“Cheap labor has always been the advantage of Asian garments”


Italian clothing brand Alcott’s owner Mr. Salvatore Colella talks about their business, reasons behind doing business with Asian garments and how it affects the bringing a betterment in the relation between countries.

Alcott was born in 1988 from a great idea: to offer a product of trend and quality, at an economic price, so that the fashion was accessible to all. The ambitious business project collected in the years a great success, placing Alcott among the first Italian brand in the fast fashion retail sector. With the Alcott and Alcott Los Angeles brands, the company is present today with more than 150 outlets worldwide.

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What are the main reasons for choosing Asia for manufacturing garments? The current global apparel market is valued over $3000 billion, which is about 2% of world’s GDP. There are over 25 million people involved directly or indirectly with apparel manufacturing and over 60% are from Asia. The garment manufacturing in a collective way started in Asia in about 1950 in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong. American companies were producing in there in selling in USA. Since then the industry spread in all over Asia for good number of workplace, cheap and qualified work force, quality products, mass production capacity and national focus.

Is that why you started doing business with Asian manufacturers? “Of course. To fulfill our production capacity with the best possible price and quality we chose Asia as our no.1 manufacturing continent.”

What is the current production and economic status of Alcott? Alcott currently produce their 70% of the garments in Bangladesh and the rest 30% is spread amongst China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea and Turkey including some Italy also. And for the record in 2015-16 the company’s turnover was $250 million.

What kind of problems are you facing nowadays? Our company sometimes face the transit time and shipping problems. As our main production country is Bangladesh, it takes about 30-35 days to reach the garments to reach Italy. We face port conjestion 3-4 times every year in Bangladesh. And sometimes we face problems for strikes when the production factory work but outside movement is not possible for the shipping.

Do you think it is strengthening the relation between countries? “You see, Alcott is now importing about $100 million from Bangladesh and other Asian countries. As we are a growing company and our focus on importing garments from Bangladesh is very promising. So, yes. I think the relation between the countries is strengthening through economic growth.

How do you feel about the workers in Bangladesh and what type of relation do you have with them? And what differences do you spot between the employees of Italy and Bangladesh? There is a significant difference between the employees in Italy and Bangladesh. In our company, all employees are under Italian and EU regulations. On the hand in Bangladesh the employees are working Bangladeshi and ILO regulations. We can not actually compare this two stages of people. Italy is a developed country and Bangladesh is one the fastest growing countries.

So do you like doing business with Bangladesh? “Absolutely. We are very happy doing business in Bangladesh. Actually the production percentage of our company shows it all whether we like doing business with Bangladesh or not.”

Has there been any change in your market? Since the starting of our company, we were importing mainly from China. But over the past few years Chinese garments industry and fashion moved too high and became too expensive. So we had to go to Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan etc. In coming future there will be no changing unless we face a serious problem in Bangladesh.

Is the company’s purpose connected to you own? “Yes. 100% percent. But if you see broadly, our business ultimately helps our country’s economic growth.” Our company creates work opportunity not only in Italy but also in Bangladesh. Actually more Bangladeshi workers are earning their livelihood than our company’s employees. “Look, while focusing at our own profit, we kind of help balancing economic status is both countries.”

 

INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.

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