Sri Lanka's Naturub Group of companies is to start a new factory in Bangladesh, to supply accessories to the apparel, baggage and footwear manufacturing sectors.

The Naturub Group is one of the biggest suppliers of accessories to Sri Lanka's apparel export sector and is also a direct exporter.

The new factory in Bangladesh, Naturub Accessories Bangladesh Pvt Ltd, an investment of about US$7m, will start commercial operations by November this year.

Expansion into Bangladesh is mainly due to the much larger market size and lower labour costs, said the company. 

"Bangladesh's domestic market for accessories is about five times bigger than Sri Lanka's and growing faster than Sri Lanka's as well. Their labour costs are also very much lower. Energy costs are also lower because Bangladesh has natural gas that can be used to operating equipment like boilers," marketing manager of the Naturub Group Manjula Manapperuma told just-style.

The factory will manufacture zippers, elastic and non-elastic tape, covered rubber thread and draw cords for apparel manufacturing. The factory will also produce webbing and zippers for baggage making and draw cords and zippers for shoe manufactures.

"The factory will have annual capacity for 500m metres of elastic and non elastic tape, 65-70m metres of draw cords, 5m pieces of zippers and 100,000 kilos of covered rubber thread," said Manapperuma.

The company, which will generate about 500 jobs in Bangladesh, hopes to eventually expand production to include the manufacture of sewing thread and fancy belts - already made in its two factories in Sri Lanka. 

The possibility of exporting to large manufacturing bases like India, out of Bangladesh, is also being looked into.

By Dilshani Samaraweera.