Blog: Michelle RussellEthiopia apparel and textile industry making massive gains

Michelle Russell | 8 May 2017

just-style's editor Leonie Barrie recently visited Ethiopia to see for herself the massive developments taking place to elevate this East African nation into a compelling new garment and textile sourcing hub for brands, retailers and their suppliers.

The special reports have included details of plans shared by Dr Arkebe Oqubay, a minister and special advisor to Ethiopia's Prime Minister, targeting garment and textile exports worth $30bn by 2025: a huge goal for a country whose annual shipments currently sit at just $115m.

There is also an in-depth look at the new Epic Apparel facility at the Hawassa Industrial Park, which has completed its first commercial garment shipment to US retailer The Children's Place.

The Hawassa Industrial Park - where 60,000 jobs and US$1bn in exports are targeted by the end of next year - is one of a network of specialised clothing and textile hubs taking shape across the country.

And textile investment is also pouring into Ethiopia, helped by the shared vision of brands, manufacturers and fabric mills, government support, preferential trade deals, investments in infrastructure, low costs - and an unexpected windfall from the end of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Meanwhile, April proved to be the latest in a line of difficult months for the handful of US apparel retailers still reporting their monthly comparable sales figures, with all but one recording a decline.

Outside of the US, German sportswear giant Adidas confirmed its full-year guidance after booking a "strong" start to the year, with its namesake and Reebok brands. And UK retailer Sainsbury's said its clothing business outperformed a challenging market in its last fiscal year amid a fall in pre-tax profit during the period.

Marks & Spencer has made what one analyst described as a "formidable appointment" with the hiring of Archie Norman as its new chairman, replacing the outgoing Robert Swannell. This followed the appointment of Jill McDonald to the newly created role of managing director of clothing, home and beauty.

In Bangladesh, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety suspended the operations of another nine garment factories for failing to prioritise remediation. The move, part of the Alliance's efforts to make Bangladesh's garment factories safe, brings to 146 the total number of factories with which the group has now cut ties.

It also passed ten affiliated factories for completing all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), bringing the total number of factories completing their CAPs to 76.

In other news, Lululemon has launched a "revolutionary" sports bra featuring high-performance fabric; GOTS has seen a 21% rise in the number of certified facilities; Bestseller is preparing to make its supplier factory information public; SGS has developed a new testing service that assesses the amount of microfibres released by garments during normal domestic laundering; and Amazon has launched its own fashion line - Find.

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