Logistics company DHL is investing US$10m over the next five years to expand its services in Vietnam, including the launch of a fashion and apparel centre to support the country's fast-growing garment export industry.

The "DHL Fashion and Apparel Center for Excellence" will be the firm's first in South East Asia, and will comprise of a core team of industry experts who will help develop tailored solutions and provide a range of consultancy services.

The fashion and apparel industry is "one of the core focus areas" for DHL, according to Amadou Diallo, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding South Asia Pacific.

"This industry contributed nearly US$2.6bn to Vietnam in the first four months of 2009 alone, with US$9.5bn in exports projected for 2009.

"Despite the economic slowdown, the sector is predicted to grow at 5% for the year which demonstrates some degree of resilience compared to other sectors."

DHL estimates the fashion and apparel logistics industry in South Asia and South East Asia to be worth US$3.9bn per annum - of which Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia are estimated to account for well over US$2.5bn.

The Center, which is due to open at the end of this year, is being run through a joint venture called DHL Global Forwarding (Vietnam) Corporation, which has been set up with DHL's local Vietnam partners including Oriental Logistic.

Other investments planned by the company include expanding existing facilities, employee training, upgrading of information systems and introducing an enhanced range of services for businesses in Vietnam.

Among its logistics and supply chain services are international and domestic cargo freight forwarding, labelling and packaging, storage and warehousing, and customs clearance.

So far this year DHL has opened a Fashion Competency Centre in Hong Kong to service customers in the North Asia Pacific area, as well as Fashion Centers of Excellence in India and Sir Lanka.