The recent success of high-end apparel manufacturing nations like Sri Lanka can be attributed to three defining characteristics including robust secondary supply chains, high-skilled staff and a cost-competitive location. Sri Lanka has one of the most skilled workforce besides being strategically located, says Norman Collier, Director, Stretchline Holdings. The company is the largest manufacturer of narrow elasticated fabric in the world. It is also a major supplier of covered elastomeric yarn and textile coating and bonding solutions.
Building robust secondary supply chain in Sri Lanka
Having commenced operations in Sri Lanka in 1996, Stretchline currently has seven production plants and over 3,400 employees in the country. The company has partnered companies like MAS Holdings to build a robust secondary supply chain in Sri Lanka, adds Collier. MAS Holdings has some of the most advanced production plants in Sri Lanka. Even 25 years ago, these plants were more advanced than the factories in the UK, adds Collier.
Producing for some of the world’s best-known high-end intimate and activewear brands like Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Lululemon and PVH, the Sri Lanka workforce has become highly skilled. “There is also a strong alignment between the high-end segments specialized by Sri Lankan manufacturers and local available resources. Manufacturers in the country have been focusing on higher –margin businesses to pay their workers more,” explains Collier.
This strategy also enables the Sri Lankan apparel sector to invest in research and development, innovation and capacity development.
A strategic move under five-year plan
The Sri Lankan apparel industry has a bright future ahead, says Collier. His company Stretchline continues to invest in Sri Lanka under its ongoing five-year plan. The market is an important part of its overall strategy. Stretchline has made significant contributions in central warehousing, yarn dyeing and its rubber covering plant.
The company has also made significant investments to make production facilities more environmentally-friendly and sustainable. It does not expect operations to be severely impacted by the country’s current downturn. The company aims to use the current downturn in business to strengthen its presence in the other locations beyond Sri Lanka, affirms Collier.