Handbag sector told demand increasing

The domestic handbag industry must increase investment and quality to meet the rising demand from importers under new bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, an industry official has said.

Nguyen Duc Thuan, chairman of Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso), said "with these trade agreements, Vietnamese businesses are finding it hard to cope with the increase in orders from the US, EU and Japan."

Famous handbag brands with production in China are now seeking cooperation contracts with Vietnamese businesses to do outsourcing work.

"If domestic enterprises make investments to meet orders from large markets, expanded relations with major importers will not be difficult," Thuan said.

Lefaso said that handbag export turnover could reach US$2.5-2.6 billion this year.

Export turnover of handbags for the first seven months of the year reached US$1.67 billion, an increase of 15-17% compared to the beginning of the year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Light Industrial Department.

The US was the key importer of handbags, wallets, purses, suitcases, hats and umbrellas in the first six months of the year, with total value of US$608 million, an increase of 15.7% compared to the same period last year.

This was followed by the EU (US$384 million) and Japan (US$154 million), with a year-on-year increase of 16.7% and 12.6%, respectively.

The Hoang Gia Garment Ltd Co, for example, said many orders had been received from foreign partners. The company has exported handbag products since 2008, with total export turnover so far of nearly US$5 million.

This year, the company targets to reach a value of US$500,000, with half of that coming from its own designed and produced items.

The company also does outsourcing work for brands such as Eastpak, Lammer, Bauer, Adidas, Nike and Redbook.

Thai Binh Production and Investment Joint Stock Company (TBS Group) said it recently signed a contract worth US$10 million on producing luxury handbags for export to the US.

To increase production, the company will build a production factory in Binh Duong Province with 3,000 workers.

Nguyen Quoc Huy, marketing director of Xuan Phong Trading Joint Stock Co, said that a Japanese company wanted to become a partner in a contract worth more than US$1 million per year.

Huy said the handbag sector has great potential, and that small-scale Vietnamese enterprises, even those with only 50 sewing machines, could also benefit from the race.