Abu Taher Bappa

2020-05-28 13:42:24 BdST

Beximco plans to build mask factory in Detroit

Beximco Group, Bangladesh's renowned textile company is set to build mask factory in Detroit as demand surges for protective gear in the United States.

Bangledesh's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and US Ambassador Earl Miller on Monday sendoff Beximco Group's first shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the US.

Bangladesh's Beximco Group said it will set up a plant in Detroit to make masks as demand surges for protective gear in the US, the nation with the most coronavirus cases.

The Dhaka-based conglomerate, which started selling the generic version of Gilead Sciences Inc.'s antiviral drug this month in the South Asian nation, will invest $20 million in the Detroit plant, said Syed Naved Husain, chief executive officer of the group's textile business, Crains Detroit reported.

The company will also invest $30 million on a plant at home, he said.

Beximco's textile unit is tapping new opportunities as luxury brands from New York to Paris scrap garment orders amid the pandemic. The company expects the Detroit plant to be ready in nine months, while the one in Bangladesh will start production in four months, Husain said.

"This comes from a process we've been at for more than a year," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday afternoon when asked about the plan during a coronavirus response briefing.

Detroit had been recruiting a Bangladeshi company to manufacture jeans in the city, Duggan said, but when the Covid-19 outbreak took hold, the company brought in partners and pivoted to making personal protective equipment.

The company will initially supply N95 masks in Detroit before expanding to other parts of the US, Husain said.

"Nobody picks Detroit at random. This is a result of (Detroit Economic Growth Corp. CEO) Kevin Johnson and the DEGC team and our economic development team," Duggan said. "I think it's time we start to make clothes back in the United States, and we've been working on that for the last year or two. And I didn't expect PPE would be the first plant to come ..."

The mayor said the city is looking for a site for the factory.

Beximco said Hanesbrands Inc. bought 6.5 million personal protective equipment items from the company to supply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday.

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