Interview with Umesh Kalro

Umesh Kalro
Umesh Kalro
Asia Exports HK Ltd
Asia Exports HK Ltd

Skilled labour is an issue in every industry
Hong Kong manufactures very little textiles, importing from neighbouring countries. But its manufacturing industry for fashion accessories is huge. In an exclusive interview with, Umesh Kalro, owner of Asia Exports HK Ltd talks about the manufacturing industry in Hong Kong.

What is the size, strengths and weaknesses of the Hong Kong fabric industry?

Hong Kong is mainly a financial and banking hub. Manufacturing in Hong Kong consists of mainly light- and labour- intensive industries. The manufacturing industry started in the 19th century after the Taiping Rebellion and continues, although it has largely been replaced by service industries, particularly finance and real estate. Hong Kong does not manufacture a lot of textiles. Most textiles are imported from Mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea for local use, or re-exported to other garment manufacturing countries. Hong Kong used to have a few textile mills, but they have now moved to the Pearl River delta region. As labour and cost of manufacturing is cheaper in China, Hong Kong is used as a trading port due to its vicinity to South China and faster connections to other countries by sea and air.

What is the size of the accessories industry? What are the problems it is faced with and what steps are needed to deal with these issues?

The garment trimmings and fashion accessories industries are quite huge in Hong Kong and South China. It is the global fashion industry's trading and manufacturing factory. Almost 60 per cent of the world's garments and accessories come from South China. The industry is growing every year and many more new traders and good factories are coming up. Every problem has solutions. We focus on solutions rather than problems. We take utmost care with our productions to avoid any repercussions. In the past few years, most of the factories which used harmful chemicals closed down and only certified factories were able to sustain business. We co-operate with them for the last 10 years. They comply with international testing standards for all brands in the European Union and the United States of America.

What is the size of the Hong Kong manufacturing industry for fabrics and accessories?

There are not too many factories in Hong Kong for fabrics and accessories. Even if there are a few, they would be one to two per cent of the manufacturing industry.

What threats are weighing China's textile exports down?

Skilled labour has always been an issue in every industry worldwide. Every year after the lunar Chinese new year, labourers go for a holiday of two to three weeks to their home towns. During this period, production is at a standstill. After the lunar holidays, factories face a grim situation owing to the shortage of skilled labour. Some of them migrate to another city or switch to other factories for better pay or conditions. This is during January-February every year, depending upon lunar holidays. Factories have the big task of restarting full-swing production after the holidays, and the process is very slow with longer lead times. Production and business are affected during this time. Every year, shortage of skilled labour is increasing, resulting in Chinese exports decreasing. Other neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are aggressively increasing their exports due to cheap labour.

Which type of weave is the most in demand in the international market?

Twill and poplin are the most common and highly in demand for all sectors of garment industry. In the realm of fancy clothing, fashion changes every year. We see more eco-friendly textiles like bamboo, modal, organic cotton and fabrics made from recycled materials, in trend than ever before. Innovations in the fashion industry are rapidly adapted or modified to keep trends changing for consumers.

How much is Asia Exports HK Ltd worth? Any plans of joint ventures (JVs), mergers or acquisitions?

We have been in business for eleven years, and are growing at a steady pace of 10-15 per cent per annum. For any major expansions, JVs, mergers or acquisitions are imperative. We are well-versed with the Hong Kong and China market since the last 19 years, and been in the garment industry for the last 25 years. Our base as the Hong Kong office has given us an edge on the business front, and we are ready for any JVs or mergers with known brands or known buying house as a sourcing office. It will definitely be looked into for further expansion of our business.
Published on: 30/06/2015

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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