The Bogart Lingerie Myanmar Training Centre (BTC) will be based in the firms recently opened third manufacturing plant in Yangon

The Bogart Lingerie Myanmar Training Centre (BTC) will be based in the firm's recently opened third manufacturing plant in Yangon

Bogart Lingerie, one of the world's largest intimate apparel exporters, is taking the next step in its commitment to manufacturing in Myanmar with the opening of a new training centre in the country at the end of this month.

The Bogart Lingerie Myanmar Training Centre (BTC) will be based in the firm's recently opened third manufacturing plant in Yangon, and has several goals, the company tells just-style.

On the one hand, it will provide educational structures to train 3,000 workers – 1,500 newly hired – during the next two years and give them the opportunity to become multi-skilled.

Additionally, the aim is to train a much-needed middle management in lean manufacturing.

However, Bogart Lingerie also emphasises its intention is to extend the training centre's influence well beyond its own factory walls. It will include internships for Masters students from Myanmar and Germany, as well as visits from Yangon University students. Seminars around lean transformation are also expected to take place.

"The objectives of the Bogart Lingerie Myanmar Training Centre are clearly about increasing the competitiveness of the Myanmar garment industry by increased productivity and career opportunities," Jose Manuel Sevilla, executive director at Bogart Lingerie Limited, explains. 

"This is a leading initiative to create long-term richness, and enhance the lives of thousands of households in one of the poorest societies that today faces the challenges that no country is free of with amazing hope and determination."

The training will include a three-month vocational basic sewing course for workers; and advanced training for line leaders, technicians, industrial engineering, quality control and mechanics. Also on offer will be social standard training, and and lean management training.

The core idea behind lean manufacturing is to maximise customer value while minimising waste (that is, any activity that does not add value to the product) along the entire manufacturing process. This means less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time is required to produce high-quality, lower-cost products than with traditional business systems. 

An integrated element of lean manufacturing is working towards continuous improvement and employee satisfaction through stable employment and improved wages. "At the same time, factory productivity and customer values also improve. It's a win-win situation for Bogart, its customers and employees."

A number of different international stakeholders are involved in the project, motivated by the wider vision of a modern, transparent and sustainable garment industry in Myanmar. 

This includes NGOs like SMART Myanmar, Pyoe Pin, Aung Myin Hmu (AMH) Garment Skills Training Centre and The Danish Ethical Trading Initiative (DIEH); and the growing Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA), which is promoting a responsible and ethical industry.

There is also input from the academic and corporative worlds, research and private initiatives, working closely in alliance with Yangon Technological University.

The development partnership with Bogart Lingerie is part of the program that the German Investment and Development Company (DEG) implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

For Bogart Lingerie, a privately-owned Hong Kong based multinational business, Myanmar is a key production base "where we can be more competitive and at the same time develop the most efficient and modern manufacturing processes."

The company was the first international lingerie manufacturer to begin production in the nation, and its strategy from the outset has been to make its most complex products here.

Speaking to just-style two years ago, Sevilla explained: "We chose to start with probably the most difficult garments we had in our range. The thinking behind this was there is no workforce in the country trained to make any of our products. They know how to sew, the operators may have worked on T-shirts or shirts before, but nothing like a bra. So if we have to train them, let's make them the most skilful of all."

As well as its factories in Myanmar, Bogart Lingerie operates four facilities in China – two in Panyu and two in Shenzhen – and another in Bangkok, Thailand.

"This project is a pivotal meeting point of many aspirations about compliance, productivity and enhancement of living standards in a country that not long ago was a sort of outcast in the arguably fastest emerging economic region in the world," Sevilla says.

He goes on to add: "With this expansion [in Myanmar], Bogart continues to give support to its customers in Europe, Australia and North America with a competitive and skilled manufacturing platform of intimate apparel, activewear, swimwear and loungewear garments."

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