2. Introduction :
The apparel industry of Sri Lanka employs about 15% of the country's workforce,
accounting for about 40% of the country's total exports,and Sri Lanka is among
the top apparel-producing countries in the world relative to its population. Being
holding the 20th
position of the Global apparel exporters, Si Lanka has made
significant changes since 1970s.
Sri Lanka's apparel industry began to grow significantly in the 1980s, because of
its open economic policy as well as the trade and investment friendly
environment. Under the quota regime from US, Sri Lanka became an attractive
new venue for businesses.
Over the next few decades, the apparel industry grew to represent Sri Lanka's
number one exporter. Following a 38% increase in textile-based revenue from
1996, in which the industry generated 30 billion in earnings, 50 new textile
factories opened in Sri Lanka in 1998. As of the late 2000s (decade), the Sri Lankan
textile industry contributes 39% to the industrial production of the country and
represents 43% of the country's total exports. Since the 1970s, the industry has
grown to become the country's largest single source of export revenue.
Currently, Sri Lanka apparel industry employed about 350,000 people in 850
The Sri Lankan textile industry contributes and represents the country's total
export from this 850 garment manufacturing units (factories) across the country.
This is owned by more than 180 garment exporting companies registered under
the Chamber of Commerce and Apparel exporters association and more than 40
apparel sourcing companies (buying hubs) inside the country.
3. Major Categories and Brands
Sri Lankan Apparel categories span Sportswear, Lingerie, Loungewear, Bridal
wear, Work wear, Casual wear, Swimwear across all genders and Children’s wear.
These products are manufactured and exported with the flexibility of catering to
specific seasons of many countries around the world. USA and the UK have
historically been the largest buyers of Sri Lankan apparel throughout the decades.
Namely with many brands as in,
Abercrombie & Fitch
American Eagle Outfitters
Beverly Hills Polo Club
C & A
Charming Shopps Inc.
Columbia Sportswear Co.
Eurofiel Confeccion S.A.
Federated Dept. Stores
H & M
4. Hugo Boss
J C Penny
Levi Strauss & Co
Lucky Brand Jeans
Marks & Spencer
Oscar de La Renta
Export of Apparel Jan-Mar (Cumulative)
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2014/2015
Change %US$. Mn US$. Mn US$. Mn US$. Mn US$. Mn US$. Mn
Total Exports 675.0 1,022.0 989.0 990.5 1,213.9 1,204.4 -0.78
US 287.7 408.0 401.0 423.0 515.7 540.3 4.76
EU 333.1 512.0 487.0 451.6 554.6 521.9 -5.91
Other 54.2 102.0 101.0 115.9 143.6 142.3 -0.87
5. Sri Lanka as a Hub for design and Sourcing
This is very important aspect when considering the marketing of fabric and
accessories inside Sri Lanka, Includes introducing of new products range and
Sri Lanka held its largest ever Design Festival, highlighting the country's high-
fashion merchandise, upcoming designers and advancing the industry's desire to
become known as a hub for design, as well as manufacturing.
Sri Lankan Apparel companies have being working with the world best brands for
decades and over the last few years invested in developing local design talent
combining them, are now able to deliver products of international quality and
style to the market.
** So our challenge would be to introduce our selves to such innovators and
introduce our product range so that they could use our products and services for
their new designs.
6. Fabric and Accessories Supplying in SL
My point over above is to give you an introduction and to explain the size of the
apparel trade in Sri Lanka as in nutshell.
China is the biggest supplier for Fabric and trims to Sri Lanka at $ 175 mil worth of
supply, it is not so hard to find business inside the country itself.
But ever since the industry has expanded their business rapidly, the supply chain
has increased equally in the country itself. There have been many Fabric mills and
accessory companies stationed and start producing all kinds of items that
corporate with apparel products in Sri Lanka.
Accordingly Fabric and apparel Accessory manufacturers association registered in
Sri Lanka as to generate a good and more efficient business throughout the
country. Hence in order to compete with, there are many business agents being
appointed for those international fabric and accessories manufactures from other
countries such as China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Taiwan etc….
7. Marketing Offices were appointed in Sri Lanka in the formation of either by locals
or by the country representatives or with both. They are paid as monthly salary or
as commission. Since the total marketing done by the representatives, the cost of
additional expenses has being decreased by many ways.
1. Language Barriers
Most of the developments and merchandise done through local
merchandisers. It is very easy to communicate by using the mother
language. Frequent TP con’s and meeting with each other has made easy
2. Frequent visits
In most of the apparel manufacturing units, the merchandisers are
frequently on busy schedules. Hence while visiting them can be potential
on new developing business and when there are new things will be
discussed at the desk itself.
Having a reputation in the industry, plays a major role in convincing others.
Experience and knowledge will be an added advantage how to explain the
product. Negotiations are much easy.
4. Competitive market
Since there are many suppliers and manufactures in the country for fabric
and accessory manufacturing, will have to compete with them on pricing
and services frequently. As in quick sample turnarounds, and giving best
prices will make many merchandise easy to achieve.
8. 5. Trends studying, research and development
It is very vital to have someone who is ready for changes and to fallow on
new trends. It is expected that apparel industry would benefit through this
events. Creativity and newness and being ready to develop new things are
vital things which give value to the customer.
Traveling expenses are minimal when compared traveling from overseas to
Sri Lanka frequently. Since most of the Garment offices and the hub offices
are stationed in Colombo, frequent visits can be done on regular basis.
During the peak season, principles can join over by visiting.
None Apparel Industry
Though none apparel is not so widely improved in export market but has a big
potential market in locally. Especially on hand Bags, Baggage, back packs, shoes,
wallets has made a big impact on the market.
So our intention should not be only on to apparel, as well as to none apparel
industry. We could find many manufacturing units in SL where we can consider on
developing the customer base as well.
I believe there are sufficient opportunities out there as a supplier to continue to
grow and be a major player in the apparel trade in Sri Lanka. We need to create
an environment that will actively support the customer with the flexibility to
adapt to the changes and to be one step ahead of the competitors.
I strongly believe having a business relationship as the principles and
representative will benefit on all aspects of promoting products in SL market.