Fiji successful as a viable manufacturing option for apparel
The garment industry was a product of the 1987 coup. After establishing a thriving export business to Fiji from our NZ based facility, Image Label Systems set up our own Fiji operation in 1996.
The industry in Fiji has survived and grown through times of both challenge and prosperity, showing considerable reslilience as it has faced both fierce international competition and local political instability.
The garment industry plays a significant part in the countries GPD, vying with sugar and tourism as the top exporter each year.
Part of Fiji’s garment resilience has been it’s ability to develop strategic responses to international trends. The most recent trend flows most definitely in Fiji’s favour and directly affects the markets they cater to – which is ‘near sourcing.’
If you can’t do it at home, look to your closest neighbours for help.
Near-sourcing sees first world countries like Australia and New Zealand, who find local manufacture uncompetitive because of high local labour costs, outsourcing to local or geographically near producers, like Fiji.
Near sourcing is also attractive where companies need something they can’t necessarily get out of the larger global sourcing locations, for example, a low volume range with fast turn-around. If you try to source this requirement from, for example, China you are likely to be told, “You have to buy this many, and you have to by this many per SKU or size and style and your turnaround is X”.
This becomes very expensive for a new designer or somebody just starting off in the industry.
Having a fast turn-around is important, because the slower your turn-around, the more stock you carry and therefore the more discounting you will likely face at the end of the season.
What Fiji offers, is a flexible and local alternative to China and other volume sources.
Fiji offers a ‘near source’, cost effective alternative to Australia and New Zealand production. Fiji will also manufacture any number of items per SKU right down to one unit with fast turn-around.
Volume and turn-around is where Fiji has been able to secure a niche market with a particular focus on product groups like sportswear (which in the broader definition includes things like rugby jerseys) and work wear (overalls, Hi-Vis apparel etc).
When it comes to sportswear, sales and demand stem from a range with a large number of sizes, but not necessarily large numbers per size; resellers don’t want to carry huge amounts of stock. They want to be able to order on a short lead time.[/vc_column_text]
Do it in Fiji like Kookai do
Kookai is an excellent example of a brand that has successfuly implemented the ‘near sourcing’ strategy.
What many people may not know is that Kookai manufacture a significant amount of the garments retailed in Australia and New Zealand in their own facilities in Fiji.
This vertical integration enables Kookai to work on a supply cycle that is one of the shortest in the industry.
The secret to their success is that they are able to make a very small number of garments per SKU and keep turning them over. The result is lower stock redundancy and discounting and faster turnover of inventory in store.
And as we’ve mentioned this is the way the apparel industry in Fiji operates. They successfully deliver to a niche sector of the market, to great success.
Kookai’s model illustrates how well the industry in Fiji is able to achieve success within a niche market segment, and why Fiji is now becoming a place of interest for other fashion brands.
The process, flexibility and fast turn-around make it a very attractive option and this is further enhanced by Fiji’s inate advantages, including language and time zone commonality.
Outside of the fashion sector, sportswear production is also growing in Fiji, including vertically integrated operations producing player and supporter merchandise for a range of sporting codes in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
These operations are able to offer production of one-off or low volume per unit. If somebody comes along and wants an XXXXXXL in a particular Rugby League shirt for example, this can be accommodated, something that is unlikely to be available anywhere else in the world as far as we know.
Similarities and proximity account for a lot
Fiji benefits from being in a similar time zone to both New Zealand and Australia.
The currency also works in Australia and New Zealand’s favour and overall it’s much easier doing business in Fiji than it is with other Asian based manufacturers. Fiji’s business and legal cultures are familiar for Australasian brands.
It’s never too late to get on board!
Growing the fashion sector of the industry is an important step in the apparel industry’s evolution.
People are often surprised when we tell them that the Kookai garments are made in Fiji. This is something we think needs to change because quite simply, a lot of designers could grow their business a lot quicker if they manufactured in Fiji.
There has been an understandable focus on SE Asia for sourcing, but knowing the Fiji industry as we do gives us confidence that many designers would benefit greatly from a switch to sourcing from Fiji.
A growing example – ongoing investment
Danam is one of the largest garment manufacturers in Fiji, and sustained growth has resulted in the construction of a new custom designed facility in Lautoka. In our recent trip to Fiji we visited Danam’s new facility to see how assimilation was progressing of their previous several locations into the new facility.
Danam’s new facility is an excellent example of local investment in securing the long term future of Fiji’s garment industry and providing security of supply to its export customers.
The pictures show a photo of Image Label Systems CEO David Marshall (right) with Ranjit Lal of Danam in 2014, during construction and on our recent visit.
To get a better understanding of what we can do to help you in your garment development plans, give our team a call.
With a pool of talented, international staff, you can be assured that we will get both the ideas and relevant information to help you get the most out of your production process.