Established in 1982, Pakiza Group is a fabric manufacturing giant in Bangladesh, which successfully ventured into garment production subsequently and has more than eight sister concerns under its umbrella, namely Pakiza Woven Fashion Ltd., Pakiza Cotton Spinning Mills (Pvt.) Ltd., Pakiza Dyeing & Printing Industries Ltd., Pakiza Knit Composite Ltd., Pakiza Spinning Mills Ltd., Pakiza Textiles Ltd., Pakiza Apparels Ltd., Garden Textile Mills (Pvt.) Ltd., and Pakiza Garments Ltd., serving a host of global clientele in diverse product categories.
Now with fashion retail gaining strong foothold in Bangladesh, Pakiza took a plunge in the retail sector in 2019 to introduce its brand Pakiza Attire. Apparel Resources recently caught up with Rakibul Islam Khan, Managing Director, Pakiza Knit Composite Limited, to get a deeper insight into the Group’s retail vertical and tried to figure out the future scheme of things to popularise and establish Pakiza Attire in Bangladesh and beyond.
AR: Pakiza Attire is perhaps the latest in line among the rising number of domestic fashion brands. When did you start operation?
Rakibul Islam Khan: The journey of Pakiza Attire started in October 2019 when we launched the brand through www.pakizaattire.com, the online store of Pakiza Group. We started by selling ladies garments initially, mostly westernwear, with designs focusing mainly on the current trends in the EU and the USA.
This February, we launched our first store in Shimanto Shambhar shopping mall, Dhaka. As per our plans for the next five years, the focus is on opening at least six stores in different locations in Dhaka, three stores in other major cities of Bangladesh, and two stores outside the country.
Also, we will introduce menswear and kidswear in the second and third year of our 5-year-plan, besides trying to introduce and deliver our offerings online to the USA, Canada, and some major countries of Europe.
AR: These are the starting days for both the Bangladesh retail sector as well as Pakiza Attire. Any challenges that you might be facing at this juncture?
Rakibul Islam Khan: The biggest challenge right now is that of the market. In Bangladesh, the only two cities where retail is flourishing are Dhaka and Chittagong. So, the audience is very small. But there are other cities like Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna, etc., which are coming up, and I believe, in the next five years, these cities can be potentially as big as Chittagong.
The second challenge is that of the retail space. The cost of property and maintenance of shops are very high in Bangladesh as a result of which it becomes difficult to keep product prices at a reasonable range. When prices go up, a large chunk of the population cannot afford to buy and consequently we miss out on a significant number of potential customers.
The majority of population in Bangladesh is in the lower economic class with an income of less than US $ 50 per month. They prefer to buy products which are very cheap, locally made and usually the traditional attires of Bangladesh. However, most of the retail shops are selling products with a higher price range, affordable only to those in the high-middle and high-economic bracket of the society. These are the people who prefer westernwear more, so most of the brands and retailers’ target audience are them.
AR: Ethnicwear for sure still holds a position of eminence in Bangladesh. Do you see any change in consumers’ choice lately?
Rakibul Islam Khan: Yes, with the new generation of consumers emerging strongly, exposure to western culture through internet and easy travel and change in the traditional education system, westernwear is gaining more and more acceptance and in some way becoming a part of our culture.
AR: What are the price points of your offerings?
Rakibul Islam Khan: Currently in our store Pakiza Attire (www.pakizaattire.com), we are selling ladieswear. Prices vary based on designs and basic price range; some of our products are Taka 700 (US $ 8) for Leggings; Taka 700 (US $ 8) for T-shirts; Taka 1200 – 1500 (US $ 13 – 17) for Tops; and Taka 2000 – 2500 (US $ 24 – 30) for Jackets.
AR: You have a very strong online presence; how do you see the overall e-commerce scenario in the country?
Rakibul Islam Khan: E-commerce is increasing rapidly in Bangladesh. Our Government is also very focused in technology and is investing a lot in IT sector of the country.
People are also becoming more accustomed to the convenience of technology and trusting it more and more.
Initially we had opened the online store as a pilot project to gauge the scenario in Bangladesh. The response we got in three months encouraged us to open a store in this short time. E-commerce is growing and is successful in Bangladesh.
Currently we are selling through our website www.pakizaattire.com and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/pakizaattire. Due to the boom in e-commerce in Bangladesh, many young entrepreneurs have become successful in a short time in the country. However, having said that, I would underline that e-commerce is yet to realise its full potential, and to a large extent, people’s mindset is to be blamed for this. People still cannot trust what they cannot feel and touch; so many are reluctant to depend on e-commerce and buy from online platforms.
AR: What are your overall future plans as far as e-tailing is concerned?
Rakibul Islam Khan: Pakiza Attire is our boat to test our journey in e-tailing. And so far from the response we got, it has been a very satisfying one. My future plan is to keep on developing and hopefully by 2021, we will start online sale and delivery to the USA, Canada, and some European countries.
Compared to many major brands, Pakiza Attire is still an infant in retail. I see them as an inspiration, and from their struggles, I take the lessons to improve my company and take it forward.