Not content with exporting garment and textile products worth around US$2 million to the European Union this year, March-8 Garment Co, a subsidiary of the Vietnam Garment and Textile Corporation (Vinatex), says that it now plans to position itself as a "formidable" market leader.

The company has announced that it will invest VND595 billion (about US$40 million) over the next five years across its entire production process from spinning to garment-making. It has already spent VND226 billion, or over 40 per cent of the total investment, this year alone. The majority of the money has gone on upgrading its warehouses and equipment.

The company has a chequered history, accumulating debts of VND200 billion between 1995 and 1998 and unused inventories of 4 million square metres of fabric. Vinatex and the Ministry of Industry intervened in 1998 to reschedule the company's debt and upgrade its production lines. The turnaround was completed in 1999, and last year turnover climbed to VND255 billion.

Investing in new machines and technology is seen as crucial to its success. In the first quarter of 2001, a new export garment enterprise with 11 Japanese-made Juki production lines and 459 workers was launched.

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