MD Eleash Mridha underlines various steps undertaken by the company to keep the momentum going; dwells on the challenges and bottlenecks too
A sister concern of PRAN-RFL Group, Chorka Textile Limited – headed by Eleash Mridha as the Managing Director – is a strongly emerging player in lingerie (intimatewear) that caters to the whole range of intimatewear – including bra, panties, swimwear, boxers, shapewear, sleepwear and vest in men’s, women’s and kids categories.
Operating from its 70-line Gold-certified Green facility (at Kazir Char by the banks of Shitalaksha River, Narsingdih) and established in 2013, Chorka Textile Limited, which primarily supplies to US and Europe alongside Canada and Russian markets (and counts names such as Women Secret, Debenhams, H&M, Aldi, Primark, etc., amongst its clientele) is going to add 30 more lines; thanks to the increasing demand for intimatewear. “We have placed orders for the machines already and are now recruiting the operators. Hopefully the new lines would be operational by the end of this year…,” says an optimistic Mridha, who sees in the business shift from China, a whole new spectrum of growth opportunity.
“Earlier, most of the buyers sourced nearly 70 per cent of their total requirements from China while 15 per cent came from Africa, and the remaining was made up by this subcontinent (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India). But now they are focusing more on Bangladesh, and this is a huge opportunity for the lingerie manufacturers here,” underlines Mridha while maintaining that notwithstanding the business shift China still remains a preferred choice for blended and synthetic lingerie, while Bangladesh, blessed with cheap and abundant manpower coupled with local availability of cotton, is taking rapid strides in cotton and cotton-based innerwear.
Vertically-integrated with in-house spinning, dyeing, printing (including digital printing), embroidery and accessories and monthly production capacity of four million pieces of garments (50 per cent of which are boxers and panties) including 3,00,000 pieces of bra along with allied knitwear items, Chorka Textile Limited is also witnessing a surge in order volumes from the existing buyers lately. “…The buyers on an average are increasing the order quantities by almost 25 per cent annually, which is sufficient to fill up the capacities,” explains Mridha. Shifting from exclusive production of men’s boxer to adding panties and bras in the product portfolio is another reason for the increased order inflow, Mridha feels.
Despite the growth opportunities and prospects, the MD of Chorka Textile Limited finds scarce local availability of accessories – essential for value-addition and command better price points – a massive shortcoming. “For bra, in particular, we need at least 18 accessories and only 5-6 items are locally available. The rest we have to import from China,” rues Mridha, who is comparatively better placed than many other players in this product category owing to his in-house moulding facility. “Sometimes the clients provide us the size and design and we make the cups accordingly,” says Mridha, who is also not very upbeat about the manpower availability, technically well-heeled and proficient to handle this critical product category.
Any investor can get new and upgraded machines but what about the operators who would handle those, asks Mridha. Bringing in expats is not a feasible and enduring solution either. “…A lot of people are hiring technical experts from Sri Lanka and other countries. While being expensive, expats are also not a solution for long-term business growth and development,” Mridha underlines. Aiming to address this predicament, Chorka Textile Limited has decided to come up with its very own training facility.
“We’ve also started our own training school… We recruit fresh girls from the nearby villages and train them up as sewing operators. After the basic training, they are taken to the production facility to impart real-time feel and experience of garment manufacturing. After practicing in the production facility for a year, advanced technical training is provided after which they are absorbed in the organization,” explains Mridha.
Able to address the existing bottlenecks effectively, Mridha feels Bangladesh stands a very good chance to excel and prosper in lingerie. “The basic knit market has been shrinking with the exception of intimatewear. Despite being smaller in size compared to other products, lingerie needs a lot of machines and manpower for diverse operations… For a bra line, I had to install at least 32 machines whereas for T-shirt, 15 machines are enough. Other than Bangladesh, no other country can afford such a huge manpower and at a cheap rate,” maintains Mridha, who is eyeing to become one of the biggest players in intimatewear in the coming days.
Registering year-on-year growth of around 25 per cent and earning about US $ 50 million yearly from intimatewear alone, Chorka Textile Limited is meticulously preparing the grounds to maintain this growth curve going, which is evidenced in addition of a PD team (for fabrics and product innovation) to add value and remain viable to the buyers and market requirements.
“Sports bra is another product to look forward to in intimatewear… This would be a prime growth driver for the future…,” signs of Mridha on a positive note.