With the end of economic sanctions and an investment boom, abundance of low-cost labor, Myanmar's emerging manufacturing industries is set for major growth. In a gap of less than two years, Japanese clothing retailer Honeys has increased the number of production lines at its second factory in Myanmar from five to 34.
The workforce at Yangon plant that produces shirts and jackets destined for Japan has also increased to around 2,600 from about 300 since it started operating in spring of 2015. Moreover, skill levels within the workforce have risen markedly.
In the early 2000s, Honeys began outsourcing production to China on a large scale. As labour costs began to rise, the company decided to shift part of its production to Myanmar where wages were less than one quarter of the level than that in China.
In 2012, Honeys became the first Japanese manufacturer to start production in Myanmar. It now operates two plants in the country churning out around 18,000 pieces of clothing a day. This accounts for 20-30 per cent of the company's sales in its home market. The company is now considering the construction of a third plant in Myanmar.