The growing global demand for fashionable denim wear encouraged both local and foreign entrepreneurs to make fresh investment in Bangladesh, participants and organisers of Bangladesh Denim Expo have said. Many of the 30 local denim mills are going for expansion while a couple more will come into operation with fresh investment within next two or three years, they said. Some foreign companies are opening offices or setting up factories in Bangladesh, they added. The seventh edition of the two-day Bangladesh Denim Expo was held in the city recently with the theme ‘transparency’ to highlight the need for transparency in the entire denim supply chain. A total of 65 exhibitors from 12 countries participated in the show while more than 12 thousand visitors from across the world registered online to attend the two-day expo, organisers said. Talking to the FE on the sidelines of the expo, Md Khalid Mosharof, assistant general manager at Dekko Group, said the group invested Tk 15 million in setting up a new factory of 44 lines at Ashulia that would go for denim item production in June next. The main reason is to tap the growing global demand, he said. Echoing him, Syeed Ahmed Chowdhury, general manager operation at Square Denim, said the company expanded its denim fabric production capacity to 3.0 million yards from the existing 1.5 million yards per month mainly to meet the demand. He, however, opined that the expansion is taking place more in garment segments than in fabric production. There is no alternative to expansion to sustain the existing business and achieve the $50 billion garment export earnings target by 2021, Sharif Zahir, managing director of Ananta Group, said stressing the need for positive branding of the sector. Meanwhile, Landes, a German denim accessories maker, started production in its new factory at Savar from this month. It invested US $0.5 million. “We opened the factory in Bangladesh as we think this is the hub for denim business and there is a lot of business prospects here,” Manfred Slowik, chief operating officer of Landes, told the FE at his stall at the expo. “By the end of next year the total workforce in our new plant will be 120 people as we are recruiting new people from existing 30,” Mr Slowik said. Landes has a target to produce 500 million pieces of leather patches, used in denim trousers as accessories, in a year at its Savar plant from where such accessories will be supplied to the whole Asian region. Many big brands like H&M, VF and Walmart are their customers, he said. Nezahat Boni, senior account manager of Orta, a Turkish denim maker, said her company supplies 3.0 million metres of denim fabrics in Bangladesh in a year against only 800 meters in 2011. “We opened an office in Bangladesh in 2011 as we cannot ignore the importance of this country as a denim hub,” she said. Prosperity Textile, a Chinese company, opened its office in Dhaka last year, said Md Mujibul Hoque, the company’s Bangladesh Sales Director. The company has targeted sale of 100 million yards a year across the globe while it also targets 30-40 per cent of their sales in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is now the top denim products supplier to the European Union overtaking China, and third largest to the US after China and Mexico, industry people said. Bangladesh supplies denim products to major global buyers and retailers including levi’s, G-Star Raw, H&M, Tesco, Wrangler, Hugo Boss, Walmart and Gap.