TÜV Rheinland is a leading global independent testing service provider with more than 145 years of experience. The Group’s employees work all around the world, generating annual revenues of almost 2 billion euros. The independent experts stand for the quality and safety of people, technology, and the environment in nearly every sphere of personal activity. TÜV Rheinland tests technical installations, products, and services and supervises projects, processes, and information security for companies. The experts train people in a broad range of fields and industries. This is made possible by the company’s global network of authorized laboratories and testing and training centers. The company has been operating in Bangladesh for last eight years. To know more about the company’s journey and plans for Bangladesh market, Apparel Views Editorial team interviewed Charan Singh, VP and Regional Director, Softlines, IMEA, TÜV Rheinland and Mohammad Syful Islam Khan, MD, TÜV Rheinland – Bangladesh Pvt. Ltd.

Please tell us briefly about TÜV Rheinland & its journey in Bangladesh?
Charan: TÜV Rheinland is a global company. Our head office is in Cologne, Germany and we have more than 20,000 employees worldwide. Our operation is close to 70 countries and more than 500 office locations. Our revenue in 2017 was close to 2 bn euro. When it comes to Bangladesh, we started our operation in 2011; it’s already been eight years since we have been successfully operating in this country.

What are your plans for Bangladesh market?
Charan: For Bangladesh we are growing. As a country, Bangladesh is on the right track. There is significant amount of growth which is happening. Particularly in the field job, garments & there are new sectors which are coming up like leather, footwear, plastics & government is also going to give a push to all these. So for sure, we also have very aggressive plans for Bangladesh. We want to move ahead & race further in the future. We are going to expand in near future as well with respect to our laboratory operations, inspection capabilities, capacities & technical orders.

Where do you see TÜV in next 1year?
Charan: Bangladesh is one of our key countries where our growth plans are very strong and robust. We are continuously growing at the rate of more than 50 per cent every year since the last three years and that is how we are looking at for the next year as well.

How important soft line is for you especially the textile part of it?
Charan: I think if you look at Bangladesh as a country, more than 85 per cent of the exports which are happening, is in the field of garment, which means that garments is the main category for the country, and for us, as well. So, soft line is a major business area for us in Bangladesh. Globally, also as part of our global strategy soft line has a unique place in our strategy and our plans are pretty aggressive with respect to soft line’s growth globally.

Can you tell us about TÜV’s network in Bangladesh?
How many people are currently working with you?
Syful: We have more than 260 people in our team working together in supply & system.
Charan: As Saiful said, we are close to 250 people overall. When it comes to network, we are covering all the major locations here in Bangladesh, with respect to the industry needs. Whichever industries are important for Bangladesh operations, from that perspective they are covering all the locations. It’s not like we are just sitting here in Dhaka, we are there in Narayanganj, Gazipur, Chittagong and our plans are also concerned with strengthening ourselves in Bangladesh in the coming future. We might come up with some specific operation in Chittagong in the near future.

What are the services you are offering to your clients?
Charan: When it comes to this, we are very strong in testing of products, raw material and inspections, where we do various services within the inspection domain as well. We provide technical orders then we have system requirement where we are providing customized complied audit as well. Apart from that, there is one unique service we are specifically focusing on at this moment which is supporting industry on the sustainability aspect. We are very strong in chemical management. We are a member of ZDHC which is Zero Discharge Hazard for harmful Chemicals. And our laboratory here in Dhaka is one, accepted by ZDHC. So we are a supporting industry in terms of saving the environment, in terms of ensuring that harmful chemicals are not being used and we can support industry also for using various other needs which are more compile, and eco-friendly.

What is the main USP of TÜV?
Charan: We are more customer centric. Our idea of doing business is more about having association, having partnership instead of having a transactional relationship. So for us, success is supporting our customer, making them successful and in turn becoming successful.

Globally which market is more important for you?
Charan: I will put it in a different perspective here. For sure there are different markets, if you look at garments, China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam all are leading there. And there are some emerging countries like East Africa, Myanmar who are also doing good. So we look at it from the customers’ perspective because wherever the customer is going to source their product. So we really need to see how we are going to provide services for them. Because, at the end of the day we are a customer service industry and we need to provide service to our customer. So for sure when it comes to Bangladesh, this has a unique case as this is one of the major sourcing locations for buyers worldwide and most of the buyers are coming here. We see significant growth happening here in Bangladesh as well. So this is one of the important countries for us when it comes to our operations.

What are the challenges you are facing in Bangladesh market?
Syful: At present, as usual, the challenge is that the product price is going down for the manufacturers which are impacting us in service prices making it competitive. Also many competitors are coming in this market because Bangladesh is growing, and orders are shifting from China. Bangladesh will be number 1 in the near future in terms of products variety and production. Beside this, other challenges include: Lack of proper infrastructure and good communication system, difficulty in transporting products from Dhaka to port areas and not having deep sea ports. If we have these kinds of facilities, then we could be at par with countries such as Vietnam. I think the government is working on lot of changes. We are observing in constructions. I hope it will change in the next five years and we will overcome these challenges.

Do you see any improvements in terms of compliance?
Syful: After the Rana Plaza incident, The Accord alliance are very active and the entrepreneurs are also very much interested. They are establishing good compliance factories. Most of the factories have been moved from city side to outside in Gazipur, Savar area. Lots of export processing zones. The government is allowing foreigners as investors. It has really changed because big manufacturing plant is coming. And we have lot of example industries because they are opening their laboratory to see other people, how they build this compliance factory so that other entrepreneurs can learn and they can also implement. The customers are also supporting the industry in building compliance factory, in maintaining safety issues and electricity issues. It’s really good. And there are lots of opportunities for the service providers also to provide services in terms of compliance & electricity issue.

How do you see the future of Bangladesh garment industry?
Charan: I don’t see any reason why Bangladesh is not going to be the number one sourcing location in the world in the coming 5-7 years. Because we are already seeing that China market is going down. China intends to move forward in high industry which is more of IOD & server security, electronics all those years. Until they want to come off this apparel industry which is more labour intensive, and are more related to environmental pollution also. The direct benefit which should come to Bangladesh directly because it is the 2nd biggest market in the world. So according to my perspective, I feel that in the coming time Bangladesh will be the no. 1 sourcing location on the sourcing map for garments and there will be other categories like leather & footwear.

What is your massage as a company to our industry?
Charan: I think it’s very important to look at the compliance aspect. We see significant improvements which have already taken place but there is still a long way to go. If we can ensure the efficiency which is there in the industry at this moment, we can see the kind of productivity level we have, the current technological tradition keep on happening in the way it is happening. Only thing is there, which is basically compliance to the requirement which is coming up. If we can do that, then yes there is no reason that we will see Bangladesh as No. 1 for garment sourcing destination.