The boss of a leading Sri Lankan garment manufacturer says that research and development (R&D) further down the supply chain would benefit the apparel industry.

Ashroff Omar, CEO of Brandix Lanka, called for production lines more akin to the automotive industry - with mills, R&D centres and factories on a single site.

Speaking at The Textile Institute Centenary Conference in Manchester today (3 November), he said: "The model I am suggesting is one my company is focusing on at the moment. We looked at the common factors that have helped other industries do what they do."

He also said that the beverage, airline and mobile phone sectors had thrived from successful R&D, while there was "very little transformation" when it came to apparel products.

Omar, who heads Sri Lanka's largest garment exporter, added: "The general consensus is that the industry is in a difficult place due to price inflation and has a very bleak future. But what if it has a more prosperous future?

"The apparel industry is a virgin industry. We have a massive market and multitude of suppliers, so there is plenty of white space for emerging manufacturers to fill."