Takes full ownership of former JV Comfortwear, looks to further expansion of capacity
Sri Lanka's top apparel exporter Brandix has announced a major addition to its portfolio, following the acquisition of full ownership of Comfortwear (Pvt) Ltd., the Group's former joint venture with Lanka Equities.
The new cluster, Brandix Lingerie, formally launched on 1st March 2011, will see the Group emerge as a key player in the manufacture of high end specialty bras and complementary coordinates for global high street labels such as Marks & Spencer, H&M, and Victoria's Secret, the announcement said.
The two manufacturing facilities of Comfortwear in the Wathupitiwala Export Processing Zone in Nittambuwa, which have been under Brandix management since December 2008, have been restructured into a focused Bra/Lingerie facility that complements the Group's extensive product offering in categories such as casualwear, intimates, briefs, textiles, knits and accessories, Brandix Group Director AJ Johnpillai said.
Brandix Lingerie also acquired a third manufacturing facility within the zone in October 2010 in order to achieve the scale and capacity that its key customers require, and is looking at further expansion and consolidation of its lingerie manufacturing capacity within the region, he disclosed.
According to Brandix Lingerie Director Dave Ranasinghe, "Specialty lingerie, particularly core and fashion bras, is a category with tremendous potential and the Brandix Group is making a substantial commitment through financial investment and recruitment of technical competencies to integrate this segment into its portfolio." The Group has also invested in a Joint Venture with key stakeholders located within the Brandix India Apparel City (BIAC) in Andhra Pradesh for the manufacture of bras to attain the depth and scale to be a regionally significant supplier in the future, he added.
Brandix Lingerie CEO Rajiv Malalasekera said: "There was an identified need for expansion of our capacity in this product category considering Brandix's position as a preferred supplier across varied product categories to established retail brands with a global presence. There is also a visible shift by large retailers into the region to source specialty lingerie which requires skilled labor and affordable and reliable capacity aligned with fashion lead time requirements. Hence there is an opportunity for Brandix to be a bigger player in this segment."
Disclosing that the Brandix-managed Comfortwear plant had already been rated among the top suppliers to Marks & Spencer in its specific lingerie product category, he said the Group has retained and further enhanced the facility's core competency of skilled lingerie manufacture, having brought in best practices and processes from the Brandix Group into the business during the management takeover.
Mr. Malalasekera also added that as a responsible business entity playing a lead role in the sustainable creation of employment opportunities, the consolidation of business under Brandix Lingerie would help retain and rejuvenate the workforce within the industry and thereby contribute further towards the country's export earnings.
A centralized warehouse and processing facility has already been set up on-site to serve all three manufacturing plants of Brandix Lingerie, a business that now employs 2,600 people, Mr. Malalasekera said. The number of employees deployed is expected to increase by a further 20 per cent by the second half of the year, and the company is considering acquiring more capacity in due course, he revealed.
Brandix Lingerie would continue to work closely with its UK-based design partner (FSV) in supplying the fashion lingerie manufacturing needs of Marks & Spencer, one of its principal customers, and has invested in new machinery to strengthen its capability in specialty lingerie, Mr. Malalasekera added.
The pioneer of the concept of 'total solutions' in Sri Lanka's apparel sector, Brandix is a preferred solutions provider to some of the world's leading apparel brands, including Victoria's Secret, PINK, Gap, Banana Republic, Marks & Spencer, Lands' End, Tommy Hilfiger, Hanes, Express, H&M, Intimissimi and Tesco. The Group specializes in casual bottoms, underwear, lounge and sleepwear, bras, textiles, knitted and woven fabrics, sewing and embroidery thread, accessories and hangers, and also offers wet processing and finishing and fabric printing.