Asad Ahmed, Founder & Owner, Ambition Apparel.
By now, you must be aware that the economic crisis is a global issue. In an attempt to find out how the economic meltdown truly affects companies and garment workers in the denim industry worldwide, I decided to seek out companies who would be willing to share some insights. Let’s just say, the more I learned, the scarier it got. In the end, I had a better appreciation of the jeans that I buy and wear. It’s good to be reminded of the fine craftsmanship and care that people take — sometimes a half way around the world — just to make your jeans, even though their standard of living isn’t the same as yours.
A few months back, I got in contact with Asad Ahmed, the Founder and Owner of Ambition Apparel, based in Lahore, Pakistan. From our October-November correspondence, his company was already making strategic changes to buckle down during the worldwide economic slump.
“The biggest fear that I have right now is the upcoming Christmas sales world over where retailers make 50 percent of their yearly sales. If the sales are not as expected especially in apparels, then they will be stuck with unsold inventories which will take the store groups at least two to three months to clear up. That means we might miss next season for which buyers start their placements in the month of January. If there is a serious drop of orders, then factories all over the world will get affected seriously, as each setup have huge monthly overheads.”
How much do garment workers make in Pakistan?
“The average minimum salary for a worker in Pakistan is about USD $80.00 per month. We run two shifts in one day, 8 hours each; the machine operators work on daily wages or on contracts. The more they produce the more money they make. When there is no work at factory, they just sit idle and get no money. It will be devastating for these people if factories shut down due to the fall in global demand. These people will become unemployed, and that will be very dangerous as their livelihood depends on this work.”
“Our entire sales are in European markets.” Says Ahmed. “With global meltdown in full swing and its effects [expected] to reach us all in the second quarter or earlier next year, this is going to hurt us all in one way or other. Companies all over the globe including ours are downsizing. About 15 percent of our company’s strength has been laid off so far.”
What is your forecast of people’s spending habits for 2009?
“In the next two to three years, we will witness a major drop in the sales of blue jeans. Just think about it: you have $100 to spare for shopping. You need to buy clothes tops and bottoms. Would you go and spend another 20 bucks on a pair of jeans or would you rather buy casual slacks in new material, or just upgrade your tops and drop the idea of buying another pair of jeans; since, you have half a dozen pairs of jeans in your closet that can last you few more years anyways? Going forward, our priorities will change, our preferences will change and our spending habits will change.”
Ambition Apparel Stats
- Founder and Owners: Asad Ahmed and Imran Amjad
- Founded in 1999
- Employees: 350 people
- Producers for major department stores in Europe, such as:
– Germany: Karstadt, Quelle, and Neckermann;
– Italy: Gruppo Coin;
– UK: Burtons, Primark, and Peacock; and,
– Switzerland: Charles Voegelle.
For more information, go to Ambition Apparel.
— Kathy Ng Hassan