Under the shadow of green trees, everybody is welcome to the area surrounded by a planned garden, and a quiet and calm lake.
The area has some modern facilities, including a swimming pool, a gymnasium and two multipurpose theatre halls.
This is not a resort or a holiday destination. This is the factory of Envoy Textiles Ltd (ETL), located on 100 acres of land in Bhaluka of the northern Mymensingh district.
This is not a typical textile mill where the owner zeroes in on production and profit only. Envoy Textiles cares a lot about the environment and provides opportunities for recreational activities in the workplace.
The factory has achieved a number of quality certifications, bringing rare honour for Bangladesh.
The US Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2016 awarded the company LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certificate. It secured 80 points out of 110 for eco-friendly initiatives for its buildings, operations and maintenance.
Envoy Textiles began as a dream project of engineer Kutubuddin Ahmed – the chairman and founder of Envoy Group – who wanted to ensure a laid-back atmosphere in the workplace.
“I had a dream. I wanted to set up a factory with facilities for recreation in addition to work. At the same time, I was very conscious about environmental issues,” Kutubuddin told The Business Standard.
To address environmental challenges, he directed the factory’s consulting firm to accommodate necessary facilities in the workplace. This increased the construction budget by Tk20 crore.
After construction was complete, the company started to work for LEED certification in July 2012 and formally applied on January 7, 2016.
“We wanted to achieve the gold status. Fortunately, we got the platinum certification and became the world’s first LEED certified denim textile factory,” said Kutubuddin.
“Because we got the LEED Platinum certificate as well as the Alliance certification, the Envoy Textiles Ltd is now one of the safest textile companies in the world,” said Kutubuddin, who is also a former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
According to the USGBC, 90 garment factories in Bangladesh have received LEED certifications and 300 more are expected to get in the future.
Global textile leader
Having received the Platinum LEED certificate, Envoy Textiles Ltd secured the leading position among all textile mills across the world.
“Envoy Textiles Ltd (ETL) of the Envoy Group is a showcase example of sustainable design and demonstrator of leadership in transforming the building industry,” the factory’s LEED certification reads.
The ETL was set up in 2005 and started commercial production in March 2008. It is now the largest denim fabric producer in Bangladesh, having an annual production capacity of about 65 million yards and employing over 2,800 people.
The ETL was listed on Dhaka Stock Exchange and Chittagong Stock Exchange by issuing IPO (Initial Public Offering) in June 2012. It received AA2 rating by the Credit Rating Agency of Bangladesh.
AA2 rating means the company is of high quality and has very low credit risk.
The company has so far invested over Tk1,375 crore. Of the amount, sponsor directors have invested 45.58 percent and the rest of the amount was realised from the capital market.
“Everyone wants to make their business sustainable or hand it over to the right person. I thought my dream project would live longer if I make it a public limited company,” said Kutubuddin, also a former president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).
Use of new technologies
Envoy Textiles uses “Rope Dyeing Technology”, which twists the yarns into a rope, which is then quickly dipped into indigo baths to better dyed yarn.
The company says it has tried to ensure the best combination of manpower and machinery to achieve maximum output.
It is also the pioneer in introducing robotic technology in the country. The technology is aimed at improving productivity and quality of yarn.
“Such sophisticated technologies require huge investment, but we made it possible. The robotic technology has some noteworthy benefits, such as improved safety, labour cost savings, reduced cycle time and wastage, improved product quality, productivity and efficiency,” Kutubuddin said.
The factory produces high-quality denim fabrics – both basic and premium –and the price ranges from $1.5 to $4.5 per yard.
The lake on the factory premises is used for rain water harvesting, fish farming and fire hydrant. It is also used as a reservoir for water discharged by the ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant).
“To make the factory more energy efficient, the ETL installed inverter in all looms. We installed fibre glass on the roof to allow daylight to enter. Using the heat exhausted by generators, we are re-generating energy,” Kutubuddin explained.
The factory also recovers caustic soda after using it in the finishing process of textiles.
Envoy Textiles is the only textile factory in Bangladesh that got the certification from the Alliance (Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety), a North American brand and buyer forum.
It was awarded with the National Environment Award 2019 and the President’s Award for Industrial Development 2017 by the Bangladesh government.
The company also achieved the National Export Trophy six times, the ICSB (Institute of Chartered Secretaries of Bangladesh) National Award for excellence in corporate governance and ISO 9001: 14001 quality certification. Its products are OKOTEX certified.
Who buys Envoy products
The company sells to many different brands and retailers across the globe. Besides, a bulk of the fabrics is supplied to export-oriented garment factories in Bangladesh.
Envoy exports denim fabrics to Cambodia, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the US, China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
“The apparel industry has become uncertain and challenging day by day, but we get massive numbers of orders from buyers, thanks to our LEED Platinum certification,” Kutubuddin said.
Partners of Envoy
Since the very beginning, the company has developed good partnerships with some renowned global brands within a very short time.
Some of its partners include LEVI’S, Marks and Spencer, VF Corporation, Calvin Klein, American Eagale, Uniqlo, GAP, C&A, H&M, Walmart, United Colors of Benetton, s.Oliver, Esprit, Tesco, E.land, Bestseller, Inditex, lc Waikiki, Debenham, NEXT, Carrefour, ZARA, Tema Turkiye, JC Pnney, Gymboree, TCP, Sainsburys, and Disney International.
Worker welfare and CSR
The ETL’s worker welfare and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes cover more than 50 activities, including medical reimbursement for workers and their families. The workers get birthday and wedding gifts as well as gifts for their newborns.
Also, children of the workers get education scholarships and financial assistance for weddings.
The company provides free accommodations and food for the workers.
All the employees in the company are eligible for profit sharing benefits. The management has also set an unprecedented example by providing 12 annual bonuses so that the employees have the motivation to achieve the yearly profit target.
“We all have received these 12 bonuses multiple times,” said Tushar Roy, who joined as a junior helper in 2013 and is now working as a superviser.
He also expressed satisfactions with the company’s overall facilities.
“It is my first job and I want to work here for the rest of my career. We get our wages on the second last day of a month,” added Tushar.
The company set up a paediatric intensive care unit (ICU) for burn patients at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Four employees of the unit receive their salaries from the ETL.
Dr Samanta Lal Sen, founder of the hospital’s burn unit, told The Business Standard that Kutubuddin agreed to set up the paediatric ICU after they had a chat about it one day.
“The unit has 20 beds and has state-of-the-art facilities for treatment. This is a great initiative by Envoy. If other entrepreneurs did something like this, there would have been radical improvements in the country’s health sector,” added Samanta, who is the chief national coordinator for plastic surgery and all burn projects of Bangladesh.
Hamimur Rahman, the company’s general manager for human resources, said a total of 15 physically challenged persons are working in the factory.
“The management has also decided to continue salaries of a worker if he becomes physically disabled because of accident or any other reason during his employment.
“We, the Envoy family, believe in working together to become the best in terms of quality products, timely delivery and product range,” said Kutubuddin.