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Hela Clothing strikes intimates joint venture in Ethiopia

Jan 05, 2021
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The more than 100,000 sq ft plant will represent Hela’s first foray into bra manufacturing

The more than 100,000 sq ft plant will represent Hela’s first foray into bra manufacturing

Sri Lanka-based global apparel manufacturer Hela Clothing has taken a 50% stake in Indonesia’s Submiri Intimates Apparel Plc in a move that sees the creation of a new joint venture project to produce intimate products at Ethiopia’s Hawassa Industrial Park.

Hela acquired the stake from Sumber Bintang Rejeki. The joint operation, which at full scale will employ over 3,000 people in Hawassa Ethiopia, will increase its capacity to produce close to 1m pieces a month from 250,000 units currently. This will make it one of the largest bra manufacturing facilities in the world with duty-free access to the US, Canada, EU, and most parts of developed Asia, including China. The equal partnership joint venture will result in the formation of a new company, Sumbiri Hela Intimates Plc.

Marinee Yuprapan, president director of Sumber Bintang Rejeki, said the move will mark a new chapter for business in the region.

“Hela’s expertise in manufacturing in Africa coupled with our knowledge and expertise of the category form the foundation of a strong collaboration that will be mutually beneficial at a time when the world is on the cusp of great change.

“The current upheaval in the industry means that brands are looking for agile suppliers that can meet their expectations in terms of quality, pricing, speed and reliability. We believe that we can exceed these requirements with this latest venture and make it the basis for long term growth.”

The more than 100,000 sq ft plant will represent Hela’s first foray into bra manufacturing and the venture has already lined up PVH-owned Calvin Klein and Warners, as well as Berkshire Hathaway-owned Vanity Fair as its anchor customers.

“This new plant will represent growth opportunities for us at a time when global brands are re-evaluating their supply chains and looking to mitigate future risk through geographical diversification,” said Shameen Peiris, CEO of Hela Clothing, intimates division. 

“For Hela this partnership represents the next step in our journey. We believe collaboration can be an important component of creating value for our customers and be a major driver of innovation. Hence this venture will give us the opportunity to explore more product offerings and innovative solutions to help better serve our customers.”

Sumber Bintang Rejeki was established in Indonesia in 1985 by founder Michael Lee and forms part of the Sumbiri Group of companies, including Winnersumbiri, a warp and circular knit factory located in Indonesia.

Hela Clothing, meanwhile, is a US$200m company that provides sustainability-focused apparel supply chain solutions. It works closely with global brands, from design to delivery, in the intimate, sleepwear, and children’s product ranges and operates nine factories across three countries and a workforce of over 15,000.

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