With a big number of work orders following the reboot of global economies, now is the time for apparel entrepreneurs to get their businesses back to pre-pandemic levels by overcoming pandemic-induced losses, say clothing industry leaders.
But for continuation of such a good flow of orders, the government needs to enhance port capacity, ensure uninterrupted supplies of gas and power, they also say.
Keeping policies consistent and removing bureaucratic tangles are also very important, they said at a roundtable on Tuesday.
The Bangladesh Apparel Youth Leaders Association (BAYLA) organised the discussion at the Westin Hotel in Dhaka. Garment exporters and textile millers and young leaders attended the programme.
Faruque Hassan, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said, "Notwithstanding many challenges during pandemic-led restrictions globally, we kept on factory operations even at losses. Now, we are receiving a lot of work orders from international buyers and brands because of our compliance with everything necessary for the health safety of workers."
"All the challenges we faced in the pandemic time have now turned into opportunities for us," he also said.
"We have been getting good prices for the last three months and are negotiating with buyers for better prices from sales of garment items," he added.
They are not getting prices of apparel items in harmony with their increased manufacturing costs triggered by higher prices for raw materials, the BGMEA president noted.
Faruque also acknowledged that many apparel makers with a larger capacity offer conventional products at comparatively low prices only to get orders.
He suggested manufacturing unconventional items such as lingerie and technical apparels to get better prices and gain a foothold in many unexplored markets.
Local garment manufacturers should cash in on the growing demand for man-made fibre based garment items worldwide, Faruque also said.
The BGMEA is conducting a study on how to smoothen the apparel sector's recovery.
Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) said unhealthy competition among local suppliers has been affecting the pricing of garment items.
"We need to reduce this competition among us for getting better prices from international retailers and brands," Khokon also said.
Mohammad Hatem, executive president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, sought timely policy support from the government for attracting foreign direct investment in manufacturing woven garments as there is a room for investment.
Sharif Zahir, managing director at Ananta Apparels, said moving away from only on building new larger factories, apparel makers should now look for maximising profit margins by adopting cost-effective measures.
"We can also avail better prices by improving our country's image," he added.
Abdur Rahim Harmachi, business editor at News Bangla 24 moderated the discussion.
SM Rashidul Islam, general secretary of Economic Reporters Forum, Rafez Alam Chowdhury, former president of Bangladesh Garment Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association, also spoke on the occasion.