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Fiji Plays David to China’s Goliath

We talked with Fiji’s former Textiles, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) council president, Mr. Mark Halabe, along with the current TCF council president, Mr. Kalpesh Solanki , about how Fiji is working together to take on the big boys of the manufacturing industry.

Mr. Mark Halabe elaborated at great length on the ‘small volume’ niche that Fiji has in supplying garments to the Australia and New Zealand markets. He went on to demonstrate how his company has successfully re-engineered for shorter runs and more custom orders. He has also constantly strived to improve logistics to deliver the goods in a competitive time frame.

Mr. Solanki echoed Mr. Halabe’s comments and went further to emphasize the entire manufacture base of Fiji needs to optimally gear up and promote itself for overseas niches. With Australia’s minimal wage nearly eighteen times higher then Fiji’s, he feels they could deliver high quality goods into Australia far more competitively then those manufactured locally.

Mr. Solanki then noted that the TCF Council Fiji was recently audited and showed that they have some of the highest scores in worker conditions.

“It’s important to remember that our cost of living is significantly lower then Australia’s, and it’s a great opportunity for the Australian distributors and retailers to take advantage of this”.

Mr. Halabe also elaborated on the EPA (European Partnership Agreement) implications and how they offer access to not just Australia but to a huge number of other international markets and more than hundreds of millions of new end-users. He mentioned about his own company’s shift in local productions that continues to focus on smaller and smaller runs, on maximizing production efficiencies and on increasing its presence in the fashion industry.

All in all, Fiji has uniquely positioned itself in a time where retail stores constantly are looking to carry less and less inventory, while continuing to be a quality provider of cost competitive clothing. For Fiji, when wholesalers and retailers worldwide are seeking cost effective, small order purchases, it’s the perfect storm of economic opportunity for our resilient, innovative and experienced manufacturers.

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Posted on: September 25 at 9:40 am

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