Tetsuo Kogure, Staff Writer of the Asahi Shimbun, wrote the article, titled 'Bangladeshi manufacturer seeks to shake up industrial structure', which has been given below:
A local manufacturer is challenging giants from Japan and South Korea, hoping to end the Bangladeshi economy’s huge dependence on the sewing industry.
The low prices offered by Walton Hi-Tech Industries Ltd have led to increasing profits and market shares for a wide range of products in the country.
But the company still relies on imported parts for its motorcycle engines, compressors for air conditioners and refrigerators, and liquid crystal display panels for TVs.
“There are very few domestic manufacturers that produce components, and they cannot make parts that satisfy our needs,” said Mahbubul Alam, a Walton director and member of the founding family.
Industry sources said a supporting industry that supplies components will be necessary to help make manufacturing a pillar of the Bangladeshi economy.
In Bangladesh, products from the sewing industry account for $20 billion (2 trillion yen), or 80 percent, of the country’s exports.
Walton, the country’s first manufacturer of motorcycles and home electronic appliances established by local interests, originally started as an importer and seller of home electrical appliances.
It began manufacturing under its own brand in 2006, and expanded the range of its products from home appliances to motorcycles.
It now holds the top share in sales of refrigerators and televisions in Bangladesh, ahead of South Korean manufacturers.
The company is also in fourth place in terms of motorcycle sales, trailing automaking giants like Honda Motor Co.
In Walton’s factory in Gazipur, about a two-hour drive from Dhaka, employees assemble motorcycles on an assembly line. In a different facility, workers are busy producing liquid crystal display TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners.
In 2010, the company started exporting its products to 17 countries, including Myanmar and nations in the Middle East and Africa.
Walton’s total sales in fiscal 2011 reached $300 million, a 40-percent increase from a year earlier.
As a result of its low-cost labor system, Walton’s prices are one-third to one-half of those for similar products made by companies in Japan and South Korea.
Many of Walton’s 10,000 employees are between the ages of 19 and 35. Their starting monthly salary is 5,000 taka (about 6,000 yen or $64.40).
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