It was in 1998 that the garment manufacturing business started to boom in Bangladesh and in the 14 years the boom had not just sustained but extraordinarily loudened, establishing Bangladesh as the second largest exporter of readymade garments in the world. Many exporters in the country have contributed to this status; one of them is the Mondol Group. An integrated setup for knitting and dyeing with 23 factories, housing more than 6,000 sewing machines, the group has a turnover of over US $ 170 million. Abdul Momin Mondol, Managing Director of the company in an exclusive interaction with Apparel Online throws light on the reasons that have contributed to the stupendous growth of the company.

Abdul recalls how buyers were reluctant to visit Bangladesh in the initial years of growth. “Though the new century marked the turning point for our industry, very few manufacturers were working directly with the buyers at that time. The customers would not come to Bangladesh citing poor infrastructure conditions and we had to travel abroad to meet them.

Also, the involvement of buying houses and local traders posed a limitation to the margin we could make. It was post-2005 that the buyers, especially the Europeans, started to work directly with the customers. This brought a big change in terms of marketing the product line. Today 30% of our customers are direct and they have a very big contribution to our growth. We don’t have to go through the hassles of searching new buyers, they make sure that our capacities are full,” says Abdul.

Presently, Mondol Group is primarily working in knits that include basic T-shirts, polo shirts, tank tops, ladies dresses, night gowns, fleece shirts, jogging suits, fleece jackets, rugby shirts and sweaters. The production capacity of the company is a mammoth 7-million pieces per month, effectively supported by the knitting with 120 tonnes capacity per day and dyeing having 70 tonnes capacity a day. The company also has a modern yarn dyeing plant with capacity of 250 tonnes per month. “We work in every category related to circular knits, be it menswear, ladies wear or kidswear. For those buyers, who are dealing in all these categories, we are a one-stop shop solution. This has proven to be an important factor for us getting the kind of business we have got,” reasons Abdul. With a good support system for quality control in place, the company conducts orientation sessions before the production starts for any product and the customer is also a part of these orientations where he trains the staff for the necessary norms.

Even though the company deals mainly in basic knits, the group is aware that the future is value-added garments with multiple style manufacturing. Hence, along with knitting and dyeing, the company also has an in-house printing and embroidery facilities which accounts for the 40% of value-added garments manufactured by the company. “We are proud of our strength in basics, but our company is not designed solely for mass manufacturing, the setup can cater to both basic and value-added garments, together in the same factory,” says Abdul and adds, “In our existing factories, for example, if we have three production floors, one production floor will be totally dedicated by us to the value-added garments. But in the future we might have a complete factory for value-added products as they require a different setup, with more sophisticated machinery and a stronger merchandising team.”

Besides routine embroidery, value-added garments are also manufactured using special fabrics like viscose or modal, which are not very common in Bangladesh.

Mondol Group also owns a small flat knit company, which is producing around 1,00,000 sweaters a month. The company has recently included automatic jacquard machines in the operations. Having established a stronghold in knits, Mondol Group is planning diversification in its product range by establishing a 1,000 machine lingerie factory in Baghebazar, by the name of Mondol Intimate Ltd. “Lingerie is one product that has not grown in Bangladesh, thus leaving a huge gap filled with opportunities. There are many customers sourcing garments from Bangladesh who do have range of lingerie as well, but no options to source them out of Bangladesh. We aim to be an answer for them,” says Abdul.

The company will initially start with basics, like briefs, with an ultimate goal to produce lingerie, bra and fancy underwear. “We are going to establish the factory in such a way that we can even accommodate a branded customer. However, our initial target would be buyers like H&M and C&A as they have range for basic and fancy kind of lingerie. The next stage will be to go for brands like Victoria’s Secret,” explains Abdul. The group is also planning a knit composite unit by the name of Tropical, which will house 1,000 machines. Other than garmenting, Mondol Group has a factory for manufacturing trims, which is sure to see some expansion in the future to cater to the needs of new product lines like lingerie.

Between all this expansion and growth plans, Mondol Group is continuously involved in endeavours to strengthen its current structures. “Our internal systems are always our focus. We are going to introduce ERP systems and we hope that would considerably increase our output. We are recruiting textile background students and therefore the mid-level management status is improving,” informs Abdul. For the last 5 years, Mondol Group has been steadily growing at the rate of 12-15% year-on-year, with construction work already started on 5 different complexes, Mondol Group is moving really fast and hopes to achieve its target of being half a billion dollar company in the next 5 years.

Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

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