Sri Lanka's status as a significant player in the global apparel industry was acknowledged when the CEO of Brandix, Ashroff Omar, was invited to deliver a keynote address at the Centenary World Conference of The Textile Institute held recently in Manchester.
Mr. Omar explored the topic ‘manufacturing on the global stage,’ making his presentation to an august assembly comprising of world renowned corporate leaders, academics and researchers.
The conference themed ‘Creating a global vision for textiles, clothing and footwear’ recognised the need for change in the textile industry and focused on creating a platform for information exchange and networking.
“The invitation extended to Mr. Omar to be a keynote speaker at such a prominent event is evidence of Brandix's global stature,” a spokesperson for the company said. The Group's reputation for visionary leadership, innovative customer-centric solutions and business agility has earned the company the respect of the entire industry.
Brandix's pioneering efforts in sustainable manufacturing has been acknowledged in the global arena with the Brandix Eco Centre in Seeduwa being recognized as the world's first manufacturing facility to be rated LEED Platinum by the US Green Building Council. The Brandix Group's standing as a leader in eco-friendly manufacture was reaffirmed by the LEED Gold rating which was awarded to the Brandix Essentials Centre in Ratmalana, the first office building in Sri Lanka to receive this certification. The Brandix India Apparel City, a 1,000-acre apparel park in Vishakhapatnam, India demonstrates yet another bold move by the Group. This vertically-integrated manufacturing zone will bring extensive synergies and economies of scale helping propel South Asia's status as a preferred sourcing hub for apparel in the future.
In his presentation, Mr. Omar argued the need for a new business model in apparel manufacturing. He claimed that it is at present, a heavily fragmented industry stemming from the single-minded pursuit of cheap labour. He further claimed that retailers have become pseudo manufacturers taking on roles that belong within the sphere of manufacturing resulting in the escalation of costs and a lower value proposition to the consumer.
Mr. Omar contended that industries such as automobile, computer and footwear have provided consumers with “phenomenal products at great prices” whereas the apparel industry has moved in the opposite direction - providing the same product at a far higher price. Mr. Omar recommended that the new model must be one of collaboration within the value chain enabling greater research & development and the employment of breakthrough technologies.
In conclusion, he stated “I believe that, today, on the 100th anniversary of The Textile Institute, we are still a virgin industry. Automobiles, phones, televisions, airlines are all industries which have large aggressive players while the enormous apparel market has a multitude of small suppliers who do not have the scale to deliver outstanding value. There is white space for a few $ 5 billion companies.”
Andy Rubin, CEO of Pentland Group Ltd., Professor Xiao-ming Tao, Head of the Institute of Textiles and Clothing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Lord Mervyn Davies, Partner and Vice Chairman, Corsair Capital were the other keynote speakers at the event.
The Textile Institute, inaugurated in 1910, was incorporated in England by a Royal Charter granted in 1925 and is a registered charity. It is a unique organisation which has individual and corporate members in approximately 80 countries with the membership covering all sectors and disciplines of textiles, clothing and footwear. The Centenary Conference was held in Manchester as it has been home to The Textile Institute for the past 100 years.
Brandix has been recognised as the country's largest apparel exporter by the Export Development Board. Comprising of over 30 fully-integrated manufacturing facilities in Sri Lanka and overseas, the Brandix Group 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, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hanes and Express.