For the first time in Sri Lanka’s apparel history, the EDB, Sri Lanka’s apex export facilitator, has directly linked top Lankan apparel suppliers with the world’s largest textile retailer, Spain’s ZARA on 29 October. The facilitator, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), is stepping up its support for apparel market diversification.
“Though the Lankan apparel sector caters to many international brands, such as Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger and Marks & Spencer, we still haven’t been able to manufacture for the Zara brand, the world’s largest fashion retailer. This successful effort directly linked our apparels to Zara for the first time,” said EDB Director – Industrial Products Chitranjali Dissanayake recently.
Dissanayake was reporting on the success of the first-ever Lankan apparel industry delegation to Spain’s Inditex on 29 October. Inditex ranks as the world’s largest textile retailer by sales, is present in 87 countries, and owns international retail brands such as Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterqüe.
Inditex’s consolidated sales in 2013 totaled over $ 20 b, recording an impressive growth of 6% over 2012. The Group’s brands strive to sell fashionable products (fast fashion) with high quality. Inditex describes its business model as “creativity and quality design together with a rapid response to market demands”.
“Inditex is commonly known by its oldest and biggest brand, Zara. As a result of the Lankan industry leaders showing a keen interest to develop business contacts with Spain’s Inditex and to manufacture apparel in Sri Lanka for its Zara brand, the EDB promptly initiated a dialogue with Spain’s Inditex for an initial meeting with a Lankan delegation to present the country’s capabilities and invite Inditex SA to source from Sri Lanka. EDB succeeded in getting the meeting, resulting in a good session with Jesus Echevarria Hernandez, General Director of Communication for Inditex SA, at their headquarters in Spain. Under the guidance of Minister of industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen and support of EDB Chairman and CEO Bandula Egodage, the EDB is stepping up support for the apparel market diversification efforts of Lankan sector.”
Apparels became the leading growth driver in September’s exports (followed by coconut and food, beverages and tobacco). September apparel exports grew by 4.4% to $ 403.8 m in September compared to the same period last year.
The pioneering 29 October Lankan delegation to Zara consisted of reps from Brandix Lanka, Timex & Fergasam Garments, Union Apparel and EDB officials. The six-member delegation, facilitated by EDB, Sri Lanka’s apex exports body, has held several one-to-one meetings with heads of sourcing teams of different Inditex product groups to explore manufacturing for Zara brand.
During the visit, the delegation was provided a Zara company presentation and a meeting with Hernandez, followed by a guided tour to their cutting and finishing processes and logistics departments located in corporate headquarters as well as headquarters of Zara and Zara Home, two Inditex brands. A detailed presentation on Sri Lanka’s capabilities on the apparel industry was made by the Sri Lanka delegation which was followed by a discussion.
The Sri Lankan apparel industry is readying to generate $ 5 b in export earnings by 2016 and the Government’s aim is to position Sri Lanka among the top 10 high quality apparel manufacturing countries in the world by 2020. Sri Lanka is gearing to position itself as a commercial hub and the apparel sector is keen on getting into supply chain management as well.