Wacoal Europe eyeing further expansion of manufacturing base in Sri Lanka.
Daily Mirror: Wacoal, a leading designer and manufacturer of high-quality, plus size lingerie and bra-sized swimwear for the European market says Sri Lanka’s strong competitive advantages as a manufacturing destination for high-end apparel items continue to apply, notwithstanding the current situation.
According to Wacoal Europe Supply Chain Director Andrew Yeomans, Sri Lanka scores high on all key criteria required of a manufacturing base for high-end lingerie in specific and high-end fashion in general.
“In the 1990s and 2000s, lingerie manufacturers saw Sri Lanka as ‘the place to be’. Companies like Courtaulds and Coats Viyella made great efforts to transfer skills to Sri Lanka and as a result, there was a large manufacturing shift from the UK to Sri Lanka. Now, especially in lingerie, Sri Lanka has a very high skill base. Adding to that, Sri Lankan apparel industry pioneers also invested heavily in building a robust raw material supply chain for the industry. Sri Lanka’s location along major shipping routes is also a plus. Before the pandemic, shipping lead time to the UK was only around four weeks,” he added.
Wacoal initially came to Sri Lanka in 2005 through a partnership with a leading Sri Lankan manufacturer. “We have been continually upscaling our operations in Sri Lanka and now employ more than 1200 in our team,” said Yeomans.
He revealed that despite the recent challenges faced by the island nation, production volumes of Wacoal Lanka – the Sri Lankan entity – have been maintained. Wacoal is eyeing further expansion of its manufacturing base in Sri Lanka, with two additional production lines being added in the coming months. In tandem, the company continues to invest in new technology. Wacoal, a market leader in the plus-size lingerie categories, promotes inclusivity and body positivity via women’s intimate wear with its extensive brand portfolio for Wacoal Europe which includes Wacoal, Fantasie, Freya, Elomi and Goddess.
“We saw far more of an impact from the pandemic, which caused challenges across all manufacturing bases, compared with the situation in Sri Lanka right now. We continue to have confidence in the country and believe strongly that we made the correct decision in continuing to invest in the country.
Despite challenges, Sri Lankan authorities understand the importance of the apparel exports industry and have continued to support the sector. Our team on the ground, similar to the rest of the country, has been very resilient and continues to meet every new challenge placed in front of them,” stressed Yeomans.
Wacoal Europe’s decision to expand operations in Sri Lanka is indicative of the growing business potential in the country’s apparel industry to the overall economy. Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is one of the key foreign exchange earners to the country and has recorded a steady growth in the past few months despite facing challenges posed by the global pandemic. The many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country have also helped boost Sri Lanka’s apparel industry. However, Sri Lanka’s economy has been resilient to external and internal challenges in the past and has once again shown its strength with the country’s private sector continuing to record growth levels as well as impressive profits. The country’s businesses engaged in the apparel industry have also recorded profits indicating the business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s apparel industry. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore confidently explore the growing opportunities in Sri Lanka’s apparel industry whole also looking at the possibility of forming partnerships or joint ventures with local businesses engaged in the apparel industry.
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