“Business as usual” is a long way away, but Artistic Garment Industries (AGI Denim), the company formerly known as Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries, is putting steps in place to rev up production. Pakistan’s vertical, Karachi-based denim manufacturer is running at 60 percent capacity since restarting production last month, said Hasan Javed, AGI Denim executive director.
“We started with 30 percent and are now running at 60 percent as of the first week of May,” Javed told Rivet. “The plan is to gradually ramp up, and hopefully run at close to full strength by July if the global situation continues to improve by then.”
Pakistan got its first confirmed case of coronavirus toward the end of February, but manufacturing began to slow down in mid-March when the rest of the world began to impose curfews and lock downs, Javed said. AGI Denim’s manufacturing facilities were closed from March 22 to April 21.
“COVID-19 is, of course, a very serious issue and not to be taken lightly, but in developing countries like Pakistan, poverty and hunger can be just as life threatening and therefore, we felt that after several weeks of lockdown, it was a good time to reopen after carefully implementing the mandated government protocols,” he told Rivet.
Facilities and arrangements had to be inspected before a small number of companies were given official permission to run at a limited capacity towards the end of April, he added.
AGI Denim worked closely with the authorities on check lists and inspections to meet their reopening requirements, including implementing temperature checks and thermal scanning upon entering the facility and sanitization booths at AGI’s entry and exit points. The company is also requiring social distancing throughout the facilities, utilizing disinfectant cabins and providing masks and gloves among other PPE items to staff.
Moving forward, AGI’s team will revisit regular trainings and awareness sessions in small groups and via video conferences to maintain safety, and encourage high risk employees to stay home. Advanced coronavirus consultation through telemedicine clines is also available.
“All protocols were met before we resumed production so now we are focusing on the orders we have to ship out in the near future,” Javed said.
AGI Denim is currently producing for Fall 2020 and is making some fabrics for the holiday season, however, production is a long way from what it was prior to the pandemic.
“There was a definite surge in demand for denim from Pakistan over the last year or so,” Javed said. “We were running at 100 percent capacity and were having a record season right before the crisis. Of course, there has been a correction now, and we all need to pause and reflect on the current situation, but we are still optimistic that we will hopefully bounce back by the end of the year.”
Javed foresees an adjustment period, a time when the global denim industry will have to be acclimated to a “new normal” and the challenges that come with it.
“Once the lockdown is officially over, we will still need to make sure the workforce stays disciplined with regards to maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding gatherings as a cautious approach is still needed,” he said. “We will all need to fight together to get past these unprecedented times.”