witness any incident of workers missing or sustaining major injuries as we have conducted a thorough investigation," he said.
Officer-in-Charge of Bandar Police Station in Chittagong Mohammad Sanaullah said he did not receive any case of workers missing from Youngone. "We did not come across any incident of workers of Youngone missing or anything," he said. A total of six cases were filed after the incident with the police station.
Smreeti Paul, a quality inspector of a unit of Youngone in CEPZ, said during the incident of December 12 the outsiders tried to instigate workers to join the demonstrations. "But we returned home because the management announced closure of the factory to avoid any unrest," she said.
"Now, the situation is normal as the workers returned to work and are drawing increased wages," said an inspector of the garment unit of the group in CEPZ, Nila Barua, who hails from Raujan in Chittagong.