Blog: Leonie BarrieBangladesh's ambitious goal on apparel exports

Leonie Barrie | 14 December 2014

The Bangladesh ready-made garment industry has set out an ambitious goal to double its exports to $50bn over the next seven years as it works to rebuild its reputation in the wake of recent tragedies. But while the plans are big in scope they are also short on detail, and executives at last week's inaugural Dhaka Apparel Summit suggest massive challenges still remain if the country is to reach its goal.

The timing of the Summit coincided with the release of new data on US apparel imports. While these continued to grow in October as retailers continued their push to stock up on holiday merchandise, three of the top-ten supplier countries - Vietnam, Honduras and India - saw strong double-digit growth. But Bangladesh tumbled for the eighth month in a row.

Three Bangladeshi factories, however, are set to benefit from up to US$10m in funding in order to make fire and building safety improvements as part of a new programme set up by VF Corp. The financing arrangement is designed to help VF suppliers and has been set up in conjunction with the World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Also in South Asia, Pakistan's textile industry has been promised an investment of $1bn per year that could potentially double exports over five years, following the signing of a new deal to import electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

In the US, the long-serving and often controversial CEO of teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has stepped down. The move by Mike Jeffries follows several quarters of lacklustre sales for the group and opens up something of a challenging role for his replacement.

just-style has also spoken with Seth Ellison, Levi Strauss group's president for Europe. The denim stalwart, which has been battling sluggish traffic trends, international challenges and a revolution in activewear, is looking to re-establish leadership in its sector. A touch of nostalgia, plenty of innovation, adjustments in sourcing strategy, and global expansion are all part of the plan.

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