Bangladesh has a unique mix of lingerie manufacturers – old and new alike, but each one with a different business strategy. Intimate Apparels Limited (which established the Bangladeshi concern of the Indonesian pioneer in bra manufacturing, PT Busanaremaja Agracipta, setup by SL Uttam in 1994) with manufacturing facilities in both Bangladesh and Indonesia, is one of the established names in intimatewear that has carved its niche based on value-added fashionable products to differentiate from the new and upcoming players.
“The market here in Bangladesh has been changing as a substantial number of new players have emerged over the years. We’ve lost the basic products’ market to the newcomers as they are offering very low prices in order to survive and sustain… We’re focusing more on value additions now,” maintains Vijay Uttam, CEO, Intimate Apparels speaking to Apparel Resources, adding, “The big and established players are increasingly targeting the high-end customers who have demand for fashionable and high-quality offerings while the new players are sticking to the basic items.”
Located at Karnaphuli EPZ in Chittagong, Intimate Apparels is spread over 220,000 sq. ft. (3300 workers and staff), with machine strength of 2500 (48 bra lines, 48 lean bra and 48 lean panty modules planned) and monthly production capacity of 1.8 million pieces of assorted items, including brassieres, panties, camisoles, swimwear, bonded garments, shapewear, etc. to cater to wide range of clientele including names like K-mart, JCPenney, Bestform Lingerie, Carrefour, Hanes Brands INC, KappAhl, Next, Lidl, Ann Summers, Zivame, Fruit of the Loom, C&A, etc.
Blessed with in-house fabric moulding, bonding, laminating, foam moulding facilities, etc. the intimatewear manufacturer accredited with WRAP (Gold), besides other certifications like BSCI, Sedex, Socam, Alliance (substantially completed CAP), Accord (recognize Alliance result), Oeko-Tex 100 and OE100/GOTS (organic cotton), have focused its attention on value additions through Product Development. “We are doing a lot of embroideries, innovative printing, usage of constructed sewing materials and fancy accessories…,” explains Vijay, adding, “In terms of accessories, the scenario has improved a lot in Bangladesh. There are many vertically-integrated players who also have their in-house accessory manufacturing facilities.”
Company’s CEO dwells upon market scenario and Bangladesh’s prospects while also underlining Intimate Apparels’ business strategy in intimatewear
Some of the new-entrants in intimatewear have also set up facilities to address the issue of scarce availability of accessories locally, underlines Vijay, who has an exclusive design and development facility in Indonesia to help him in the product innovation endeavours.
Bangladesh’s rapid growth in intimatewear according to Vijay is as much due to its maturity and proficiency in handling critical product categories which it can offer at competitive pricing owing to cheap and abundant manpower as it is for the business shift from China, adding to which is the recent trend among retailers/brands increasing their business volumes from Bangladesh.
“Buyers are moving towards Bangladesh because some of the big brands have already started to place their orders here. Besides, Bangladesh has become very competitive in terms of business and product quality especially in lingerie items, which further motivates the buyers to come to the country,” explains Vijay adding that despite the so-called business shift, China still remains a preferred choice amongst the buyers when it comes to intimatewear. “The traditional lingerie hub like China is still the first destination for the buyers. They think about Bangladesh, Vietnam, India and Cambodia only as the alternatives,” maintains Vijay while underlining Bangladesh’s future in intimatewear would depend a lot on its capabilities in effectively handling the business that is shifting from China. “Business outflow (shift) from China is continuing, but are we capable enough to cash in the opportunity…,” asks Vijay, who thinks a lot will depend on the individual players and their capabilities in terms of proficiency, competitiveness, infrastructure and relationship with the buyers, which would ultimately decide one’s success or failure in the long run.
Not the one to miss out on this opportunity, Intimate Apparels is coming up with a new unit to increase its capacities further. “Our current production capacity is 1.8 million pieces per month. Our new factory will be operational shortly, which will take production capacity up to 2.5 million pieces per month…,” signs of Vijay with a lot of optimism and hope.