Most global retail brands have opened their offices in Dhaka in recent times for direct sourcing of Bangladeshâ€™s quality clothing items at reasonable prices.
Buyers say the liaison offices here will raise their capacity to follow up on supply chain management for the Bangladesh-made apparels collected at a cost comparatively lower than other countries.
After China, the worldâ€™s largest supplier of apparels, Bangladesh emerges as a lucrative place for the renowned retailers like US giant Wal-Mart, JC Penny, Zara, Tesco, IKEA, Marks and Spencer, H and M, Uniqlo and Li & Fung.
These firms have already established their branches in the Bangladesh capital with an aim for business expansion, as they now take much more interest in Bangladeshâ€™s readymade garments than they are keen on such items from China, India and Pakistan..
Previously, major foreign buyers used to source Bangladeshâ€™s RMG either from Delhi or Hong Kong or from Islamabad or through the local buying houses representing them.
According to a major supplier, major brands like Puma, G-Star Raw and Espirit are likely to have their branches in Dhaka soon, although they still source ready-to-wear products from other countries.
An official of the Swedish company IKEA points his finger at Bangladeshâ€™s low-cost but quality apparels, which pushed up buyersâ€™ interests.
Moreover, recently Bangladesh improved a lot in compliance issues and made the garment factories free of child labour, he added.
â€œRecently many owners have established effluent treatment plants (ETP) in their factories, as it is mandatory for protection of environmental and ecological balance,â€ the IKEA official also pointed out.
Cheap labour cost is another factor that helped grow buyersâ€™ keenness, said an official at the Dhaka office of another retail brand.
On the objectives of opening its branch office, he said, â€œCertainly we can now follow-up the supply chain management, compliance issues, product quality and design and efficiency of the suppliers very closely.â€
The country is in an advantageous position with cheap and quality apparels because its competitors like China, Pakistan and India are losing out their market share for their higher cost of production, industry insiders say.
Higher cost of production and shifting to high-end products have driven China out of the apparel market, while Pakistan lost its reputation because it has long been a trouble-torn country, apparel makers added.
Meanwhile, Export Promotion Bureau data shows around $3.55 billion knitwear exports in seven months to January of the current fiscal year, a 6.85 percent decline compared to the corresponding period a year earlier. EPB also points out that this figure is also 13.62 percent below the target for this period.
Woven exports also slowed 6.99 percent to $3.15 billion during July-January.
Home textiles and textile fabrics also maintained a negative growth, as their exports totalled $165.65 million and $42.30 million respectively.
When his attention was drawn to such export decline, Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez, former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the financial meltdown worldwide has led to this situation, as major export destinations like EU and USA have been badly affected by the recession.
â€œApparel exports will rebound soon as there are signs of recession-recovery,â€ Parvez hoped. However, he insisted on developing Bangladeshâ€™s basic infrastructures to take the growth in apparel exports to an optimum level.
In this context, he suggested the government ensure regular adequate supply of gas and power to RMG units so that manufacturers can maintain in-time production and lead-time.