Interview with Mr. A.S.F. Rahman

Face2Face
Mr. A.S.F. Rahman
Mr. A.S.F. Rahman
Chairman
BEXIMCO Group
BEXIMCO Group

Mr. A.S.F. Rahman comes from a pioneering business family that has played a significant part in the economic development of Bangladesh. He is the Chairman of Beximco Group that comprises of 32 companies, out of which 11 are listed on the Dhaka Stock Exchange. The group has diversified interests in the fields like manufacturing Textiles, Pharmaceuticals, IT and Media, Jute, Real Estate, Construction, Ceramics and Retail among others, and is the largest business conglomerate in Bangladesh. Beximco Group's current annual turnover is over US$ 300 million and some of the most prestigious international brands are its customers. With the changing demands of globalization, in order to achieve economies of scale and competitiveness in the emerging environment, Mr. Rahman has been able to establish fully integrated vertical manufacturing operations in a remarkably short period. Beximco today is not only the largest private taxpayer, but also the biggest private consumer of natural gas in Bangladesh. It is also significant employer, with over 30,000 people on its direct payrolls. Mr. Rahman's farsighted vision and stewardship has transformed Beximco Group into a modern and dynamic group of companies with a fully dedicated workforce. Mr. Rahman has chaired many eminent positions viz. Chairman of IFIC Bank Limited, Director of Industrial Promotion and Development Company, Arab Bangladesh Bank Limited, Pubali Bank Ltd. and Investment Corporation of Bangladesh. He has consistently patronized social, educational and sports activities and is presently Member, Board of Governors of North South University Foundation, which is the first private sector university in Bangladesh. He has about 40 years of business experience. Mr. Rahman graduated in Physics from Dhaka University in 1966. He is married, presently 62 years old, and has a son and a daughter. Face2Face welcomes Mr. Rahman to share from his expertise more on strategies which led his company to be a success synonym.

From Fiber to Garment, what has been Beximco’s success route?

Initially we put up large scale manufacturing facilities to produce world class yarn and fabric (woven including denim and knits). As we gained direct market access to fashion retailers, we gradually started converting the fabrics to fashion apparels. We are increasing our apparel production with a focus on key premium retailers and major international brands.

As a garment maker, how do you view your position in the global markets?

With ‘Innovation’ and ‘Speed’ as prime drivers, Beximco has established itself as a leading supplier to a host of International Brands and Retailers, both in USA and Europe. Today, Beximco is the single largest supplier to Phillips Van Heusen who are world’s largest seller of dress shirts, and Zara who are the largest apparel retailer in Europe, chosen as one of three ‘A Category’ shirt supplier in the world to leading US retailer JC Penney.

Bangladesh’s readymade garment industry (RMG) seems to have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this year. Labour and working conditions have been the ‘stumbling blocks’ between Bangladeshi RMG and foreign sourcing companies wanting to source apparels and textiles from Bangladesh. How is your company placed on this front?

A host of world’s most stringent customers in terms of Compliance are sourcing from Bangladesh for years, and Beximco has been working with a number of those for more than a decade now. Beximco has a happy workforce and astoundingly low turnover. More than 80 percent workers are with Beximco for 5-10 years. With better pay structure, excellent working conditions, strict compliance to labor laws etc., Beximco continues to remain a most lucrative place to work. Interestingly, our workers remained unprovoked by the outside agitators disguised as garment workers and were driven out of our factory premises and happily continued their routine works.

How would you justify the fact “your’s is the most modern composite mill of Bangladesh?”

Both in terms of hardware and soft skills. We put up state-of-the-art facilities, latest technology, and most sophisticated operating systems, focused strongly on intellectual capital. Our relentless pursuit for operational excellence, quick response manufacturing converting fiber to garments in as short as 35 days, ability to bring innovative products to the table whether that is 100 percent cotton wrinkle-free fully fused shirt with a D.P rating of 3.5–4, multi count denim, or stain repellent finish etc. has made us a unique supplier in the region.

How does your company insulate from fluctuating market prices of raw materials even as it retains significant profit margins?

As ours is a large-scale vertical facility, we have an edge over others to control cost, enhance operational efficiency etc. and sustain any minor fluctuations in the market place.

Is your company planning forays into flame retardants, industrial or technical textiles markets?

We are already supplying flame retardant fabrics to US Embassy, and working on bulletproof laminated fabrics, waterproof breathable outerwear as well as carbon reinforced industrial wear etc.

What are the latest adaptations and innovations that have been incorporated within the production system of your company?

We are continuously looking for adaptations as the technology changes and innovations as the trend shifts. Lately, we have made many additions in our spinning including compact yarn, computerized machines for making slub, multi count, multi twist, fancy yarn, colored range of fashion mélange yarn etc. We have also enhanced our fabric finishing and fashion garment embellishment capabilities.

What helps global retailers return to your company as a primary source for RMGs? Have you any big plans for entry in this sector locally?

"Vertically integrated facility, efficiency in operation, quick response manufacturing which enables the retailers to reduce markdown, strong analytical and creative inputs as they shift design support to us, also as they seek coordinated support on all categories as bottoms, knits, shirts etc. Our design team with direct linkages to Spanish, French, British, and American fashion houses makes a powerful resource for the customers. With the technical know-how of fabrics, fashion and style, Beximco is in a unique position to cater to the expanding retail market in the region and beyond. Our retail wing which comes under the name of YELLOW, came into existence last year with the idea to bring high quality fashion and life style at an affordable price. Within a year YELLOW now have a number of stores in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Korea."

How well does the recent merger between Beximco and Padma Textiles augur for the future of these two entities?

As you might be aware, some core units of Beximco Textiles Division are now merged together and are operating as one big entity under the name of Bextex Limited. As far as our valued customers are concerned, this has now become a true one-stop shop. On the other hand, better internal communication and coordination, integrated systems etc. have resulted in higher operational efficiency. The effect has been synergistic.

Your company has been a leading one from Bangladesh to hit the stock exchange in London. Further, it has been attracting lots of foreign exchange and internal financial arrangements. How have these plans gone down to effectively make your company a leading player from the region?

With our world class facilities and systems in place, strong market access etc. it is indeed interesting for the investors to join hands with us which thereby enables us to pursue our vision forward. We are very happy at the overwhelming response at the stock exchange in London as well as at the way things are falling into place.
Published on: 25/12/2006

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 Fibre2Fashion.com.

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