TEE THREAT

One of Barbados’ oldest garment manufacturing companies is fighting for survival, and the threat it is facing is coming from outside the island.

A top official at the River Bay Trading Company, which has been operating for 34 years, says sales of polo shirts and T-shirts have dropped significantly, due to competition from products out of Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic. The T-shirts from the Dominican Republic, described by local manufacturers as of inferior quality, each cost up to $1.50 less than those produced in Barbados.

Joint owner and director of the Wildey, St Michael-based company, Ian Pickup, also pointed to what he cited as a discrepancy with polo shirts from Trinidad and Tobago.

“When it started off, it didn’t appear to be having too much of an effect, because the garments weren’t coming in large quantities; but after an investigation by the Barbados Customs late last year they determined the products were made in the Dominican Republic and the floodgates have opened.

“Many of our regular customers for T-shirts [such as] large companies, organizations, [organizers of] events, and so, on have switched to purchasing these T-shirts because they are cheaper than ours,” he said, noting that his company employed 45 people.

“In a company like ours, which makes several different types of garments, it’s the T-shirt business that keeps a good cash flow, enabling us to pay our wages and purchase our raw material; because T-shirts are fast to manufacture and easy to turn over.”
Issues relating to the Trinidad and Tobago product were raised with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry since late 2010, but Pickup said he had “not seen any significant progress”.

“We’re getting to a situation now where it’s make or break, and something has to be done,” he said.

According to the businessman, the situation stems from the fact that T-shirts were not included in the list of items given protection during trade negotiations between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic.

The problems facing River Bay Trading Company have been taken up by the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA). Executive director Bobbi McKay described the situation as “criminal”, and accused some former manufacturers of involvement.

“T-shirts are flooding our market from the Dominican Republic right now, and I’m not talking about hundreds; I’m talking about thousands of T-shirts for rallies and walks, and every kind of parade you can think of. Large companies that have more than 100 staff are now buying these T-shirts,” she revealed during this morning’s launch of May Day celebrations at Solidarity House.

“This creates a risk for the local company, and these are Barbadians who can and will be out of work if this practice continues.”

The BMA boss defended the quality of T-shirts produced in the country, stating they were world-class.

And, McKay warned that this situations like this could lead to job losses in the sector, possibly seeing a rise in crime –– which would also affect tourism and other industries.

6 Responses to TEE THREAT

  1. Prince Nick
    Prince Nick April 17, 2014 at 11:05 am

    stupse and i say until it is cheaper to manufacture things in barbados this will always happen …business ppl care more about the bottom line so if it is cheaper to get things made outside of the country they will do it its all about maximizing profits dough!!!!

    Reply
  2. Prince Nick
    Prince Nick April 17, 2014 at 11:05 am

    stupse and i say until it is cheaper to manufacture things in barbados this will always happen …business ppl care more about the bottom line so if it is cheaper to get things made outside of the country they will do it its all about maximizing profits dough!!!!

    Reply
  3. doug April 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

    And also cannot find a cap made in Barbados any longer…..We now only buy these products if made here

    Reply
  4. Angel Blossoms
    Angel Blossoms April 17, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Greed is the real threat to many business in bim ,sell item cheaper they wouldn’t be a need to buy them from outside.

    Reply
  5. Robert Holloway
    Robert Holloway April 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    buy local should be the rallying cry, find a way to show quality of garment , advertise to the large groups , must be a way to overcome a price difference of $1.50 bdn

    Reply
  6. Denis Lashley April 18, 2014 at 9:01 am

    To much protection can lead to blindness and in this case we need to compare fairly. If the products are inferior and cheaper and still selling then our marketing needs to se why. If it’s that we can’t match their prices period then we need to examine our manufacturing structure. Government, Unions and private sectors need to adjust to this world wide crisis or we will be buried for ever in our lazy and unproductive work ethics. How can certain companies be born, grow and export to the rest of the Caribbean and further afield like Banks Breweries, Harris Paints, Automotive Art, Meridian and Pre Conco and we not see what’s needed? The bus is pulling out of the station people, and we ain’t got the ticket yet!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *