Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Specialised garment exports on the rise

Bangladesh-made tents, sleeping bags and military uniforms see huge demand

Bangladesh has become a lucrative destination for the international buyers of technical clothing as the country offers lower prices, exporters said.
Tents, fire-hydrant jackets, sleeping bags and uniforms for army personnel top the international buyers’ demand list of such items.
The US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden, the UK and South Africa are the major customers.
Of the $600 million tent market worldwide, Bangladesh has 60 percent share, according to a senior manager of the Chittagong-based Korean factory, HKD.
The country now meets 55 percent of the total demand for tents in the US.
Majority of the manufacturers of technical clothing, however, are foreign ones like HKD, who were compelled to shift their production units to Bangladesh from China due to escalating costs there.
Previously, China was the main supplier of tents to the US market, but now Bangladesh has grabbed the market.
Recently, Korea and Brazil have also emerged as potential markets for Bangladeshi tents.
Last year, HKD exported tents worth $100 million, and this year, it already has orders worth upwards of $120 million, the official said, asking not to be named.
Mashrul Anwar, a commercial manager of Usebio, another Chittagong-based factory, said the response from international buyers has been “very high” because of reasonable prices.
Bangladesh produces mainly high-quality tents that sell at $200 per piece. Similar quality ones from elsewhere retail at $300, Anwar said.
Sleeping bags, another non-traditional item for Bangladesh’s garment manufacturers, are witnessing a surge in export orders due to the competitive prices being offered.
Bangladesh exported sleeping bags worth $7 million in 2012, up by 40 percent from 2011, with industry people tipping this year’s sum to be not less than $8 million.
Usebio, HKD, Ofma and a few other companies make sleeping bags in Bangladesh.
A number of companies in Dhaka Export Processing Zone make uniforms for army personnel of different countries, according to Ashraful Kabir, general manager of the Dhaka EPZ.
Satexco, a garment company in the EPZ, has been supplying uniforms to the British army for the last 11 years, company officials had said earlier.
Besides uniforms, the company also supplies army jackets, rucksack, webbing, ammunition pouch, water containers, bayonet holders, pistol holsters and heavy tents.
Satexco also supplies camouflage dresses, dark olive-coloured dresses, winter jackets, light desert uniforms, wind proof jackets and normal jackets to the army.
However, space constraints and utility crisis pose to check the growth of this sub-sector.
“A lot of foreign investors, especially from China, are coming to Chittagong Export Processing Zone to set up factories. But, it is getting difficult to accommodate them,” said ASM Abdur Rashid, general manager of the EPZ.
“Now we are encouraging the foreign companies to invest in other EPZs,” he said.
The share of specialised or technical garments in the total apparel exports from Bangladesh is rising gradually, Rashid said.