Young leaders of the ready-made garment (RMG) industry have urged both the government and the industry leaders to come forward to address the possible future challenges.
Things can turn disastrous if certain policies and innovations are not adopted both at the government and factory levels. The young leaders made the observation at the roundtable discussion "Opportunities and Challenges of Innovation in the Traditional RMG Business Model" at Dhaka's Banani Club on Monday, read a press release.
Speakers at the discussion agreed that the key problems facing the industry are the unplanned expansion of factories, unavailability of skilled employees, efficiency loss, lack of technological solutions, a communication gap between factories, and financial crisis.
Jashim, managing director of the Anam Garments Ltd, said countries such as India, Vietnam, Morocco even Pakistan are now beating Bangladeshi factories in taking orders and pricing.
Because of that, Bangladesh is experiencing a reduction in RMG export recently, he said.
If the problems are not identified and solved immediately, many factories will be closed in future, he added.
Ehsan Haq, director of Knittex Industries Ltd, said, "We have failed to brand 'Made in Bangladesh'. Other countries are beating us because we have lost our impression. Typically, our factories engage in a war to bid the lowest price; doing so, they sometimes offer irrational price to the buyers just to get the order. This low pricing made the impression that making cost is low in Bangladesh."
"Factories often do it just to earn the operation cost as unplanned expansion has raised the factory operation cost so high that now the factories cannot afford to refuse ridiculously low prices," Ehsan explained.
Intramex Group Director Imran Ahmed Sabid said, "When we invest more than we get, we head towards a price war."
The speakers emphasised the need for the efficient operation of the factories to cut operation cost and maximise production.
Mr Aqib Jafri Sharif, project coordinator of the Northern Toshrifa Group, said, "Data-driven smart management system can be adopted. It will help identify the inefficient parts of the factory and take action accordingly."
"These technological adaptations will be comparatively easy as our workers are very eager to learn new things," Aqib said.
Abrar Alam Khan, director of the Asrotex Group, said, "We need to look forward to technological adaptations step by step."
Al Shahriar Ahmed, managing director of the Adzi Trims, observed that the industry is going through a renovation process where the traditional business model will break down and a sustainable new model will be formed.
He said, "This is the time we need to concentrate on training the workers and managers to run the factories efficiently. We also need to give practical training to our young generation so that they can enter the market for taking it forward. We need to stop hiring foreign managers; instead, we should bring them to our country to train our managers and workers."
AKM Akif, director of the Sans Packaging, said, "We need to have a strong unity within us to bring innovation which will be sustainable."
The RMG marketplace Merchant Bay organised the discussion, moderated by its Managing Director Abrar Hossain Sayem.
On his introductory speech, Abrar said, "The sole purpose of organising the roundtable discussion is to align the perspective of young leaders to take care of the industry."
The Merchant Bay is an internet start-up of RMG marketplace with over 1,000 local suppliers registered and a data-driven order management tool where suppliers and buyers can communicate, trade and manage readymade garments products, accessories, logistics and machinery services.