Sewing companies see silver lining ahead of festivals

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Tailors work in a tailor shop in the capital Dhaka recently. Tailoring firms are seeing a silver lining as demand for bespoke dresses has surged ahead of Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bengali New Year, and Eid-ul-Fitr, one of Muslims’ biggest religious holidays. — New Age Photo

Tailoring firms are seeing a silver lining as demand for bespoke dresses has surged ahead of Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bengali New Year, and Eid-ul-Fitr, one of Muslims’ biggest religious holidays.

The companies, however, said demand had increased from that of the previous two years, but were still struggling to overcome the impact of Covid.

They said their business was still 50% lower than pre-Covid and they needed to offer discounts and gift cards to attract customers.

They are turning to tax support and credit facilities on easy terms and conditions to weather the crisis.

Secretary General of Bangladesh Dress Makers Association, BM Harunur Rashid, told New Age that companies have a hectic schedule to fulfill customer orders on time, but still only work with half of their employees to maintain their operations.

He said, “Prices for tailoring services in the country are volatile and depend on customer demand, while the risk of order cancellation is over 40% based on current market conditions.”

Top Ten general manager Muzzamal Haque expected them to do better business at upcoming festivals.

He said they offered discounts of up to 7% and also offered various gift cards to attract customers.

Overcoming the Covid losses is a difficult task under the current conditions, but if the situation continues to normalize, they might be able to overcome the losses, he added.

Doly Azad, owner of Moonlight Tailors, said the tailoring business has been going through a tough time since the country’s Covid outbreak.

The business is down from the pre-Covid period and is trying to survive by cutting the cost of businesses like downsizing, she said.

“However, by targeting upcoming festivals, we hope to do some business to recoup the losses suffered from the Covid crisis,” she added.

Dabbar Fabrics and Tailors owner Amran Mahmud said he is focused on reducing business costs while maintaining the quality of their produced dresses.

They have to reduce their workforce and existing workers are working overtime to meet demand, he said.

“There has been no activity for the past two years and we have suffered a huge loss,” he said.

This time there is good preparation targeting Eid-ul-Fitr to overcome the losses, he said, adding that new investments have also been made.

According to BDMA sources, there are about 50,000 sewing shops in the country and more than 10 lakh people are employed in the sector.

Due to the Covid outbreak, the industry has suffered financial losses of almost Tk 500 crore since 2020 and many skilled designers and cutting masters have been forced out of the profession, the sources said.

In this context, sewing shop owners proposed that the government reduce the value added tax rate from 10% to 4.50% in the national budget for the next financial year 2022-23 to revive their business.

BDMA General Secretary BM Harunur Rashid told New Age that the companies are seeking government support to revive their business.

He said: ‘Many have been forced to close their businesses as operating costs have become higher than profits.

Although a number of businesses received minimum financial support from the government’s stimulus package, the amount was too small to recover from the economic losses of Covid for the sector, Harunur said.

He said: “Sewing is part of the business of SMEs. Thus, the process to benefit from the financial support of the government recovery plan is too difficult for companies.

“A number of companies like Belmonte, Top Ten, Sunmoon and Aziz have an employment capacity of over sixty people while many run their business with only two or three workers. And stores are mostly starved of stimulus support,” he said.

BDMA, a member association of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, has submitted several proposals to the apex trade body to boost the sector to make a significant contribution to the economy.

Harunur said, “A total of 10,000 businesses pay VAT on their service under VAT code S036300.”

Some tailors made new investments in the business ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr in hopes of overcoming the losses they suffered last year, he said.

According to business insiders, the demand for new clothes and suit pants increases several times before Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha.

Tailors carry out more than half of their total annual activity before the country’s two major Muslim religious holidays.


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