Silver Spark Apparel Ethiopia PLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Raymond brand – the leading manufacturer, marketer and retailer of worsted suiting fabrics & ready to wear apparel inaugurated its Greenfield garment manufacturing plant in Ethiopia to gain duty free access to the US and European markets.

The plant set up at Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP) with an investment of Rs. 100 cr and will employ over 2,500 people in the first phase. More people will join later, the company said. This foray is in line with the Group’s ambitions to increase its presence across international markets.

Ethiopia also gives the company lower-cost manpower, highly subsidised power, readymade industrial sheds that considerably reduces capital expenditure along with duty benefits, it said.The capacity expansion will mark Raymond’s entry amongst the top five suit manufacturers in the world, the company added. GautamHariSinghania, Chairman of the group said that it is a strategic decision to set-up a garment manufacturing unit in Ethiopia to mitigate their risk as far as their exports are concerned.

Indian garment exports have suffered in recent months because of a stronger rupee that has made Indian items costlier abroad.The plant will ensure duty-free access in key export markets such as the USA and Europe, the company said.In their endeavour to ensure price competitiveness, Ethiopia makes a compelling business case and enables them to serve their international customers, Singhania added.Though the availability of skilled labour may not match that of India, the company willupskill the local labour using a “highly experienced expatriate team” from India.

Leveraging the skill sets of garment manufacturing facilities on the domestic front, which are acquired over a period of time, this quantum leap into an international location for manufacturing has been triggered by both core competence and business considerations, Singhania said.

Christened as the Silver Spark Apparel Ethiopia PLC, the local unit is amongst a host of other International Investors who have set-up their facilities at the Hawassa Industrial Park in the African nation.This Park would be an international hub of garmenting – with representation of several companies – world over. Silver Spark Apparel Ltd. is one of the largest manufacturers of high end suits, jackets, trousers & shirts, exporting to leading international markets such as USA, EU and Japan.

Silver Spark Apparel Ltd is the only Indian manufacturer with an expertise to craft full canvas suits — Raymond said.The company currently has four facilities in Bangalore. The company said that they continue to stay committed to Make in India and have invested in a green field project.This capacity expansion will mark Raymond’s entry amongst the top 5 leading suit manufacturers in the world.