Sri Lanka’s Hela Clothing forms joint venture in East Africa to manufacture intimate products
Hela Clothing of Sri Lanka has reportedly acquired a 50% stake in Sumbiri Intimates Apparel PLC from Indonesian owner Sumber Bintang Rejeki in order to form a new joint venture in East Africa to manufacture bras and intimate products out of the Hawassa Industrial Park in Southern Ethiopia.
The Daily FT has reported that the joint operation, which at full scale will employ over 3,000 people in Hawassa Ethiopia, will increase its capacity to produce close to 1,000,000 pieces a month from 250,000 units currently, making it one of the largest bra manufacturing facilities in the world with duty free access to the US, Canada, EU and most parts of developed Asia including China.
The equal partnership joint venture has resulted in the formation of a new company, Sumbiri Hela Intimates PLC.
Speaking about the new venture Sumber Bintang Rejeki President Director Marinee Yuprapan has been quoted as saying, “We are excited to be partnering with Hela Clothing and expect it to mark a new chapter for our business in the region. Hela’s expertise in manufacturing in Africa coupled with our knowledge and expertise of the category form the foundation of a strong collaboration that will be mutually beneficial at a time when the world is on the cusp of great change.”
“The current upheaval in the industry means that brands are looking for agile suppliers that can meet their expectations in terms of quality, pricing, speed and reliability. We believe that we can exceed these requirements with this latest venture and make it the basis for long term growth,” she has noted.
The over 100,000 square foot plant will represent Hela’s first foray into bra manufacturing and has already lined up the world’s largest intimates brands – PVH owned Calvin Klein and Warners as well as Berkshire Hathaway owned Vanity Fair – as its anchor customers, the local media report stated.
“This new plant will represent growth opportunities for us at a time when global brands are re-evaluating their supply chains and looking to mitigate future risk through geographical diversification,” Hela Clothing, Intimates Division CEO Shameen Peiris has said. “We are proud to be working with Sumber Bintang Rejeki on this. Their expertise and deep knowledge of the segment make them invaluable strategic partners to us.”
“For Hela this partnership represents the next step in our journey. We believe collaboration can be an important component of creating value for our customers and be a major driver of innovation. Hence this venture will give us the opportunity to explore more product offerings and innovative solutions to help better serve our customers.”
Hela Clothing is a US$ 200 million company that provides sustainability-focused apparel supply chain solutions. The company works closely with global brands, from design to delivery, in the intimate, sleepwear and children’s product ranges. With nine factories across three countries and a workforce of over 15,000 across the globe, Hela leads the industry in ethical and sustainable working environments.
The joint venture formed in East Africa by a Sri Lankan apparel company is indicative of the strength and growth of Sri Lanka’s private sector. Sri Lanka’s business conducive environment and the many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country have made it a business hub in the South Asian region. The island’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean has also added to its advantage. Foreign businesses/investors could explore possibilities of forming partnerships/joint ventures with local companies.
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