26th May 2010, www.dailynews.lk
A three member team from Bhs UK visited Sri Lanka from May 22 to 25 to explore the possibility of expanding their sourcing from the country. The members of the team were Divisional Buying Director Cassie Moore, Senior Buyer Julian Miller and Senior Quality Advisor Nick Duke.
Bhs, is a British department store chain with 186 branches located in high street locations primarily selling clothing was first launched in the UK in the early 1900's. It was bought by Sir Phillip Green the owner of the Arcadia Group in the year 2000 for Sterling Pounds 200 million. The Arcadia Group had recorded a sales value of over Sterling Pounds 3,000 million during the last fiscal year.
The EDB organized a meeting between the Bhs team, the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) and the leading apparel associations at the commencement of the program. This was the first official meeting of Janaka Ratnayake the newly appointed Chairman of the EDB. Welcoming the BHS team Ratnayake thanked them for including Sri Lanka in their South Asian itinerary. He stressed that since this is a vital industry for the economy of Sri Lanka accounting for nearly 44 percent of the export revenue, the Government would extend its fullest support to Bhs to increase their sourcing from Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman and Favourite Group Managing Director Kumar Mirchandani, making a presentation on behalf of the industry to the Bhs team said that Sri Lanka has over the past three decades developed into a sophisticated industry from mere tailors to total solution specialists. The industry reality of no sweatshop conditions, no child labour, maintaining international health and safety standards, governed hours of work, community outreach programs were highlighted by Mirchandan.
Garments without Guilt - making the 'Made in Sri Lanka' label synonymous with ethical and sustainable apparel manufacturing was also explained.
It was mentioned that a Sri Lankan company was the first in the world to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum award - a benchmark for design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
JAAF Secretary General Rohan Masakorale said that Sri Lanka has the fastest shipping connections to U.K, which is 15 days transit at the moment, where weekly services are offered with multiple carriers and the service is direct without any transshipment. No other country in Asia can match this service and it would be an added advantage to the buyers to place orders in Sri Lanka as the speed of the supply chain reliability is going to be critical and lead times and production cycles would play a key role in future decision making process for buyers.
Briefing the gathering, Cassie Moore said that Bhs was part of the Arcadia Group UK which owns and operates nearly 3000 Stores in the UK and worldwide. Their brands are Bhs, Top Shop, Dorthy Perkins, Wallis, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Top man and Burtons. She said Bhs buys women's and men's clothing, children's wear, school wear lingerie, nightwear, underwear, house wear and footwear. She further said that Bhs has been buying school wear from Sri Lanka for the last 18 years.
The purpose of this visit was to review the opportunities of developing other products through Sri Lanka. Moore made use of this occasion to extend their thanks to their existing suppliers and to the new vendors scheduled to meet in Sri Lanka.
She also thanked the EDB and the Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK for having assisted them greatly in recognizing the opportunities for manufacturing development in Sri Lanka.
The Bhs team visited around 10 factories during their three day tour in Sri Lanka including small, medium and large scale units meeting their basic criterion of being Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) certified.