Large clothing retail brands start lining back at Sri Lankan doors
The Sri Lankan apparel manufacturing sector has started luring
several new key overseas buyers, which includes big names such as H&M,
in addition to the current M&S and NEXT, giving the industry a further
Some of the world’s leading apparel buyers had shifted their sourcing
towards low cost countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia in
the light of the global economic turmoil. However, high quality services
levels offered by Sri Lankan manufacturers have not only enabled
retaining current buyers but also attracted new buyers to the Country
“The sturdy growth shows that Sri Lanka Apparel’s overall offer is
still relevant with our customers” said Channa Palansuriya, Managing
Director of Orit Apparels and Chairman of Joint Apparel Association
Forum’s (JAAF) Image Building Committee. “The strong relationships
developed together with a stable economic climate are the main reasons
for the buyers being attracted to our country” pointed out Palansuriya.
“The end of the war has also marked certain changes in the mindset of
potential buyers. The target of the Sri Lankan apparel industry was a
revenue of USD 4 billion by the end of 2015 but we have come closer to
that target much earlier than planned and may reach it within the end of
this financial year”, he noted.
Palansuriya went on to add that during the last financial year, the
apparel exports had increased by 34% to European countries and by 22% to
the United States. Other than US and European markets, Countries like
Russia and those in Asia and Australia have imported our apparel which
has generated more than USD 340 million during the period January to
November 2011. The total revenue from apparel exports have been USD 3.8
billion during this period. This shows that Sri Lanka has managed not
only to sustain but also maintain growth in the United States and
European market, and also increase market share by 57 % in other
countries as well.
“The decades long relationships we have built with our customers have
helped move us from mere transactional to more strategic partnerships.
So by adding more value we are likely to grow with existing customers
and attract lots more new customers. H&M, the largest and fastest
growing European apparel retail chain has over 2,300 stores in 43
countries and has annual revenue of 127 billion Euros. This year H&M has
established a sourcing office in Sri Lanka in addition to current large
buyers such as M&S and NEXT, which emphasizes the level of confidence
placed in our industry” said an upbeat Palansuriya.
Sri Lanka’s exports to Europe continued to grow in spite of the
recession and the withdrawal of GSP+ benefits in August 2010. In 2005,
when the country gained duty-free status to Europe, apparel exports
posted US $1 billion revenues in the year. In 2009, at the height of the
recession, Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU stood at US $1.65 billion and
in 2010, despite the negative sentiment created with the removal of the
duty free concession, our exports maintained a higher growth level of
34% in the 1st 12 months of 2011, compared with the previous year.