Overseas clothing retailers start lining back at Sri Lankan doors
The Sri Lankan apparel manufacturing sector, which suffered a setback following the global economic turmoil in 2008, has started luring back overseas buyers, who had shifted their sourcing to other cost-competitive Asian countries.
“Mainly, Sri Lanka apparel's overall offer is still relevant with our customers and they have a long and strong relationship with the vendor base here. Sri Lanka's industry has also proven to be extremely resilient under trying conditions and continues to be a reliable supplier”, says Mr. M Raghuraman, CEO - Corporate Marketing & Branding, Brandix Lanka Ltd.
He continued by saying, “Actually Sri Lanka's exports to Europe continued to grow in spite of the recession and the withdrawal of GSP+ benefits. In 2005, when the country gained duty-free status to Europe, apparel exports posted US $1billion revenues in the year.
“In 2009, at the height of the recession, Sri Lanka's exports to the EU stood at US $1.65 billion which was a 3% growth over the previous year and in 2010, despite the negative sentiment created with the removal of the duty free concession, our exports maintained the growth level of 3% over 2009.
“The first four months of this year also shows a strong growth. There are many contributory factors to this sustained growth with key retailers re-stocking their inventory and a number of supplier nations having issues with rising cost and labor unrests etc”.
When asked as to how, they could capture the emerging growth in their key market, he said, “The industry is continuously exploring avenues of increasing the value-add for the customer. We are placed in a winning region as apparel exports out of the region are over US $40 billion.
“Sri Lanka's strategic location and as a shipping hub, offers many ways in which we can leverage the strengths of the region and make an overall compelling offer. We aim to build on offering product design and innovation, value-added services to the regional players and in turn to our customers.
“The decades long relationships we have built with our customers have moved from mere transactional to more strategic partnerships. So by adding more value we are likely to not only grow with our existing customers but also to attract new customers. H&M, the largest and fastest growing European retailer, this year established a sourcing office in Sri Lanka which emphasizes the level of confidence placed in our industry.
To our enquiry as to whether their old customers would have returned and placed new orders, he informed, “Our strategy is to establish relationships with our customers that are narrow and deep so generally with this type of commitment both players are in for the duration. The recession has affected both the customers and the vendor base, but if the relationship is a strategic one, then both parties work together to weather it out.
“So, I don't believe our country has witnessed any customers moving away. If any do, it is if and when the strategic fit is no longer relevant, but as long as we continue to evolve to provide the changing demands of the customer then the business stays and grows”, he summed up by saying.
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India