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Garment sellers discover desert provides wealth

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-26 06:56

Garment sellers discover desert provides wealth

Workers make clothes at Yinchuan Wantini Clothing Co Ltd. [Photo / China Daily]

The Middle East sees new riches for makers of clothes

Just as sightings of the crescent moon indicate the arrival of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, rising sales to the Middle East are pointing to more prosperous times for some of the garment makers of Yinchuan.

One such company is Yingchuan Wantini Clothing Co Ltd, which employs 230 people. Yang Faxiang, the company chairman, says: "Even though our exports to Europe and domestic sales have not been that rosy in the past few years because of the uncertain market conditions, demand for our clothes has grown considerably in the Middle East."

Yang, 64, says rising costs of imported materials, logistics and labor have forced a number of Arabic countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to turn their attention to garment factories in Yinchuan, the buyers and the sellers having a common culture.

"Because we have eight large competitors in Yinchuan, I realized we needed to do something different," Yang says. "We decided to change our main product from traditional Muslim dresses to wider Islamic-style garments for export to the Middle East, because there is less competition in that field."

He says that with this change in strategy his company has reallocated resources and readjusted capacity to a specific market and an online shopping business.

Wantini Clothing opened its first warehouse and direct-sale store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to support its market presence in the Middle East last year. In April it gained market access for selling school uniforms to Mauritania, an Arab Maghreb country in West Africa.

Four years ago, orders from the Middle East accounted for 40 percent of Wantini's business. At that time, the markets of the Middle East, Muslim communities in Western Europe and China's western regions such as the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Qinghai province dominated the export business of Yingchuan's garment industry. By last year, boosted by orders from Gulf states, Tunisia and Morocco, the value of the company's Islamic-style garment exports for different public utilities, schools and police forces reached $4.6 million last year, accounting for 95 percent of its exports.

The company has 12 Chinese and seven Saudi employees in Riyadh and hopes to open a store in Doha next year. Free Arabic language lessons are available in Yang's factory after the daily shift each Thursday evening.

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