ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon Print
Business trends

Bangladesh fights for future of its garment industry

Sector that earns 83% of country's export revenue faces intensifying competition

Garment makers in Bangladesh are investing in automation to rein in rising labor costs and maintain competitiveness. (Photo by Mitsuru Obe)

DHAKA -- A two-hour drive south from the crowded streets of Dhaka, a modern apparel factory stands along dusty streets lined with ramshackle stalls and busy with rickshaws. The state-of-the-art factory can produce 240,000 men's suits per month for western apparel brands such as Sweden's H&M and Britain's Marks & Spencer.

"We used to cut by hand. Now we use machines. You needed 15 people before. Now you need only two," said Chethiya Jayakody, chief executive of Universal Menswear, the plant operator. Most of the 4,800 workers -- 85% of them women -- did not have any experience of making suits, but that is no problem for Jayakody. "You have a fully automatic sewing machine. The machine does everything if the operators are not skillful," said the Sri Lankan manager, who previously worked for an American company.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

Discover the all new Nikkei Asia app

  • Take your reading anywhere with offline reading functions
  • Never miss a story with breaking news alerts
  • Customize your reading experience

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more