Interview with Mr ASM Rafiqul Islam

Mr ASM Rafiqul Islam
Mr ASM Rafiqul Islam
Managing Director
Noman Group of Industries
Noman Group of Industries

Incorporated in 1968, Noman Group was originally founded as a trading company in Dhaka as its first venture of business which eventually led the company turn into manufacturing of textile products in 1975 with a vision of contributing the founder’s true leadership for the well being towards the country’s economy. Headquartered in Bangladesh, the Group owns around 14 textile subsidiaries, and employs over 40, 000 workforces. Besides entire value chain in textiles, Noman Group also has diversified business interest in Housing & Real Estate. Mr ASM Rafiqul Islam is the Managing Director of the Noman Group of Industries. He has done his Masters in Business Administration from Independent university- Bangladesh. Born in 1976, Mr Islam is the young entrepreneur with vast practical experience in textile sector. Under his able leadership, the Group has received worldwide recognition and accolades like National Exports Trophy (Gold) for highest exports during years 2002 to 2008 in a row. In a colloquy with Ms Madhu Soni, Sr Editor & Correspondent- Face2Face, Mr Rafiqul Islam discusses on driving factors for improved performance in exports of Bangladeshi textile and RMG.

Noman Group kept its first footstep in textile field over half a century ago. How do you evaluate its presence in this field?

Noman Group is a reputed vertically integrated Textile group in Bangladesh. Our Group started its journey with a vision of establishing itself as the largest textile manufacturer in the world, and today, with continuous efforts to grow in this sector rapidly, it has carved recognition not only in Bangladesh but spanning worldwide markets.

Delegation of authority, humble leadership, vigilant management and persistence in quality, are the core pillars to Group’s success. Maintaining quality and state-of- art manufacturing, our Group introduces itself as the largest manufacturer in the field of Spinning, Weaving, Dyeing & printing processing and Stitching.

Contribution to grow the National economy and employment in vast way is the mission of the Group. As a result Zaber & Zubair Fabrics Ltd (Sister Concern of Noman Group) achieved National Export Gold trophy in the Fiscal year of 2006-2007 and 2007 to 2008 as highest exporter in Bangladesh and the number of employment rose to 40,000 till now.

In Spinning sector Noman Group has highest capacity with 463,600 spindles manufacturing from 8/s to 80/s counts both in carded and combed form supporting both local and export market including knitting and hosiery sectors. With the highest capacity of woven fabrics Noman group is contributing in the sector of Home textile and garments and apparel areas. In Home textile sector Noman Group is the largest in Asia and one of the biggest in the world, exporting in Europe and North America generally, recognized by the Big high-street and supermarkets like H&M,M&S, C&A, IKEA, Wal-Mart, Asda, Carrefour, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl (Germany), Jysk(Denmark) and others. As Warp knitting manufacturer (Mosquito curtains and mesh fabrics) also Noman Group is largest in Asia. In Apparel, we are continuously increasing capacity of producing Twill, Poplin, Canvas and Yarn Dyed Fabrics. Continuous innovations to pace with time help us maintain contemporary products on shelf. Shortly we are coming up with new product line in fiscal year 2011 investing in Denim, Towel and Jersey knitted fabrics.

Walking under light of our Mission Statement -“Quality First, and rests are the consequences”, we, since years, have been achieving performances that the world appreciates.

Can you bring out about crucial movements in your segment, currently?

Time is not that favourable due to volatile cotton and PSF (Polyester Staple fiber) and Petroleum products. The world recession put this sector in big trouble. There are several complications created thereon in both RMG sector and textile. In Textile cotton and polyester fiber contribute 55-60 percent in end product. So whenever it increases, it impacts a lot.

Cotton prices increased significantly in last two years as result manufacturers suffered and struggled a lot. Cotton price raised but retailers/end-customers were not willing to take hike in their buying prices. Last 2 years was crucial time for the manufacturers as they did not get the good prices from the buyers, however, some signs of recovery are also sighted.

To fight the situation, we have framed some strategies. Cost minimization in different areas of production, going for value added product, product diversification, segmenting the product, new markets, and development of new products offering better margins, are several strategies taken.

Recently, we have covered news that the overall textile exports of the country, have witnessed recovery in the month of April, recording 19 percent growth by earning $1.4 billion. What all can be the reasons behind this improved performance? Is that because of efforts made by Government bodies and their policies working in benefit?

The efforts made by both Government and Industrialist/manufacturer. The Government provided Cash Subsidy off in export values. Beside that they subsidized in price/rate of gas to generate power for industrial development and bonded warehouse facilities to the exporter. The other factor is in terms of pricing Bangladesh is competitive due to low -wages. The quality of the product of Bangladesh has also improved a lot. Bangladesh can give better quality product than others. The backward integration is established in producing yarn to readymade garments. Especially Bangladesh did very well producing home textile products including terry towel, knitted jersey, denim product and tops and bottoms clothing. Significant earning came from Woven and knit clothing sectors. That’s why Government declared Textiles as the key sector of foreign currency earning. Manufacturers worked hard and hard to sustain in the market by diversifying new product and new product line extension. They kept their efforts and commitments thus kept good relation with the customers by providing good service level, product quality and on time delivery. Few years before European and North American customers thought Bangladesh is not able to produce good products, but now they are buying more from Bangladesh because of price and quality of products in Textile. Another reason is political stability: Some of the customers move their business because they found Bangladesh market is stable politically and socially.

Do you suggest any areas of improvements in your domestic industry?

Though demand in local market is increasing rapidly, but quantity, consumption and price is not up to the mark compared to Europe and North America. But whoever reduces their cost of production will survive in local market in terms of quantitative sales. Local Industries are struggling to keep their market share but need immediate improvement from Government and Manufacturers sides to increase sales in local market.

In the world map, which regions would you tick as markets established for your business lines? How does Noman Group beat the competition?

Obviously European Union and North America! They are proven and established market in terms of price, commitment and quantity. Noman Group is beating the competition by quoting reasonable price, right quality of product, on time delivery commitment and being responsible in social and environmental policies.

Please tell us about the way your Group takes care of Environment Compliances and Corporate Social Responsibilities.

Noman Group believes in “Business integrated with Social and environmental responsibilities”. Without Social and environmental responsibilities, business is unethical and not legal. That’s why Noman Group invested a lot to keep the working environment safe and secured. Beside that Group has largest biological Effluent treatment plan in Bangladesh to treat the water. Noman Group believes in Living Wages concept and not in Minimum Wages. In Social Compliance Noman Group has a non-profit organization named IAWT. In this welfare trust there are so many projects including schooling, Sanitation, Building houses for poor people and giving donation to the poor workers. Noman Group provides living accommodations for poor workers and laborers. The outstanding example is NG provided bank account facilities in Zaber and Zubair fabrics and provided ATM cards to all employees of Z&Z which created a value towards workers and employees and H&M awarded us as “Best example” and also recognized by Customer like IKEA and others. We have medical facility for poor workers who are not able to treat themselves. Day care center for infants and dining facility is provided to the workers. Maternity leaves are given to female workers. We believe in honesty, humanity and justice. That’s why we achieved certificates of ISO: 9001, Okeotex, BRC Global certification and also Certified by IKEA Asda, Wal-mart, H&M, Disney and others.

Published on: 28/06/2010

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