FT Online

Published:
2019-07-13 11:13:58 BdST

Foreign brand stores branching out into BD


Leading global brands that source textile and garment products from Bangladesh are setting their footprints with their own-label stores here.

They are branching out into the country targeting the sizeable and rising middle-class and young generation, especially sports lovers, insiders said.

The latest move came with the opening of a flagship store by the French sporting goods and manufacturer and retailer Decathlon at Uttara-6 on Friday.

This is third of its kind after German sportswear giant Puma's penetration here in April.

The world's third-largest Japanese 'Fast Retailing Co' launched its brand 'Grameen Uniqlo' through joint venture with Grameen Bank Group in 2013.

Since 2013, according to its officials, there are 16 Grameen Uniqlo stores in the country.

Talking to the FE on Wednesday, Decathlon country manager Deepak Dsouza said: "The number of Bangladeshi sport enthusiasts is growing rapidly. We believe Decathlon can contribute to this rapid growth."

"This brand store can make sports more accessible to Bangladeshi people," he continued.

The $12-billion company has 1,500 stores in over 50 countries and is sourcing products like shoe, textile, sweater, camping equipment and bicycle component from Bangladesh for 20 years, he said.

Currently, it has business with 50 local suppliers.

Puma and Fast Retailing are also sourcing apparel items from Bangladesh, industry people said.

Decathlon's unique concept makes quality and technical sport products at a good value for money available to more local sport lovers, said Sabrina Jacksteit, the company's retail leader for Bangladesh.

"Unlike a typical big-box retail store, we've opened a sport retail lab to interact, discover new sports and introduce our brand online and in store," she added.

In the lab store, customers are encouraged to touch and experience many products before purchasing them.

They have the freedom to buy in self-service or to consult one of the sport leaders who are all sport enthusiasts themselves, Ms Jacksteit added.

She said, "We believe in growing naturally by adapting to the feedback of our customers and customising our efforts to the needs of local sports people."

Decathlon first opened its local office here in 2011. Some 180 people are working in its Dhaka and Chattogram offices, Mr Dsouza said.

The company's production has been growing 15-20 per cent annually here, he mentioned.

In 2018, the company has shipped 100 million pieces of products to 12 different custom zones from Bangladesh.

At the launch of Puma's Banani store, Puma India managing director Abhishekh Ganguly said, "Bangladesh has a rapidly growing sporting culture and is a strategically important market for us."

"This being one of the biggest Puma stores in Southeast Asia is a testimony of our commitment to all the professional and aspiring athletes here," he added.

"We aim to promote the growth of sports in this nation, supported by our unmatched equipment and gear."

Uniqlo Bangladesh liaison office country manager Russel said the high tariff structure is still a challenge for locally produced goods to sale in the market.

He sought a friendly tariff structure to supply locally produced value-added items in the local market as local demand for apparel is mostly met by imports from India and China.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Dr Rubana Huq welcomes more and more flagship stores opening here.

She said, "This only goes to prove that Bangladesh is attracting brands as they (international brands) are now considering us consumers. Tables are turning."

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