DBL Group is a diversified conglomerate which has vertically integrated apparel and textile manufacturing facilities, with concerns in Ceramic Tiles, Semiconductor Design (VLSI), Pharmaceuticals, Sewing Thread, Dyed Fiber & Yarn, ICT & Telecommunications etc. DBL Group started its journey in 1991 and till date, it has resulted in a conglomerate of 23 concerns.
DBL Group has a dedicated and skilled workforce of more than 35,000 employees and had an annual turnover of USD 575 Million for the year 2018-19. DBL Group supplies quality apparels to globally renowned retailers and is focused on upholding the reputation of the readymade garments and textiles industry of Bangladesh.
What has been the guiding force behind the success of DBL Group?
DBL Group: DBL Group strongly believes in innovation. We innovate to succeed. We have Research & Development teams for all our business concerns where they work relentlessly for newer innovations.
124 quality control circles of DBL Group consisting of 607 personnel guarantee high standard of productions. They also participate in national annual quality convention (NAQC) and international convention on quality control circles (ICQCC) regularly. And, have won awards in several occasions. Our employee of the month (EOM) award recognizes the efforts of our employees.
We believe in Sustainability. The foundation of DBL’s Sustainability is based on five pillars: People, Process, Product, Community, and Environment; thereby having a holistic approach towards environmental and social impacts. We are not in business for profit only; rather we seek sustainable development of our people, surrounding communities and environment.
Can you please discuss the core values of your company? What is the vision leading DBL Group?
DBL Group: Our values are a priority in all of DBL’s practices. This not only improves business operations but also creates transparent and long-term relationships with our co-workers and stakeholders.
We always uphold our integrity in every action we take. We are passionate to continuously learn, grow and serve. We continuously adapt to change. We care for our customers, associates, stakeholders, workplace safety, community and environment. We strive to excel in every aspect of our business and we envision to sustain and grow as a diversified global conglomerate.
By continuously upholding the vision; we are diversifying. We are entering industries apart from RMG & Textile; such as Ceramic Tiles, Dredging, Pharmaceuticals, ICT & Telecommunication, Semiconductor etc.
As an exemplary market leader in the apparel industry, how has DBL Group differentiated themselves from competitors?
DBL Group: DBL is well-reputed for its diverse set of sustainability activities, working with international development partners such as CARE, DEG, IFC, GIZ, ILO, UNICEF etc. DBL is involved with multiple sustainability initiatives focused on various social and environmental aspects. DBL’s activities are in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and have been recognized internationally by the UN Global Compact and the Business Call to Action (BCtA) of the UN Development Program. DBL is a signatory to the Global Compact and have been publishing sustainability reports since 2014 following the GRI guidelines.
Other than putting importance on Sustainability; for our employees we have different engagement programs, career development programs, Talent Harvesting, FLDP. We have various community development programs as well.
We always embrace the latest technology. We have R&D that consistently innovates newer ways to become better than the previous day.
Considering every aspect of improvements and developments; we have achieved the most prestigious Superbrands award in the year 2018-2019. Superbrands is the world’s largest independent arbiter of branding that pays tribute to the most recognized and valuable brands of a nation.
Sustainability is becoming synonymous with innovation – can you tell us about DBL Group’s take on sustainability measures in their factories? As an industry leader, how is the company ensuring that they uphold and exemplify the best practices?
DBL Group: We consider Sustainability as “the ability to survive and grow without compromising the needs of the future”. DBL’s Sustainability strategy is based on Five Pillars: People, Process, Product, Community and Environment; if any of these pillars are missing, the organization will not survive.
Different initiatives, whether they be with our various knowledge partners or of our own, are taken to address these Five Pillars. The People Pillar focuses on our workers and employees addressing issues like affordable consumer goods, women empowerment, health and hygiene, employee children education and disability recruitment. The Process Pillar addresses the operations relevant to the production processes and include resource management, operation automation and skill enhancement. The Product Pillar refers to innovations to create new products as well as following global standards when using different materials during production. The Community Pillar concentrates on the various development needs of the local community including education, knowledge sharing, health and hygiene and even safety. And the Environment Pillar, as the name suggests, focuses on issues like resource optimization, waste management, reducing effluents, carbon offsetting and renewable energy usage.
We have also been a Participant of the United Nations Global Compact since 2013 and is also a member of the Business Call to Action (BCtA) of the UN Development Program since 2016. We are also a signatory of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
We are communicating all these every year in our Sustainability Reports: which we have been publishing since 2014 following the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
DBL believes in understanding the needs and requirements and act accordingly to fulfill them. DBL’s practices integrate the values of “Learning is growing” and “Sharing is caring”. Through existing and future practices and programs, DBL wishes to learn and adopt globally recognized standards and encourage others to do the same.
In the RMG sector, our greatest strength has been cheap labor. Do you think that this advantage is sustainable in the long run? What should the stakeholders do to protect our position in the global market?
DBL Group: Cheap labor will not be sustainable in the long run. For a sustainable tomorrow; businesses should look beyond their businesses into the social and environmental aspects. Businesses should have plans for sustainability. We should have affiliations with various knowledge partners to learn, exchange and grow. Collaborating between industry and university is fruitful. And from a business perspective; we should look for ways to minimize costs in the value chain as well as other processes in the business that incurs cost. Renewable energy can be one of the strengths in the future. Energy efficient machineries are minimizing costs. Process automation and adapting to latest technology is very important in this era to survive in the business world.
What are the challenges that DBL regularly faces as a pioneer of Bangladesh‘s RMG industry (Spinning, Knitting, Dying, and Washing)? What can the government/authority do to help you overcome them?
DBL Group: Cost of production is a major issue as this has been rising throughout the years while the profit margin has been shrinking. The cost of finance has also gone up along with the wage of workers: Bangladesh no longer can be termed with “cheap labor”. The efficiency of workers is still not in the line with China and Sri Lanka: hence, we are working, and need to work more, for improving the skills of workers.
Price issue is another challenge, as the prices from buyers are decreasing. This means that we would need to shift to higher valued products from the basic products. Since China is changing its focus from the RMG, we need to capture this market segment with these high valued items. This, once again, requires enhancing our workers’ skills. Hence, the need for technical education is a high priority.
From the government, we would like to partner with them in enhancing the skills of our workers. With a vision to establish a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Center in the industry cluster, our Industry-based Training (IBT) Center was initiated in DBL’s spinning factory complex. The IBT Center has already developed training modules and curricula and have been approved by the Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB) for accreditation. The BTEB is a government board which is responsible for regulating, developing and certifying technical education throughout Bangladesh.
Tell us about your future ideas. Do you see a sector where there is the potential for a future investment?
DBL Group: We always look for investment opportunities in industries that has potential. Because, we firmly believe in expansion and the day we stop expanding; we will be going backwards.
Recently we invested in the Pharmaceutical industry with a vision to fulfill the healthcare needs of the country and also to serve the under privileged. We hope to launch DBL Pharmaceuticals Ltd. next year. Earlier we launched DBL Ceramics in 2017 and within a very short span of time we created an impression because of our superior product quality, innovation and design. We have invested in the tech industry also- we established a design center for designing Semiconductors called ‘Neural Semiconductors’ that is contributing to retain the brain drain of our country. In order to fulfill the excavating needs of Bangladesh, now, we are also in dredging.
Photo courtesy: DBL Group