Bangladesh has become a hotspot for denim products sourcing thanks to the country’s expertise in denim manufacturing and competitive advantages due to low production cost.
Meanwhile, China has lost its grip in the denim sector to some extent due to a rise in the production cost. This change in Chinese denim sector is diverting more orders to Bangladeshi denim exporters.
“Right now, we are getting a large number of orders from the international buyers. This is because China is moving away from low-end products,” Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury, general manager (operation) at Square Denim, told the daily sun.
“The number of orders increased by 20-25 percent in a year,” he added.
“Currently, our production capacity is 1.5 million yards a month, which will increase to three million from next month since the demand is continuously rising,” Sayeed Ahmad said.
He said to make a good use of China’s backtrack on low-end clothing, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs should focus to tap this opportunity by taking more orders for low-cost products.
“But it’s also time to bargain with buyers and brands for fair prices of products,” the general manager of Square Denim said.
Currently, 30 denim mills are producing 435 million yards of fabrics a year.
However, the local manufacturers can meet only 40 percent of the demand and the rest is met through imports from China, India and Pakistan.
At least six new denim mills are scheduled to come into operations in Bangladesh with investment worth $100 million in the next two years, according to sources in the industry.
“Amid the rise in the demand from the garment makers, investors are putting more money in the denim sector. The responses are huge from both the local millers and foreigners,” Mostafiz Uddin, the organiser of Bangladesh Denim Expo, a two-day fair that began in the capital on Wednesday, told the daily sun.
The two-day fair ended on Thursday. A total of 65 exhibitors from 12 countries participated in the fair held at International Convention City Bashundhara.
Mostafiz Uddin said, “ In the Last fiscal, Bangladesh exported denim goods worth $2 billion. The investment in denim sector is more than $1 billion every year and people are showing interest to invest in this sector.”
“However, I would suggest the investors not invest in basic denim fabrics. We need very fine fabrics for producing very high-end denim items as we are already very strong in basic denim manufacturing,” he added.
Not only local entrepreneurs, many foreign companies have also opened offices or manufacturing unit in Bangladesh as the country has become a hotspot for denim sourcing.
Landes, a German denim accessories maker, started production in its new factory at Savar this month.
“We opened the factory in Bangladesh as we think this is a new hub for denim business and there is a very good business prospect here,” said Manfred Slowik, chief operating officer of Landes.
The firm has already invested $0.5 million in the new factory and employed 30 people at the plant.
Landes is targetting target to produce 500 million pieces of leather patches, which is used in denim trousers as an accessory, a year at the Savar plant from where the items will be supplied to the entire Asia region.
Our customers include big brands like H&M, Levi's, Marks & Spencer, VF and Walmart, Slowik said.
Nezahat Boni, senior account manager of Orta, a Turkish denim fabrics maker, said her company supplies three million metres of denim fabrics in Bangladesh a year.
“We opened an office in Bangladesh in 2011 as we could not ignore the importance of this denim hub,” Boni said.
In 2011, Orta sold 800 metres of denim fabrics and now the volume reached to three million metres in a year, Boni said.
Md Mujibul Hoque, Bangladesh chapter Sales Director of Chinese Prosperity Textile, said they opened their Dhaka office last year.
The company sells four million yards of denim fabrics in Bangladesh. His company has a target to sell 40 percent of his company’s 100 million yards in a year.
With the higher demand for denim, Bangladesh has overtaken China to become the largest denim supplier to the European Union, which the exporters said would give a thrust to the garment sector's efforts to hit $50 billion in exports by 2021.
Bangladesh exported €567.97 million worth of denim products to the European Union during the January-June period of 2016.
The country has also become the third largest denim supplier -- after China and Mexico -- to the US.
It exported $186.30 million worth of denim products to the US, registering a 12.03 percent market share, eclipsed only by China (26.04 percent) and Mexico (25.40 percent).
The headway has been possible because of the millions of dollars that the local denim fabrics makers invested to set up state-of-the-art facilities in their plants.
Bangladeshi exporters supply denim products to major global retailers including Levi's, Diesel, G-Star RAW, H&M, Uniqlo, Tesco, Wrangler, s.Oliver, Hugo Boss, Walmart, and Gap. Annually 2.1 billion pieces of denim are sold globally, according to Bangladesh Denim Expo, the organiser of the exposition.
In 2014, the size of the global denim market stood at $56.20 billion. By 2020, the global denim market will reach $64.1 billion, while Bangladesh's denim export is forecasted to reach $7 billion by the end of 2021. It is estimated that the global denim market will grow by about 8 percent a year until 2020.