Apparel shipments resume
About 2,000 garment and textile factories have start operations due to increased pressure from buyers
Viyellatex Group, one of the leading apparel exporters in Bangladesh, has made preparations to ship its products.
The factory resumed operations on May 2 after it had shut down on March 25 following a government directive in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country.
"Huge pressure to ship goods has led us to reopen our factories. Even though many orders have been cancelled or withheld, we still have 70-80 orders," said David Hasnat, the company's managing director.
Meanwhile, Fatullah Apparels Ltd has already shipped at least three consignments to its European buyers, over a few days, and has received some fresh orders.
Square Textile Ltd is another industry that has supplied fabrics to some renowned Bangladeshi apparel makers who are now making denim garments for their US and European buyers.
Not only these three industries, about 2,000 garment and textile factories have resumed their operations due to increased pressure to ship goods from their buyers.
Of them, 1,760 are garment factories and 184 are from textile industries, according to the latest data by the industrial police.
Viyellatex's David Hasnat said the factory resumed with 10 percent manpower but, within three days of reopening, the number of workers had grown to 30 percent. "However, we are very aware of worker safety."
"We spent the first week of May assessing which products are ready and how much our buyers require for the shipment," he said.
Viyellatex annually exports apparel products worth about $190 million, Hasnat added.
"The European and American buyers are placing continuous pressure on us to ship their goods which were previously scheduled for February or early March," he continued.
"However, now, buyers also want discounts on goods as most of their sales outlets remain closed," he said.
Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, chief executive officer of Fatullah Apparels, said the shipment of their products scheduled earlier, for late March, was rearranged for the first week of April.
Similarly, May's shipments have been rescheduled for June, he added.
The company is also receiving fresh orders from European buyers. "Today [Monday], we received an order for 1,200 pieces of garment products," Ehsan said.
Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, also a director of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), expressed his fear about the future scenario of the industry – during July-August when most factories will have no available orders due to a gap of two sessions.
Factory owners will be empty-handed as buyers delay payments up to 180 days instead of 90 days, he said.
"The order placement ratio is about 50 percent lower than before as the novel coronavirus has disrupted most export markets, including those of the EU and the USA," said MA Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, another leading apparel exporter.
Most producers failed to deliver their goods in March, he said, adding that May might be a better month for them.
Garment makers are trying their best to send goods as per buyers' requirements but some buyers have asked for discounts, said BKMEA First Vice President Mohammad Hatem.
BGMEA Senior Vice President Faisal Samad said two types of goods are being shipped now: those that were scheduled for May and those that were cancelled or withheld.
A number of buyers have agreed to take their ordered goods after long negotiations, he added.
According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, orders worth about $3.16 billion have been cancelled or withheld due to the pandemic.