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Old March 6th, 2011, 07:39 AM   #161
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Garments do well in Dec. without GSP+
The Island, March 5, 2011

Sri Lanka’s exports and imports hit new monthly highs in December 2010 with shipments of apparel, the main industrial export, rising sharply despite the loss of duty free access to Europe. Earnings from exports increased by 34 percent to 968 million US dollars in December 2010 from a year ago and expenditure on imports rose by 30.8 percent to 1,429 million US dollars, the central bank said in a statement. The December trade gap widened 25 percent to 461 million US dollars compared with the year before.

Cumulative earnings from exports increased by 17.3 percent to 8,307 million US dollars during the year, the highest annual value so far, while total spending on imports rose by 32.4 percent to 13,512 million US dollars.

The island’s trade deficit expanded to 5,205 million US dollars in 2010 from 3,122 million US dollars in 2009.

"The largest contribution to the growth in exports in December was from the industrial sector, led by significant increases in exports of textiles and garments, food and beverages and rubber products," the statement said.

"Earnings from garment exports to EU and USA increased by 33.9 percent and 31.4 percent in December 2010.

Total apparel exports in December 2010 rose 35.6 percent to 466 million US dollars from the previous year.

In December 2009 apparel exports had fallen eight percent to 343.5 million dollars from the previous year owing to lower demand caused by global recession.

The central bank said that with textile imports also increasing "substantially" in December 2010, there was a ‘better outlook for the garment industry."

The Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) trade deal giving duty free access to EU markets was withdrawn in August 2010.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 06:56 AM   #162
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Technology infusion must for apparel growth
Daily FT, March 4, 2011

Industry officials say SL behind in innovation, says efficiency must increase to sustain growth

By Uditha Jayasinghe

Research and development to introduce new technology into apparel is the need of the day, say top industry officials.

Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF) Secretary General M.P.T. Cooray and Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Rohan Abeykoon while addressing the opening of the CEMS Global International Exhibition for the Textile and Garment Sector yesterday noted that Sri Lanka was lagging behind in technological advancement needed for the industry’s growth.

The CEMS event is an amalgamation of three exhibitions which brings all the sectors of the apparel sector together with the latest innovations in dyes, chemicals, yarn and fabric under one roof. The Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre (SLECC) will hold the exhibition till 5 March 2011.

Speaking at the opening ceremony both Cooray and Abeykoon emphasised on the importance of developing advanced technology to increase efficiency in the sector to offset global competition. They noted that with the increasing labour costs and high priced suppliers it was imperative for factories to obtain better machinery so that their efficiency could rise.

“We want to become a Rs.5 billion industry by 2016 but this target can be met faster if there is greater focus on research and development not only on machinery but also different business models.

With our decades of experience we can export knowledge and covert Sri Lanka into an apparel hub,” Cooray pointed out adding that it was time for apparel to learn lessons from the mobile and vehicle industries.

This view was echoed by Abeykoon who stressed that exports had jumped by 20%-30% in the last quarter of 2010 and prospects for rapid growth was good. In a rapidly changing global scenario spurred on by higher labour costs in China and capacity issues in Bangladesh as well as the North African unrest he predicted that Sri Lanka would stand to gain more growth in 2011.

“We are currently working on urging the government to forge bilateral ties with emerging markets such as Japan, Brazil, China and even India to increase our exports and reduce production costs,” he said expectantly calling on machinery suppliers to grant easy payment terms to factories. “It would be beneficial to both parties if payment could be made in instalments because many businesses find it difficult to find enough money to pay upfront.”

The increase in efficiency would assist to shore up the shortfall created by the loss of GSP+ opined the Exporters Association Chairman.
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Old March 15th, 2011, 08:39 AM   #163
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GSP+ too big to miss!

Apparel industry says if country didn’t lose concessions exports could have achieved 20% growth in 2010 as opposed to 7%; Credits global events for modest growth * 10% growth expected for 1Q 2011; 10%-15% annual growth needed to meet US$ 5 b target by 2015

By Uditha Jayasinghe, Daily FT, 15th March 2011

Despite apparel exports recording a 7% year on year increase to US$ 3.5 billion, industry pundits are uncertain about fortunes in 2011 and point out that growth figures would have doubled if GSP+ was still available.

Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association President Rohan Abayakoon told the Daily FT that the growth rate for this year would have to be between 10%-15% if the industry is to meet its target of US$ 5 billion exports by 2015.

Even though the first quarter is looking to continue the growth of 2010 with a 10% growth in the pipeline when compared to 2010 Abayakoon pointed out that this was due to external factors more than any steps taken by the industry.
“At the moment there is nothing special that the industry is doing to record this growth.
The events taking place around the world are mostly responsible,” he opined adding that the unrest in north Africa, labour price increases in China and capacity issues in Bangladesh were providing impetus to Sri Lanka.

He said that 2010’s apparel exports growth of 7% to $ 3.5 billion as “good” but pointed out that the GSP+ facility would have helped generate growth numbers closer to 20% and that what the industry could have achieved should be kept in context when comparing statistics. “Growth would definitely have been better if GSP+ concessions were intact,” he added. The GSP+ scheme allowed duty free access to Europe whilst from mid-August Lankan products were slapped with between 8 and 10% duty.
Exports in December 2010 grew by 35.6% to $ 465.7 million. Earnings from garment exports to EU and USA increased by 33.9% and 31.4%, respectively, in December 2010.
Though up by 7% over 2009, the 2010 export figure of $ 3.5 billion is only marginally high from the 2008’s figure of $ 3.46 billion. In 2009, exports dipped by 5.6% to $ 3.27 billion over 2008.

Abayakoon went on to say that the stellar reputation that Sri Lanka apparel has earned over the years has also stood it in good stead with buyers returning because of the trust they have in local companies. “Sri Lanka is seen as a reliable destination and so customers always return to us.” Maintaining the current growth Abayakoon stressed will depend more on these external elements creating a market rather than anything that the industry can do internally. “The misfortune of the rest of the world is our good fortune,” he quipped but commented that growth projection depended on world events.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 09:01 AM   #164
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Apparel readies to go north
BOI keen on finalising projects before 31 March; makes strong progress on backlogged projects; investors positive on speedy implementation bringing billions northBy Uditha Jayasinghe, (Daily FT, Saturday, 19 March 2011 )


Billions of investment from the apparel industry looking to set up shop in the north are being galvanised as the Board of Investment (BOI) scrambles to clear projects before new legislation for restructuring is finalised at the end of the month.
Burdened under internal strife, the BOI had earlier come under fire for letting its restructuring process delay the approval process for ventures worth billions and undermining Sri Lanka’s global competitiveness.
Orit Apparels Lanka Managing Director Channa Palansuriya told Daily FT that he along with eight other companies had made headway with the BOI to establish factories in the north – a venture that could result in billions of investment for the war-affected region. They need essential assistance on taxation and infrastructure including land, but the process is moving forward with regular meetings being held between the investors and BOI.

Brandix Limited, Hirdaramani Limited, Timex Garments Limited, MAS Holdings and Omega Line Limited are some of the other companies keen on investing in the north.

“The BOI announced that nine apparel companies are interested in opening factories in the north. This is a positive development that is being encouraged by the Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF) since it reduces production costs while giving an economic boost to war-ravaged areas. We are happy that the BOI after its initial delays is now responding positively and we have made significant headway in the projects,” Palansuriya said.

He added that the BOI was keen to finalise the projects before 31 March. The company has already spent six months on the US$ 12 million project. Orit Lanka hopes to establish a factory in Vavuniya and expend the investment over two years.

The officials of leading garment factories who are willing to set up their factories in the Northern Province visited Vavuniya on 28 October 2010 and had discussions with Northern Province Governor G.A. Chandrasiri at the District Secretariat, Vavuniya. Omanthai, Nelunkulam and Cheddikkulam are among the areas selected for potential investment.

Of these companies, Timex and Fergasam are considering establishing a factory in Mannar at an investment of Rs. 1.5 billion this year.

“We are focusing on constructing the buildings in six months with another three months allocated for staff training. So we were hoping to start business during the latter part of 2011,” company representatives noted, adding that once the factory was established, they would consider moving to Achchuveli with another Rs. 1.5 billion venture.

“We are keen on this because of the tax advantages and the shortage of labour we face in other regions. The initial investment will be comparatively small, but in another two years we are hoping to expand with a Rs. 3 billion venture.”

Brandix already has a garment factory in Punani in the Eastern Province and is eyeing the north as well. However, the company was reluctant to divulge details until the project was finalised. When contacted, Hidramani officials also preferred to remain tight-lipped.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 07:57 AM   #165
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Pacific Textiles, Brandix Lanka joint venture firm goes for IPO
Apparels industry has potential for more growth in Sri Lanka, South Asia

The Island, March 20, 2011


The Board of Directors of Textured Jersey Lanka (Private) Limited (Textured Jersey), a joint venture between Pacific Textiles Holdings Limited of Hong Kong (Pacific Textiles) and Sri Lanka’s Brandix Lanka Limited (Brandix Lanka), has decided to seek a listing on the Main Board of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) through an initial public offering (IPO), the unit said in a statement.

"Textured Jersey is currently jointly owned by Pacific Textiles, which has a 60 percent stake in the company, and the balance 40 percent being held by Brandix Lanka. Post-listing, subject to receiving CSE approval, it is expected that approximately 30 percent of Textured Jersey will be held with the public, with part of the dilution taking place via a pre-IPO placement and the balance through an IPO of new shares. The total transaction value is estimated to be approximately Rs. 2.9 billion," the company said.

"Textured Jersey is one of Sri Lanka’s most sophisticated production facilities, manufacturing knitted fabrics for the intimate apparel and sportswear industries. Specializing in the manufacture of high quality, weft-knitted and dyed stretch fabrics, Textured Jersey is a major supplier to apparel manufacturers throughout Asia and end-chain retailers. Amongst its largest clients are Victoria’s Secret, Marks & Spencer and Intimissimi. Infrastructure at the 650,000 sq. ft. facility in Avissawella enables a capacity to knit, dye and finish up to 2.5 million meters of fabric a month. Despite facing challenges in the form of rising cotton prices, high energy costs and loss of tariff concessions, Textured Jersey has delivered strong financial results during the past five years," it said.

Bill Lam, Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Textiles and a Director of Textured Jersey, also said that the listing would enable Textured Jersey to take advantage of potential growth opportunities in both Sri Lanka and the South Asian region.

"High global cotton prices are an industry-wide headwind at present, but we believe this will facilitate industry consolidation in the longer term, and stronger players will continue to gain market share," he said.

Ashroff Omar, Chief Executive Officer of Brandix Lanka and a Director of Textured Jersey, said that the listing was sought to provide Textured Jersey with greater operational flexibility and to provide a separate independent platform to raise funds from the capital markets to support its future growth aspirations.

"Knit products constitute the fastest growing segment of the Sri Lankan apparel export market, which is growing strongly even after the end of the GSP+ concessions in August 2010, and Textured Jersey is the country’s pre-eminent producer of value-added knitted fabric," he said.

The Hong Kong listed Pacific Textiles is a leading manufacturer of customized knitted fabric in the global textile industry, with a focus on complex, value-added fabrics. It has one of the largest textile manufacturing facilities in China, and provides integrated services of knitting, dyeing, printing and finishing, with an annual production capacity of approximately 87 million kg.

Pacific Textiles...

Pacific Textiles reported a 21 percent YoY increase in revenue for six months ended 30th September 2010 to HK$ 3.7 billion (US$ 474 million), with net profit attributable to shareholders rising by 17 percent YoY during the same period to HK$ 453 million (US$ 58 million).

Brandix has been accredited as Sri Lanka’s largest apparel exporter. Being the pioneer of the concept of ‘total solutions’ in Sri Lanka’s apparel sector, Brandix is a preferred solutions provider to some of the world’s leading apparel brands, including Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Gap, Banana Republic, Marks & Spencer, Lands’ End, Tommy Hilfiger, Hanes, Express, H&M, Intimissimi and Tesco. The Group specializes in casual bottoms, underwear, lounge and sleepwear, bras, textiles, knitted and woven fabrics, sewing and embroidery thread, accessories and hangers, and also offers wet processing and finishing and fabric printing. The Brandix Group is supported by 32 manufacturing locations island-wide, in addition to other facilities in the South Asian region, and strategically located international sourcing offices, and directly employs over 30,000 associates in Sri Lanka.

Textured Jersey is being advised by investment bankers CT Capital (Pvt) Ltd and Acuity Partners (Private) Limited, who will also act as managers to the capital raising and listing exercise.
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Old March 23rd, 2011, 07:57 AM   #166
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Lanka export giant Brandix expands
The Island, March 22, 2011

Sri Lanka’s top apparel exporter Brandix has announced a major addition to its portfolio, following the acquisition of full ownership of Comfortwear (Pvt) Ltd., the group’s former joint venture with Lanka Equities. "The new cluster, Brandix Lingerie, formally launched earlier this month, will see the group emerge as a key player in the manufacture of high end specialty bras and complementary coordinates for global high street labels such as Marks & Spencer, H&M, and Victoria’s Secret," the company said in a statement.

The two manufacturing facilities of Comfortwear in the Wathupitiwala Export Processing Zone in Nittambuwa, which have been under Brandix management since December 2008, have been restructured into a focused Bra/Lingerie facility that complements the Groupextensive product offering in categories such as casualwear, intimates, briefs, textiles, knits and accessories, Brandix Group Director AJ Johnpillai said.

Brandix Lingerie also acquired a third manufacturing facility within the zone in October 2010 in order to achieve the scale and capacity that its key customers require, and is looking at further expansion and consolidation of its lingerie manufacturing capacity within the region, he disclosed.

According to Brandix Lingerie Director Dave Ranasinghe, "Specialty lingerie, particularly core and fashion bras, is a category with tremendous potential and the Brandix Group is making a substantial commitment through financial investment and recruitment of technical competencies to integrate this segment into its portfolio." The Group has also invested in a Joint Venture with key stakeholders located within the Brandix India Apparel City (BIAC) in Andhra Pradesh for the manufacture of bras to attain the depth and scale to be a regionally significant supplier in the future, he added.

Brandix Lingerie CEO Rajiv Malalasekera said: "There was an identified need for expansion of our capacity in this product category considering Brandix’s position as a preferred supplier across varied product categories to established retail brands with a global presence. There is also a visible shift by large retailers into the region to source specialty lingerie which requires skilled labor and affordable and reliable capacity aligned with fashion lead time requirements. Hence there is an opportunity for Brandix to be a bigger player in this segment."

Disclosing that the Brandix-managed Comfortwear plant had already been rated among the top suppliers to Marks & Spencer in its specific lingerie product category, he said the Group has retained and further enhanced the facility’s core competency of skilled lingerie manufacture, having brought in best practices and processes from the Brandix Group into the business during the management takeover.

A centralized warehouse and processing facility has already been set up on-site to serve all three manufacturing plants of Brandix Lingerie, a business that now employs 2,600 people. The number of employees deployed is expected to increase by a further 20 per cent by the second half of the year, and the company is considering acquiring more capacity in due course, he revealed.

The pioneer of the concept of ‘total solutions’ in Sri Lanka’s apparel sector, Brandix is a preferred solutions provider to some of the world’s leading apparel brands, including Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Gap, Banana Republic, Marks & Spencer, Lands’ End, Tommy Hilfiger, Hanes, Express, H&M, Intimissimi and Tesco. The Group specializes in casual bottoms, underwear, lounge and sleepwear, bras, textiles, knitted and woven fabrics, sewing and embroidery thread, accessories and hangers, and also offers wet processing and finishing and fabric printing.
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Old March 27th, 2011, 08:52 AM   #167
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Lanka’s apparel industry in regional awareness campaign, recruitment drive
The Island, March 22, 2011,

The Sri Lankan apparel industry’s island-wide campaign to showcase its national image and further its role as a major contributor to regional and economic development of the country received a further boost following the endorsement and support extended towards this program by Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen, the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) said in a statement yesterday (22).

"The minister hailed the industry’s continued commitment and focus in promoting the local garment services which has won world acclaim from leading brands and buyers of international repute. He specifically thanked the industry workers from operational grades to decision-makers and planners for maintaining high standards in manufacture strictly following ethical standards and accepted employment norms for all workers.
"He pointed out that President Mahinda Rajapaksa looked forward to the industry playing a bigger role in years to come, propelled by the current budget proposal which indicates that the government would extend its fullest support in achieving this goal."

Meanwhile, JAAF received an unprecedented response from the visitors who attended the Dayata Kirula 2011 exhibition and fair in Buttala recently. The event drew large numbers of youth from surrounding areas who came forward to support the industry and expressed their willingness to join the apparel sector at different levels of employment. At present, JAAF authorities are processing the large amount of applications received at Dayata Kirula, which will be handed over to the relevant factories for their consideration.
The industry has presently created around 400,000 employments in various manufacturing processes from designing and pattern-making, to cutting and sewing, and accounts across the country. This wide-spread presence of the industry also makes it one of the most significant contributors to employment generation and poverty reduction in the regions.

"The apparel industry is a major contributor to the national economy and we consider it a ‘flagship service’ of Sri Lanka within the international market, that has attracted major international buyers, brands and apparel houses and acts as a road map for macro development" the minister said in his statement.

Speaking further on the industry, Bathiudeen expressed his confidence that the Sri Lankan apparel industry would achieve the forecasted $5 billion revenue target by 2015 as mentioned by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse in his budget speech.

He called upon the youth to rally round the industry and be a part of this thriving sector, pointing out that this is the only sector which contributes towards regional development by opening employment opportunities and infrastructure development through the establishment of factories in all 23 districts, with Jaffna being positively considered.

The high ethical standards observed by Sri Lanka’s apparel industry has already been earmarked internationally. Noted for its strong observance of environmentally friendly manufacturing practices, the industry also focuses on providing benefits such as transport, meals and medical facilities and strives to uphold strict health and safety standards, making Sri Lanka’s apparel sector a worthy contender on the international platform, JAAF said.

Through its current campaign the industry hopes to expand its workforce to further boost industry contributions to the national economy.
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Old March 28th, 2011, 07:14 AM   #168
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Garments Buying Offices Association rebrands as Apparel Sourcing body
Daily FT, March 24, 2011

The 18th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Garments Buying Offices Association (SLGBOA) was held at the Water’s Edge, Battaramulla on Friday, 18 March 2011, amidst a distinguished gathering of industry members.

The Chief Guest Pedro Henrique Lopes Borio, Ambassador, Federative Republic of Brazil attended the event as the Chief Guest along with Jose Roberto Procopiate, Deputy Head of Mission, Federative Republic of Brazil.

The proceedings of the occasion commenced with the traditional lighting of the oil lamp by the Chief Guest followed by the members of the association. Hiran Bandaranaike, Secretary General of the Sri Lanka Garment Buying Offices Association announced the names of the new Chairman, Vice Chairman and the new Committee Members.

Two new members from the trade were appointed to the new committee namely, Thushara Wickramanayake, CEO of Marks & Spencer as the Vice Chairman and Viran Perera, CEO of MAST Industries INC.

Bandaranaike, while welcoming the committee, also announced the change of the Association name to Sri Lanka Apparel Sourcing Association (SLASA), as officially adopted by the general membership. The particulars of the membership were followed by the addresses of the evening. Gopal K. Iyer, Chairman, Nitches Lanka Ltd. and immediate past chairman of SLGBOA shared information on the current status of the apparel trade in Sri Lanka. “Today we can proudly say that Sri Lanka has performed…if we compare figures from 2009 we have a positive growth of 6.4%.” he stated, adding, “the basis for these achievements is that Sri Lanka demonstrates excellent needlework and the commitment in the industry is sound.”

While illustrating the potential of growth and possibilities, taking to account Brazil’s present ties with India and China, Chief Guest Pedro Henrique Lopes Borio said, “When I came to Sri Lanka, the trade was 12 million dollars and last year it was more than 200 million dollars.” Stressing on the importance of fostering direct ties between the two nations and the enabling role of SLASA, he added: “I will be very happy to work with the association and the members to discuss a possible trade mission to Brazil or inviting the right partners from Brazil to get to know the industry here. It is advantageous for embassies to be able to talk to an entity instead of reaching each separately…if you can work in unity, then your chances of success are much greater.”

The duly-appointed new SLASA Chairman J.D.R. Sylvester, Stafford Textiles, also addressed the gathering and shared his thoughts on the positive trend of the industry and its future: “There is no doubt that the market is very promising and the industry is booming and we have to be focused and start developing new markets like Brazil and other countries which will certainly help the industry to move forward,” he stated. He added that many garment factories of the country have been taken over by major garment exporters in the country and the work is in full capacity. The industry has in effect managed to create 400,000 employments through the various manufacturing processes in the apparel industry.

Representing one of the sponsors of the evening Manish Patel, DHL Keells Pvt. Ltd. also shared his thoughts in the final addressed for the evening. “We have closely associated ourselves with the SLGBOA and it continues its stellar role for the country’s business community even under challenging circumstances. At DHL we take great pride in our association with this body and we will continue to work closely with the various stakeholders of the industry as Sri Lanka strives to grow, to be a competitive sourcing base,” he said.

The Sri Lanka Garment Buying Offices Association was established in 1993 towards promoting and fostering the growth of the garment industry in Sri Lanka. The members of the Association represent international brand names and all major global importers and retailers from the USA, EU, Australia and Japan.
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Old March 29th, 2011, 07:59 AM   #169
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Founder of Ethical Fashion Show, Paris Isabelle Quéhé delivers special lecture at the Academy of Design
Daily FT, March 24, 2011

During a period when the global design movement is taking progressive steps towards sustainability and ecological conservation, the Academy of Design (AOD), Sri Lanka’s leading design educator and one of South Asia’s most celebrated design campuses, has taken on the responsibility of educating the region’s design students on the concept of sustainable design.

As part of this special module, AOD invited internationally renowned fashion designer, activist and founder of the Paris Ethical Fashion Show – Isabelle Quéhé to conduct a special lecture at the AOD with the aim of providing an opportunity for students to identify the need to maintain sustainable practices while conserving the environment and preserving valuable resources.

During a short interview, Isabelle voiced her opinion on education on ethical fashion in Sri Lanka and South Asia.

AOD: Why is it important to educate young Sri Lankan designers, as you’re doing here at AOD, given that Sri Lanka’s fashion and apparel industry is already an award-winning green industry?

Quéhé: It is true that Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is a green industry, but the future is with your youth. If Sri Lanka is to retain its apparel industry’s ethical and green nature, you have to start educating the professionals who will be leading in the future, starting right now. If Sri Lankan youth could be encouraged to practice their creativity with a responsible mindset, it can revolutionise the entire South Asian region. Sri Lanka actually has it all, and we need to promote the country and its green industries so that others can follow the lead.

AOD: What do you feel about AOD’s dedication to instil morality parallel to creativity in young designers?

Quéhé: It has evidently been a part of AOD’s DNA from the very beginning to provide design education with responsibility. An institution like AOD is needed to drive ethical fashion and design in South Asia, and their education is visionary and inventive. AOD will create a responsible generation of designers for the world and they will probably play an important role in driving design in this region forward. I’m glad to be a part of AOD’s contribution to the design world and South Asian design.

AOD; AOD hopes to become the first South Asian educator offering definitive education in Ethical Fashion. How do you see this affecting the fashion industries of the region?

Quéhé:This will not only profit AOD students but also Sri Lanka as it will add to Sri Lanka’s growing reputation as an ethical design centre in Asia. This is a great thing and will add to the design industries all over the world by contributing designers who are specially trained in ethical aspects of creativity. I look forward to this and wish AOD the very best in the endeavour.

AOD’s principal Karen MacLeod states that AOD will continue to guide its graduates to understand and follow shifting global trends so that they are on par with top-notch international designers and creative organisations and possess the ability to take design in Sri Lanka to the next level.
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Old April 14th, 2011, 07:42 AM   #170
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MAS Holdings chief shows way into Indian consumers psyche
April 13, 2011

"India is not a homogenous group of consumers. There are different layers of the middle class, like the layers of a cake. You should be aware of which part of the cake you want to bite into", said Mr Ajay Amalean, Director - MAS Holdings.

Mr Amalean was speaking at the ‘LBR-LBO CEO Forum’ on the role of CEOs and about placing Sri Lanka on the world map. He said that sales of their lingerie brand ‘Amante’ were growing very strongly in India and hope to operationally break even this year.

Amante was launched in India in 2007 by MAS holdings, which is amongst the biggest clothing exporters from Sri Lanka and supplies to globally renowned brands like Victoria's Secret, Nike, GAP and M&S.

MAS Holdings, which has sales close to US $800 million started operations in 1987, was the first to manufacture lingerie’s in Sri Lanka. It currently employs around 45,000 people in 30 plants in nine countries and has four design studios in Hong Kong, Colombo, New York and London.

Speaking about the Indian market he said, “Although India is a huge market and is widely talked about for its 500-million strong middle-class, the country was actually several different markets”.

“India is not a homogenous group of consumers. There are different layers of the middle class, like the layers of a cake. You should be aware of which part of the cake you want to bite into", he informed top honchos from the industry.

“We are having phenomenal growth in India at an average of 40 percent, in a category, which itself is growing at 10 percent. On the other hand, our competitors are struggling, even after being in the Indian market for 8-10 years", he added by saying.

"Several brands launched in India, looked very enticing, but a lot many brought products made for different markets like, the UK or Germany and expected them to fit the Indian women, so ultimately they did not succeed.

“However, MAS designed lingerie products, specifically for Indian women. We physically measured 1,500 Indian women, as lingerie is worn very close to the body and needs to fit absolutely well, so we made a product, specifically for the Indian consumer", he observed.

Informing further about their foray in to the Indian retail market, he said, “We also remained focused on lingerie’s and used a very effective retail network of department stores, although we were also tempted to start our own retail outlets like the other brands.

“However, two weeks before the opening, we realized, we would be paying for New York type real estate prices and selling at Indian prices. The two do not go together. So, we gave up the dream of turning retailer and instead became a brand and started a distribution channel. That's the reason for our success - understanding the market place”, he emphasized by saying.


Fibre2fashion News Desk
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Old April 15th, 2011, 06:26 AM   #171
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World's first carbon neutral bra made in Sri Lanka goes on sale
Wed, Apr 13, 2011, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 13, Colombo: The British retailer Marks and Spencer launched the world's first carbon neutral bra made in a green factory in Sri Lanka hoping to encourage production of all clothing in more eco-friendly environment.

The carbon-neutral bra available online from today and priced at £ 22 was made in a factory run on solar panels on the roof and hydroelectricity produced on a nearby river.

The energy usage for the production of the lingerie has been reduced by 33 percent and the remaining carbon dioxide produced during manufacture is compensated by planting 6,000 trees in the community every year, the London's Telegraph reported.

Most of the trees will be native to Sri Lanka, therefore boosting wildlife. A quarter will be fruit trees that can generate money for the local community, according to the Telegraph report.

The Carbon Trust Footprinting Certification Company has calculated the carbon used in making the bra and will monitor the project to ensure emissions are cut.

The retailer, working with the Conservation Carbon Company plans to help local farmers replant trees to create 'green corridors' to restore the rainforest in southern Sri Lanka.

The local farmers are helped to develop sustainable agriculture harvesting fruit and timber, the report says.

Sri Lanka's top apparel makers, MAS Holdings and Brandix have built eco friendly factories. They supply high-end bras and lingerie to top retailers such as M&S, Victoria Secret and H&M.
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Old April 24th, 2011, 08:05 AM   #172
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Slow wheels turn
Daily FT, April 23, 2011
By Uditha Jayasinghe

After a delay of six months, four apparel companies ready to sign agreements to establish factories in the north

After many months of negotiations with the Board of Investment (BOI), four apparel companies are readying to establish factories in the north of the country.
Industry sources revealed that Brandix, MAS, Omega Line and Orit Lanka are ready to ink agreements that will see them moving to the north under a special investment package given by the Government.

Even though initial negotiations are reported to have started during the latter part of last year, there were long delays in finalising the amount of investment as well as what assistance would be extended by the BOI, it is learnt.

Orit Lanka Managing Director Channa Palansuriya told the Daily FT that over six months had been spent on the project, which had kicked off in October 2010. He recalled several rounds of negotiations, partly delayed by the restructuring of the BOI early this year, before an agreement was reached.

“We are happy with the package that we have been given,” he said, adding that even though it was not as lucrative as expected, it includes land, water, tax holidays and electricity connection for the project.

“However, as a result of the BOI not meeting our expectations, the US$ 12 million investment has been reduced to US$ 8 million.” Orit Lanka had earlier planned this investment to be stretched out over a two-year period.

Hirdaramani Limited and Timex Garments Limited are some of the other companies keen on investing in the north. Even though nine companies were initially announced to have expressed interest in moving to the Northern Province, the progress of negotiations by other companies is unclear. It was earlier reported that the officials of leading garment factories who are willing to set up their factories in the Northern Province visited Vavuniya on 28 October 2010 and had discussions with Northern Province Governor G.A. Chandrasiri at the District Secretariat, Vavuniya. Omanthai, Nelunkulam and Cheddikkulam were among the areas selected for potential investment.
Of these companies, Timex and Fergasam are considering establishing a factory in Mannar at an investment of Rs. 1.5 billion.

“We are focusing on constructing the buildings in six months, with another three months allocated for staff training. So we were hoping to start business during the latter part of 2011,” company representatives noted, adding that once the factory was established, they would consider moving to Achchuveli with another Rs. 1.5 billion venture.

“We are keen on this because of the tax advantages and the shortage of labour we face in other regions. The initial investment will be comparatively small, but in another two years we are hoping to expand with a Rs. 3 billion venture.”

Brandix already has a garment factory in Punani in the Eastern Province and is eyeing the north as well. However, the company was reluctant to divulge details until the project was finalised. When contacted, Hidramani officials also preferred to remain tight-lipped.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 01:27 PM   #173
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Apparel industry gets lucky on US$3.5 bln earnings
By Sunimalee Dias, Sunday Times, 3rd July 2011

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry simply got lucky with its plausible US$3.4 billion revenue in 2010 due to world developments after the EU GSP + concessions were pulled out. However, the sector continues to be plagued with wage and labour issues in the context of new sector industries coming up.

Sri Lanka in 2010 gained US$284 million from exports to some of the industry’s new markets which is a significant value of about 6-7% of total exports. The GSP + and whether it was due to its impact or otherwise is mainly attributed to China and Bangladesh increasing its production prices while the latter also got into protracted domestic labour issues.

This placed Sri Lanka on a platform to gain on the improved environment to capture new markets inspite of the setbacks of withdrawal of trade concessions, industry experts noted. With China unlikely to get any cheaper and Bangladesh set to become increasingly expensive the costs between China and Sri Lanka are likely to become significant, the industry notes. In this respect, this is likely to be to Sri Lanka’s advantage at present.

It was pointed out that currently the industry was plagued with a chronic labour shortage and tough competition (for a share of the labour market) against new industries post war. Meanwhile, the industry points out there is a labour shortage exceptt in the North and East which has excess but the industry is unable to tap it due to infrastructure constraints.

In this respect, the industry is currently seeking a discussion with the Government in a bid to ensure they would establish Industrial Parks in the North and East. This is likely to create the sufficient space to attract the new labour in the area, according to a top garment industrialist, who declined to be named.
He told the Business Times that the need at present is for the industry to go rural in a bid to ensure they are able to attract more labour from these areas.

With most other industries now coming up the apparel sector is no longer becoming an attractive industry for employment generation as a result of which they face stiff competition today.

Once the industry was the most lucrative sector the people would turn to for jobs but with new investments and business process outsourcing (BPO) operations the demand is greater in the employment sector.

On the other hand, the industry is today looking at furthering the industry’s prospects by scaling its operations to becoming a significant player from the once tailoring shops to an international designer-wear production house.
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Old July 21st, 2011, 07:49 AM   #174
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Overseas clothing retailers start lining back at Sri Lankan doors
July 20, 2011 (Sri Lanka)

The Sri Lankan apparel manufacturing sector, which suffered a setback following the global economic turmoil in 2008, has started luring back overseas buyers, who had shifted their sourcing to other cost-competitive Asian countries.

“Mainly, Sri Lanka apparel’s overall offer is still relevant with our customers and they have a long and strong relationship with the vendor base here. Sri Lanka’s industry has also proven to be extremely resilient under trying conditions and continues to be a reliable supplier”, says Mr. M Raghuraman, CEO - Corporate Marketing & Branding, Brandix Lanka Ltd.

He continued by saying, “Actually Sri Lanka’s exports to Europe continued to grow in spite of the recession and the withdrawal of GSP+ benefits. In 2005, when the country gained duty-free status to Europe, apparel exports posted US $1billion revenues in the year.

“In 2009, at the height of the recession, Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU stood at US $1.65 billion which was a 3% growth over the previous year and in 2010, despite the negative sentiment created with the removal of the duty free concession, our exports maintained the growth level of 3% over 2009.

“The first four months of this year also shows a strong growth. There are many contributory factors to this sustained growth with key retailers re-stocking their inventory and a number of supplier nations having issues with rising cost and labor unrests etc”.

When asked as to how, they could capture the emerging growth in their key market, he said, “The industry is continuously exploring avenues of increasing the value-add for the customer. We are placed in a winning region as apparel exports out of the region are over US $40 billion.

“Sri Lanka’s strategic location and as a shipping hub, offers many ways in which we can leverage the strengths of the region and make an overall compelling offer. We aim to build on offering product design and innovation, value-added services to the regional players and in turn to our customers.

“The decades long relationships we have built with our customers have moved from mere transactional to more strategic partnerships. So by adding more value we are likely to not only grow with our existing customers but also to attract new customers. H&M, the largest and fastest growing European retailer, this year established a sourcing office in Sri Lanka which emphasizes the level of confidence placed in our industry.

To our enquiry as to whether their old customers would have returned and placed new orders, he informed, “Our strategy is to establish relationships with our customers that are narrow and deep so generally with this type of commitment both players are in for the duration. The recession has affected both the customers and the vendor base, but if the relationship is a strategic one, then both parties work together to weather it out.

“So, I don’t believe our country has witnessed any customers moving away. If any do, it is if and when the strategic fit is no longer relevant, but as long as we continue to evolve to provide the changing demands of the customer then the business stays and grows”, he summed up by saying.

Fibre2fashion News Desk
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Old September 12th, 2011, 08:02 AM   #175
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East gets three apparel factories
Jobs for 1,000 people, free of ethnic, gender discrimination
The Island, September 11, 2011, 6:56 pm


Daya Apparel Export Pvt Limited in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is planning to set up set up three ready-made garment factories in the Ampara District. The factory was inaugurated on September 9th will be the first, and employs 80 workers.

The three factories, set up with US$ 1.3 million from USAID and US$ 2.13 million from Daya Apparel, would provide direct employment to 1,000 men and women in the area, and train them as sewing machine operators and assistants, a joint statement said.

"The project will allow on-the-job interaction among different ethnicities, and benefit members of all ethnic groups. The project will emphasize equitable employment opportunities for both women and men.

"The annual capacity of the factories with 20 production lines will be over 2.4 million pieces of apparel per year and the expected annual combined revenue is over $15.6 million.

The project comes under the USAID’s Eastern Garment Alliance.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 07:26 AM   #176
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ASIA: Textile nations shift in competition charts
Author: Leonie Barrie, Just-Style, 16 September 2011

Asian textile and apparel exporting nations including Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the Philippines have posted gains in global competitiveness during 2011, a business report has said.

But Vietnam and Indonesia have slipped down the rankings from last year. The Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 shows that Vietnam moved down 6 positions to 65th out of 142 economies polled. And Indonesia moved down two slots to 46th from 44th last year.

The report also reveals that Sri Lanka moved 10 rankings to 52nd, up from 62nd last year, attributable in part to its impressive business sophistication and innovation. The Philippines was ranked 75th, up from 85th a year ago.

The study, which is based on a survey of 13,000 business leaders worldwide and 12 determinants of competitiveness that include the macro-economy and goods market efficiency, also showed Cambodia rose to 97th place from 109th last year.
Similarly, the report compiled by the World Economic Forum shows that the world's biggest textiles and apparel exporter, China, rose one place to 26th position, solidifying its position among the top 30. But neighbouring India fell five slots to 59th from 51st last year.

Other major emerging nations that witnessed falls included Bangladesh, down one position to 108th, and Egypt, down 13 places to 94th. However, Turkey, also a key textiles and apparel exporter, rose from a ranking position of 61st to 59th, and Pakistan was up five slots to 118th.

Overall, Switzerland was ranked the most competitive economy, followed by Singapore, Sweden, Finland and the US. Japan remains the second-ranked Asian economy at 9th place, despite falling three places since last year.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 03:23 PM   #177
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Why Sri Lanka has designs on the fashion world

19 September 2011

By Saroj Pathirana | BBC Sinhala service

Sri Lanka has long been known as a manufacturing location for the international garment industry.

But the island is changing, according to the first Sri Lankan to present her own design at London Fashion Week's Esthetica - the hub of London's ethical fashion industry - into a fashion destination in its own right.

"I personally see a massive change in the industry in Sri Lanka," Charini Suriyage told the BBC Sinhala service.

"At one point Sri Lanka was only a manufacturing destination, but I see a lot of fashion schools and universities coming up and also I see most of the companies having a design section."

'Contemporary twist'

Ms Suriyage, winner of the Sri Lanka Design Festival 2010 Ethical Fashion Designer for lingerie, is launching her own lingerie collection at the event.

The collection is described as "luxury, hand-crafted, timeless, vintage design with a contemporary twist" - a far cry from any sweatshop image many might have of Sri Lankan apparel.

"It is great to take part in London Fashion Week," she says.

"It has given me such a great opportunity to be amongst all those international brands who have made their name in the industry.

"It has also given me so much exposure in terms of press and it has been amazing the kind of response so far from all those international buyers."

Ms Suriyage is a graduate of the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka and currently studies at London College of Fashion.

She has undergone an intensive mentoring programme on ethical fashion, designing under international designers Orsola de Castro, Filippo Ricci, Elizabeth Laskar and Claire Hamer.

She was also inspired, she says, by the work of the late Alexander McQueen and Issey Miyake.

"An ethical designer should be aware of the environment as well as the planet," she says.

"But it is a broader concept, where you think of the wellbeing of the people who are involved in the manufacturing process, the sorting process or the people who wear your product."

FULL STORY: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/14972667
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Old October 17th, 2011, 01:44 PM   #178
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Apparel industry maintaining dominant role
Sanjeevi Jayasuriya
Daily News, 17th October 2011

The apparel industry shows signs of maintaining the dominant role in the country’s export sector recording continued growth despite fluctuations in prime global economies. The year to date published figures show an increase of 45% year-on-year for apparel exports which under the trying global situation by any standards would be a commendable performance by the industry, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Rohan Abayakoon told Daily News Business.

The increase in cotton prices during the early part of the year together with the increase in volume/value experienced by industry statistics, around a 25% increase would have been an estimated increase the industry envisaged, he said.

The published figure of 45% has pleasantly surprised us as well. I believe the trend for the second half will slow down from the published figures to date and we may end up with an overall growth of around 25% year-on-year. That will mean that we could well get to around US $ 4 billion mark if published figures to date are accurate,” he said.

“We have little control over the economic dynamics causing all the uncertainty in the countries we export to in particular the EU and the US.

“What we can do is focus on servicing our customers as they would still need inventories to run their business and this would cover great value on time deliveries, high AQL standards and good logistics for one line operational effectiveness.

“The industry is currently on an islandwide campaign to improve the image of the industry workers. There is a perception created by many including politicians that it is degrading for girls in particular to be involved in the garment trade. Our industry had been the pride of this nation for decades and has created an image that ‘made in Sri Lanka’ means something. We have a great ethically vibrant industry where our workers are the heart and soul of the success of this industry.”

“We are proud of that fact and now conducting road shows around the island in order that this is clearly communicated to all the stakeholders and the public in general so that all these wrong perceptions are corrected. The campaign is in its early days having completed Puttalam, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, and will move into Trincomalee and work down south in the months ahead,” Abayakoon said.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 01:28 PM   #179
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SL Design Festival to be held from Nov 16-20
October 18, 2011


For the third consecutive year, the SL Design Festival will run a broad ranging programme comprising of fashion shows, business to business meetings, factory visits, workshops and the forums including first South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum that will open doors to new business, networks and opportunities in the businesses of fashion, design and apparel.

This promising 2011 edition scheduled to take place from November 16-20 under the theme of ‘Close-up on Sri Lanka’ at the Mt. Lavinia Hotel; a 200 year old colonial mansion turned suburban, sea-side resort, promises to be an unforgettable experience for both commercial and casual visitors across the globe.

The festival provides a valuable prospect to apparel industry buyers, brands, retailers, SMEs, designers and fashion opinion leaders to obtain an insight in to Sri Lanka’s award-winning ethical, apparel industry by getting the opportunity to meet a variety of world class factories as part of their tailor made itineraries and to conduct business-to-business meetings which will be pre-matched for them by the SLDF team facilitating unique sourcing opportunities in Sri Lanka.

Apart from this, a main event that gathers some of the biggest names in local and international fashion and apparel is the South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum.

This prestigious forum discusses topics that impact the fashion and apparel industry as it stands whilst hearing about what initiatives are taking place across the industry and from a host country point Sri Lanka will share its unique practices giving insight in to why Sri Lanka is known as the words sustainable fashion sourcing destination.

In addition to a ‘Close – up on Fashion and Apparel’ .SLDF also provides two equally powerful agendas and programs parallel to the fashion and apparel agenda on traditional craft in contemporary creation and cutting edge design under the themes ‘Close-up on Crafts’ and ‘Close-up on design’.

Sri Lanka Design Festival
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Old October 20th, 2011, 07:29 AM   #180
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Tough stitch but apparel industry wears resilient cap
Daily FT, October 20, 2011

Amidst woes in US and European markets, Sri Lanka’s apparel sector has survived to grow with the outlook for the next few quarters remaining positive, industry sources told the Daily FT yesterday.

Whilst July saw earnings from textiles and garments increase year on year by 5% to US$ 385 million, the highest monthly value, August exports had grown by 21.7% to $ 359 million.

Cumulative exports in the first eight months had topped the US$ 2.8 billion mark, reflecting a 47% increase in comparison to the corresponding period of last year. In the first seven months up to July, the cumulative growth was 29% to $ 2.4 billion.
Industry analysts said that though some sections even within the sector had been baffled by high growth data in relation to highly recessionary conditions in major markets US and Europe and in the case of latter loss of preferential entry window GSP++, dynamics were favourable to Sri Lanka.

“Recently a top retailer in Europe, H&M opened office in Colombo after having started to source from Sri Lanka around two years ago.

This latest development was on top of two other big European buyers setting up shop in the past two years. They include Turkish GATT Group and Indian unit of Knor Lanka both representing the George at Azda, considered to be the Wallmart of Europe,” industry sources said.

These buyers have been stepping up purchases from Sri Lanka. This and other improvements have boosted exports, they added.

Another positive development is an Italian buyer setting up a major plant in Vavuniya with an envisaged investment worth $ 25 million.

It was also pointed out that a pickup in sourcing from a small base in Sri Lanka reflects big in data. The level of activity in the apparel sector is also confirmed by the fact that its import of inputs had risen by 43% to $ 1.3 billion as at end July.
Robust apparel exports had been a key contributor to an overall 30% growth in exports up to July this year topping the US$ 6 billion mark
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