Far East Knitting and Dyeing Industries LTD (FEKDIL) was established in 1994 as a small stitching unit and over the years the partners expanded into fabric and garment manufacturing too. 27 years down the line, FEKDIL is regarded as one of the top factories in Bangladesh with a focus on sustainable production and inputs. In an interview with Fibre2Fashion, Zayed Moyeen, Director of FEKDIL, throws light on the factors which are encouraging the growth of Bangladesh’s garment industry, the turnaround story of FEKDIL and plans going forward.
What is the size of the garment industry of Bangladesh?
With approximately 4,200 textile factories, Bangladesh ranks as the second largest exporter of garments in the world with an annual revenue of $36 billion until June 2020, accounting for almost 82 per cent of the nation's total export proceeds.
What factors are going to drive the growth of Bangladesh's garment industry going forward?
The garment sector has performed incredibly well in the past decade and managed to capitalise on the advantages we have as a country. With a 4 million strong workforce and increased demand for Bangladeshi apparels from foreign buyers, these are the two factors which we must continue to improve on, among others. We will at some point lose our competitive edge in terms of cheap labour--costs to factory owners are rising year on year, and we must ensure development of skilled workforce from worker to mid level managers and help them evolve as the industry does.?
As cost of labour and factory overheads rise, it is becoming even more crucial to find different ways of remaining competitive and focusing on other areas such as positive brand buidling of the country and a move towards greener and environment friendly processes in production through next gen machines and sustainable practices in our production.?
With the super competitive RMG market coupled with the global impact of the pandemic, the fight for prices is sharper than before and we must be wary as factory owners of how we can add value at a time like this and set ourselves apart from the rest, while trying to keep our margins intact. Sustainability and 'going green' may count for a lot more than what we think in the upcoming decade.
Does any percentage of your product mix go towards the domestic market within Bangladesh? How has the domestic market shaped up in the last couple of years?
No, we are export totally oriented only. The domestic demand for apparels has risen with the rapid expansion of the middle-class accounting for approximately 40 million people (22 per cent of population). This has led to several companies starting to set up their local brands and retailers in major cities and even exporting their own products to various countries. This again helps to add a positive outlook of the industry and "brand Bangladesh".?
What is the story behind the formation of FEKDIL? Who are the promoters/ founders?
FEKDIL was established in 1994, by my father and two of his close friends/associates. In fact, they were bankers working together at BCCI in Hong Kong and decided they would move back home to Bangladesh and set up their own textile/garment factory. Starting out as a small garmenting unit, FEKDIL slowly expanded into fabric production and added capacity, and today 27 years later we are regarded as one of the leading knit composite exporters in the country with a workforce of 5500 and a daily garmenting capacity of 100,000 pieces per day. With investmnents and development in more efficient machines and practices, we steadily grew over the years and are proud of our reputation and relationships with our buyers and suppliers at home and abroad.
FEKDIL is also a listed company on the Dhaka Stock Exchange since 2014 with an annual turnover of $44 million (2020). Over the years, we have increased capacity in our garmenting and fabric units while also investing in printing and garment washing facilities further adding value to our capabilties. Most notably we have been able to set up our own yarn manufacturing unit (Far East Spinning Industries Ltd, a sister concern) which is a state-of-the-art LEED certified spinning mill functioning in the north of Bangladesh in Sylhet. It is the only mill in the country producing 100 per cent compact yarn only and run 40 per cent on solar power. In 2020, FEKDIL bought 20 per cent into FESIL.
My father, Asif Moyeen, is the majoirty shareholder and managing director of the company. The other two founders are Farha Lazina, chairman of FEKDIL and MB Quasem, director of FEKDIL.?
What was the turnaround year for the company? What is its growth story?
In the last 20 years, so much has changed in the RMG sector so rapidly that it is difficult to pinpoint any single year. Starting from where we started, it took a lot of hard work from everyone involved at the top all the way down to our employees in the garment lines to help us grow to this level. A few key years would have been 2005 when the GSP with EU was introduced to allow quota free textile trade. This was a good move given that our core clientele were EU based and prompted us to consolidate with those buyers and plan a long term strategy with them leading to key investments in value additions like printing, washing, embroidery. Ofcourse 2014 was an important year as we went public but in the years prior to that, my father was quite clear in his idea of increasing capacity and becoming more sustainably conscious. With the spotlight on climate change and being eco-friendly, we bought modern and more efficient machines in dyeing and fabric finishing and then decided to set up our own cotton spinning mill in 2018 with a focus on creating a sustainable green factory to further add value to our supply chain. Producing about 15,000 kgs of compact cotton yarn and 3 tonnes of viscose yarn daily along with the ability to do organic cotton and sustainable viscose for our customers like Zara, Mango and Lidl, accounts for nearly 50 per cent of FEKDIL's yarn requirement, which were previously buying from India or from other mills locally. This allows us to drop our lead time and sharpness in communication with the buyers for prospective orders. Now we can offer our clients a fully integrated one stop shop from raw cotton all the way to final packaged goods all under the Far East brand.?
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