There are not many buying houses in Bangladesh which deal predominantly in ladieswear, but Quality Links Limited is one amongst these rare few.
“It is not due to choice, but more due to the kind of orders that we are getting from our existing clients… My teams are fully geared to cater to this product category,” maintains Najam Ishaq, Managing Director of Quality Links Limited, explaining why womenswear continues to dominate when it comes to sourcing.
Established in 2011, Quality Links Limited is a global supply chain manager with presence in four different countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh. Decentralized management for quick business decisions and all entities operating as independent business units is again something which distinguishes Quality Links from other buying houses. Its Bangladesh arm sources apparels apart from supplying fabrics to many brands in the country.
“We have different departments to handle fabrics and RMG… In Bangladesh, there is still a big gap in local availability of certain kinds of fabrics. We supply mainly denim and non-denim fabrics to names such as Asmara and Pepe Jeans amongst others,” underlines Ishaq. In apparels, his main clients are PI Ocean from Japan and Dezaro from Canada.
“For PI Ocean, orders are voluminous, ranging from 1,50,000 to 2,00,000 pieces per order, but on the contrary, Dezaro’s requirements are limited; the orders are in the range of 2000-5000 pieces per style for overall order quantities of around 20,000-30,000 pieces,” Ishaq informs. He further adds that Quality Links Limited specializes in knits and denim items, basically sourcing women’s denim bottoms and knitted tops (in various styles) from two manufacturing units, namely Asrotex (knit) and Chantik (denims).
Quality Links Limited offers lead time between 90-120 days depending on fabric availability (local or imported)
“As Asrotex is a composite unit with in-house knitting and dyeing facilities, we give them orders on a project basis (from fabric to finished garments)…,” Ishaq confirms, explaining the kind of business model that his company shares with the supplier factory. However, when it comes to Chantik, things are a bit different. Having access to quality mills in Pakistan which cater to high-end fabrics for women’s denims, Ishaq at times sources the fabrics from his home country, unless the buyers have nominated suppliers for the same.
Though keen on increasing the number of supplier units in the future depending on the order flow and volume, Ishaq very well recognises the benefits of working with a limited number of suppliers. “Keeping in mind the kind of clients we are working with currently, it is easier to maintain the required standards with limited number of factories. Also when we give more volume to one factory, quality control becomes easier while the factory gets sufficient orders to keep itself happy, which is mutually beneficial,” says Ishaq. Referring to the Japanese clients whose orders are continuous and in volumes, he prefers to book lines instead.“Usually, it is 3-4 lines which are booked permanently but if orders are very big, we increase the number of lines to 8-10,” says the MD of Quality Links, who has two QCs dedicated for the two units, respectively. Involved in handling the clients from the very onset, the QCs are well at ease in maintaining the standards and quality parameters as per buyers’ needs and requirements.
Offering lead time between 90-120 days depending on fabric availability (local or imported), Quality Link’s FOB for ladies denims bottoms — usually in super stretch fabrics (cotton and poly spandex) – is between US $ 6 and US $ 8, while for ladies’ tops, depending on styles, the FOB ranges between US $ 2.5 and US $ 3. To offer competitive lead time, Ishaq also prefers to book fabrics in advance for the buyers, who have regular orders with minimal style variations.
With a focus to go beyond Japan and Canada, Ishaq is now targeting USA and Europe to increase his clientele, and is already in talks with some clients from France, Spain and USA. “Buyers in USA are more inclined in sourcing from the African countries these days owing to the trade benefits…,” he avers. But he also points out to the fact that buyers are bound to come to the country because of Bangladesh’s extraordinary competencies, price-competitiveness and production capabilities. In fact, he optimistically stresses that the small order volumes are now going to some of the new players like Vietnam, Cambodia, African nations but the big orders are still very much with Bangladesh.
With an undeterred zeal to keep pace with the market expansion plans and to bring in new buyers, Ishaq is further contemplating to form an in-house product development team. “Earlier, we had a PD unit, which was disbanded as the buyers we were working with then did not depend on us for design and development…,” he underlines. But he goes on to add that the PD team can open up new avenues for growth for Quality Links Limited because of the ongoing trend being on developing and displaying one’s competencies, and more so at a time when clients are also expecting players like Quality Links Limited to come up with its own design collections.