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200,000 pairs of shoes manufactured in Bhairab daily

bluesky

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200,000 pairs of shoes manufactured in Bhairab daily
Arifur Rahman
back from Bhairab, Kishoreganj
Published: 26 Oct 2021, 19:49
200,000 pairs of shoes manufactured in Bhairab daily

Prothom Alo illustration

Local resident Babul Mollah has seen the transformation of the footwear industry in Bhairab of Kishoreganj from very close. He is also the owner of Nexus Footwear Limited.

He said the Stakmukhi Beel in the municipality’s Kamalpur area was under water two years ago. Now there are lines of footwear factories. Previously, shoes were made by hand. Now factory owners tend to use modern machinery to manufacture footwear. And to his surprise, Babul Mollah saw footwear being exported from Bhairab to Japan for the first time amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The Foot and Feet Leather Limited started exporting shoes for the first time two months ago. The 100pc export-oriented factory is located in Kalikaprashad union, 10 kilometres away from Durjoy intersection of Bhairab on way to Kishoreganj. After visiting the area, it was learned, construction of the factory began on a 66-decimal plot of land just before the pandemic. Through work remained halted for a while, the factory was inaugurated in February this year.

According to sources at the Foot and Feet, to date the company has exported 3,000 pairs of shoes to Japan so far. The price of a pair of shoes varies from $10 to $70 based on quality. Currently, there are 60 workers at the factory and 100-150 pairs of shoes are manufactured daily. On top of that, work environment of the factory is very good.



Khalilur Rahman, managing director of Foot and Feet Limited, told Prothom Alo, “We are the first to start exporting footwear from Bhairab. Now various European countries are contacting us to import our footwears. We expect our export would increase gradually.”

The journey of the footwear industry began in Bhairab in 1989. And it is the largest footwear manufacturing hub in the country. The first factory was set up in Bhairab Upazila Parishad area. Then more factories opened in adjacent area stretching to 10 kilometres away. Factories have also been set up in the neighbouring Bajitpur and Kuliachar upazilas.

Sources said expansion of footwear industry did not even stop during the pandemic. The Moonstar Pew Footwear Limited, a joint venture of seven owners, was set up by earth filling in Satmukhi Beel area of the municipality’s Kamalpur area. Two hundred workers got jobs at the factory.

Visiting the area recently, it was seen construction of several other factories progressing. On the one hand, earth filling is on in the beel area, and on the other hand, construction material including bricks, sand, cement and rods are brought together. Take everything together, construction of new factories is underway in large scale. Brick roads has also been turned into concreate ones in Kamalpur area during the pandemic.

A vibrant economy was seen in Bhairab centering the footwear industry. Banking and financing services are expanding. New hotels and restaurants are opening. Price of land is shooting up. A decimal of land was Tk 1 million (10 lakh) a year ago, it has now climbed to Tk 4 million (40 lakh). Local residents are increasingly building new houses and renting those to others. Besides, two leisure centres have been set up and large numbers of people spend their free time there from in the evenings.

There are at least 300 shops of various footwear equipment including shoeboxes in Bhairab area in addition to the shoe design factories. The number of wholesale footwear shops is also increasing day by day.

According to factory owners, wholesalers and locals, such transformation of the footwear industry in Bhairab has been possible at the initiative of the locals. No assistance came from the government in the expansion of the footwear industry. Even entrepreneurs of the footwear industry in Bhairab did not receive loan from the government’s pandemic-time stimulus. Several entrepreneurs went to banks for loan, only to return empty handed.

Factory owners said the rise in the prices of raw materials is the biggest problem in footwear industry. Raw materials are imported from various countries including China and India with up to 93 per cent tariff on import.

Entrepreneurs said a decreased tariff on import of raw materials and an increased supplementary duty on import of footwear are necessary to expand the local footwear industry. Entrepreneurs have long been making such demand to the government but their demand has not been met.

Local trader Nadiruzzaman Sohel said Bangladesh cannot compete with China and India due to a high import tariff on raw materials of footwear. Import of raw materials with a high tariff increases footwear production cost and prices. So, customers tend to buy foreign footwear instead of locally made ones. It is necessary for the footwear industry to impose more supplementary duty on import of footwear and less tariff on import of raw materials, he added.

The industries ministry’s SME Foundation declared the footwear industry of Bhairab as a cluster about a decade ago. The SME Foundation also identified a set of setbacks and placed recommendations on the footwear industry in Bhairab to the government, but not a single one of it has been implemented as yet.

Establishment of a footwear industrial park was proposed in Satmukhi Beel of the Bhairab municipality town eight years ago. No initiative has been taken as yet. The proposal on organising an annual footwear festival in Bhairab have not been implemented too.

The SME Foundation proposed easy loans for entrepreneurs, developing a website for Bhairab Footwear Factory Owners Cooperative Association to display all footwear products and provide necessary information for free, and setting up a common facility centre (CFC) with state-of-art machine. Not a single proposal was implemented.

President of Bhairab Footwear Factory Owners Association Al Amin Mia told Prothom Alo the footwear industry took a heavy toll because of the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone including factory owners, wholesalers and equipment sellers incurred loss. No one received loan from the government’s stimulus. And banks impose such terms giving no opportunity to avail a loan. Many traders of the footwear industry are going bankrupt due to lack of capital and loan with low interest must be arranged to save them, he added.

To date, no survey has been carried out on the number of factories and workers in Bhairab area. There is no account on the market value of the products manufactured in the Bhairab factories as well as the annual turnover of those factories. Traders have no idea on the use of computer for business management.

According to the SME Foundation, a severe lack of skilled manpower including adequate technicians and designers is the biggest challenge for the footwear industry in Bhairab.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Masudur Rahman, chairman of SME Foundation, said fund sfrom the government’s stimulus is not as much as the number of entrepreneurs in the small and medium industry. So, it was not possible to lend to everyone. More funds are necessary, if they are to give loan with low intertest to the huge number of small and medium entrepreneurs across the country.

He said the SME Foundation is giving hands-on training to the entrepreneurs of the footwear industry in Bhairab. Previously, those entrepreneurs manufactured a single product. Now they manufacture a variety.
*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna
 

Bilal9

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These are not export oriented footwear factories. They are locally made shoes usually for local consumption.

Export oriented shoe factories are in the SEZ's typically and have a totally different (and better quality-oriented) process to make world class footwear.

I feel like the govt. should control the quality of exported shoes tightly. One bad reputation made in exporting shoes to Japan will cause years of bans on orders from that country. Shoes (especially Tennis and Jogging shoes) are actually much more critical to make compared to apparel.

The glue needed for attaching the sole to the foot covering part (upper) needs to be super strong and basically waterproof once dry.
 

bluesky

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These are not export oriented footwear factories. They are locally made shoes usually for local consumption.

Export oriented shoe factories are in the SEZ's typically and have a totally different (and better quality-oriented) process to make world class footwear.

I feel like the govt. should control the quality of exported shoes tightly. One bad reputation made in exporting shoes to Japan will cause years of bans on orders from that country. Shoes (especially Tennis and Jogging shoes) are actually much more critical to make compared to apparel.

The glue needed for attaching the sole to the foot covering part (upper) needs to be super strong and basically waterproof once dry.
The news report says some factories are exporting their goods. But I am surprised the prices they cited. From $10 to $70 which I do not believe.

But, you may be right about the quality needed for exporting. It is not an arbitrary decision by a maker to export his shoes. It is the other way. The importer gives the design/ sample and the manufacturer follows the sample.

In any case, the important point is a few thousand people are being employed in the shoe factories and if the makers can produce good quality shoes as per requirement set by the importer, then someday, some of them may be able to export.

Today, our need is to produce more industrial goods and employ more people. Export may be secondary.

By the way, I found BD hide shoes are way expensive. Can you tell me about the sole at the bottom? is it still cowhide, which slips during rain, or is made of artificial rubber with an anti-slip engraving? Hide soles are difficult to engrave.
 

Bilal9

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The news report says some factories are exporting their goods. But I am surprised the prices they cited. From $10 to $70 which I do not believe.

But, you may be right about the quality needed for exporting. It is not an arbitrary decision by a maker to export his shoes. It is the other way. The importer gives the design/ sample and the manufacturer follows the sample.

In any case, the important point is a few thousand people are being employed in the shoe factories and if the makers can produce good quality shoes as per requirement set by the importer, then someday, some of them may be able to export.

Today, our need is to produce more industrial goods and employ more people. Export may be secondary.

By the way, I found BD hide shoes are way expensive. Can you tell me about the sole at the bottom? is it still cowhide, which slips during rain, or is made of artificial rubber with an anti-slip engraving? Hide soles are difficult to engrave.
@bluesky bhai, the sole at the bottom is still cowhide for better quality leather shoes, but harder cowhide, they can slip during rain when new but they usually wear down to a non-slip finish quickly.

Only the heel covering is made of artificial rubber usually and then only a slim layer.

The anti-slip engraving can be included in Hide soles using heated implements and are not difficult to engrave.

But like I said, if you use hide soles for a week, they will get scuffed and will not slip anymore.
 

bluesky

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But like I said, if you use hide soles for a week, they will get scuffed and will not slip anymore.
Yes, this is true when you use the shoes in the streets of golden BD. But, not in Tokyo or other developed countries.

Our makers should select the rubber engraving method. Even then the sole should have the complexion of leather.
 

Bilal9

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Yes, this is true when you use the shoes in the streets of golden BD. But, not in Tokyo or other developed countries.

Our makers should select the rubber engraving method. Even then the sole should have the complexion of leather.
@bluesky bhai, the new trend in even dress shoes nowadays is lightweight shoes, almost featherweight.

Most dress shoes I see for sale nowadays have very lightweight Ethyl Vinyl Acetate or soft rubber (TPR) soles. The uppers can be shiny leather still. Anyways, choose soles with EVA foam in them, you will be fine.
 

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