In recent years, due to difficulties and challenges such as market downturn and increase of trade frictions resulted by the international financial crisis, with continued cost rise of the labor, raw materials and energy, the foreign-trade clothing enterprises in China generally meet a high development pressure and some even become unsustainable.
However, some foreign-trade clothing enterprises stick to innovation in a pioneering spirit, constantly develop international market, create famous brands and achieve significant economic benefits. Jiangsu Dongdu Textile Group is such an innovative enterprise.
The Spring Festival holiday passed just now but workers in the workshop of Dongdu Textile Group have worked in full swing for a long time.
"At the first working day after the Spring Festival, our operating rate reached 87 percent and now all workers have come back. We have completed recruit in advance. The orders have been arranged to the third quarter and we are starting two more production lines", said by Xu Weimin, Chairman of Dongdu Group, in workshop of Dongdu clothing production base at Zhangjiagang, while examining the new production line for which part of machines have just been installed.
From a textile factory with sales volume no more than RMB50 million yuan at the beginning of restructuring in 1999, to a leading textile enterprise with foreign and domestic sales volume of RMB5 billion yuan in the last year, Dongdu Group does not only keep growing quickly, but also becomes a famous foreign-trade enterprise in the international market.
"Clothing manufacturing industry is not a sunset industry and a lot of foreign-trade clothing enterprises do a good job. We make a few achievements mainly because we stick to equipment transformation and market-oriented innovation for a long time", said by Xu Weimin in a humble voice, who has been involved in this industry for 20 years.
Leading the market with innovative technologies
In the product exhibition room of Dongdu Group, rows of colorful fabrics are much surprising. "All of these are the latest products developed on our own." Xu Weimin says, "if you wear clothes made of this exothermic composite fabric, your sensory temperature will rise by 2 to 3C; that antibacterial fabric will not be smelly even not washed for several days; the special fabric with functions of anti-ultraviolet radiation, anti-static electricity, sweat absorbing and quick drying, one-way moisture transferring is mainly used to manufacture outdoor sport clothes, which are much popular in the international market...
Dongdu Group made a great deal of investment these years to develop these new products. At the beginning, in order to upgrade equipments, Dongdu Group almost stopped investing in all other aspects and concentrates their financial resources on upgrading. In 2002, all textile equipments of Dongdu Group were upgraded to the leading level both at home and abroad. With foreign enterprises entering into Chinese market, the Group was aware of the importance of core technologies. From 2005, Dongdu Group established R&D centers jointly with Tianjin Institute of Textile Materials and Jiangnan University one after another and spent over RMB40 million yuan every year to develop a series of new antibacterial, bamboo-fiber, anti-ultraviolet fabrics. By 2011, the Group has obtained 4 patents of invention, 459 design patents and "Award for Innovation in Textile Technologies" granted by China Textile Engineering Society for three times.
"We take the lead in applying vegetable dye in textile fabric and presently only we are capable of mass-producing this product. With promotion of batches of environmental-protection and healthy fabrics, our enterprise obtains the right of speaking and pricing in international trade gradually, so we can easily optimize our market and select high quality customers." Xu Weimin says proudly that there are no bad debt and accounts receivable because the Group takes only the first-hand orders and refuse to cooperate with non-international-leading brands.
Direct dealing with the international trade market does not only improve the margin of Dongdu Group, but also broaden their international vision and further encourage them to target higher objectives to develop self-owned brands. The domestic sales amount of IT'S BETTER, an ecological children's clothing brand developed by Dongdu Group, keeps a double-digit growth in recent years.
Expanding the reaching with international vision
Xu Weimin, who just returned from study in Cambodia in the morning, tells the reporter that this travel further strengthened the idea to establish a Dongdu Industrial Park in Cambodia. He says, "We are expanding the producing scale overseas gradually so as to internationalize the production."
As a matter of fact, as early as in 2002, Dongdu Group made a strategic decision in which it planned to transfer all foreign-trade business to Hong Kong and Singapore and set up its own global business order center for international trade in the form of joint venture with, cooperation with and acquisition of overseas foreign trade enterprises.
Dongdu Group established a factory in Malaysia in 2003, which opened the curtain of transferring of manufacturing base; it spent RMB150 million yuan building a new clothing manufacturing base in Nantong in 2004; it set up another overseas manufacturing base in the form of joint stock and cooperation in Cambodia in 2005 with nearly 10,000 employees currently; it established new manufacturing bases in middle and north Jiangsu Province in 2010.
"It is an important route of transformation and upgrading for over 10 years for the Group to optimize resource allocation with international vision and full use of domestic and international markets." Xu Weimin says that the Group has further strengthened and improved "forward transfer of trade" and "production transfer", keeps expanding cooperation with Australia and the US to develop new trade and cooperation relations this year. "The industrial transfer project from Australia has been settled in Dongdu Group with all equipments available and we are negotiating for the product R&D department. We are following the Cambodian project and the Phase II factory will start building soon."
Dongdu Group has formed an international layout with headquarters, R&D and brand departments and high-tech fabric manufacturing in Zhangjiagang, foreign trade center in Singapore, manufacturing bases distributed at home and abroad and sales market in the US, EU and Japan.
"Innovation does not mean only technical improvement, also includes strategic deployment. Facing with new situations, certainly it will not be promising if a foreign-trade enterprise is operated in a conventional mode." Xu Weimin views that "Although the sales amount of the Group has reached nearly RMB5 billion yuan, we just kick out on our development road. We should have an international vision and the spirit of 'being the first in all aspects', and strive for being the leading role in the whole industry."