German supermarket chain Lidl has plans to up its apparel purchase from Bangladesh by 20 percent because the low-cost nation’s prices still can’t be beat.
Markus Reinken, the company’s buying director, told the Daily Star that Lidl purchased 251 million pieces of apparel worth $700-$800 million from Bangladesh last year, though he didn’t disclose what percentage of the company’s total buy comes from the country.
“Bangladesh is an important source for apparel items for Lidl and we purchase a substantial volume from here,” Reinken said. “We will increase our purchase of garments from Bangladesh in the near future, as other sourcing countries have become expensive due to higher costs of production and a shortage of workers there.”
Talk of sourcing in Bangladesh hardly comes without a conversation about compliance, but Lidl knows Bangladesh isn’t the only country struggling to keep compliant.
In doing its part to buy from better, more compliant factories, Lidl said it tries to buy from facilities that invest in green technologies.
Factories like Narayanganj-based Plummy Fashions Ltd are going green and getting the retailer’s business. The two-story, 1200-staff manufacturer is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and has the capacity to store as much 159,000 gallons of rainwater for reuse.
“We support factories like Plummy,” Reinkein, who recently visited the facility, said. “This could be the future. We need to go in the direction that Plummy has gone.”
Lidl will have its own water-saving technology offering as of next month for 30 factories it gets its garments from, and Reinken said Lidl will pay higher prices for those garments if the factories invest in the technology. The company hopes to roll out the water-saving tech to other factories in the coming years.
Adding the technology will aid Lidl in its goal of reducing water use by 50 percent. As of now in Bangladesh, it takes nearly 4 gallons of water to make a T-shirt and the company wants to cut that figure to less than two.
“We have long term plans for Bangladesh, as the country is improving in regards to compliance and diversification of fashion and technology uses in garment production,” Reinken said.