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Sunday, 26 September 2010





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Apparel industry should focus on niche markets - Director, Timex, Fergasam Group

The apparel industry should focus on venturing into niche markets and develop strategies to enhance exports, said Director, Timex and Fergasam Group, Anis Sattar.

He said Sri Lanka benefited from the GSP Plus trade concessions and added that the country should adopt new strategies to be competitive and promote trade.

"Export industries should be geared to face challenges and keep pace with global business trends. Total dependence on concessions will not be beneficial to any industry", Sattar said.

From the Avirate iifa fashion show

The GSP Plus trade concessions granted to Sri Lanka by the European Union (EU) were withdrawn following a timeline given to the country to respond to certain conditions expiring on August 15. Around 7,000 export lines benefitted from the zero duty access to the European markets.

Apparel, ceramics, gem and jewellery, agricultural products were some of the large beneficiaries of the concessions.

The apparel industry with a workforce of over 300,000 employees is one of the largest foreign exchange earners to the country.

Export earnings of the industry crossed US$ 1 billion last year.

"The shortage of employees is a major obstacle to develop the apparel industry. The industry could be more competitive if there is an adequate workforce", Sattar said. He said the apparel industry has jobs for around 35,000 people and there would be more workers needed following the end of the global financial crisis and the demand for high end products.

The Fergasam Group which was formed in 1967 by Sattar Karim to cater to the local market has over 10,000 employees today and export high-end garments to leading buyers such as Marks and Spencer, Victoria's Secret, Wallies, Next, C & A, Liz Clairborne, Macy's and JC Penny's.

Sri Lanka's competitors for high-end garments are China, Indonesia, Vietnam and India and Bangladesh for low-end garments.

Sattar said Sri Lanka's export industries are less competitive due to the high cost of production.Energy, wages and other overhead expenses contribute to the cost of production.

He said the Timex and Fergasam Group will set up factories in the North and the East next year which will provide jobs to youth in the area and help develop the economy.

"The Group has planned to set up its first Avirate store in Colombo 7 before the end of the year.Plans are afoot to set up a store in India", Sattar said. "The Avirate iifa fashions was a huge success and there would be long-term benefits for the country's fashion and entertainment industries", he said.

Timex and Fergasam Group which caters exclusively to ladies dresses and lingerie has offices in the UK, Hong Kong and manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.


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