Among the top garment manufacturing companies in Haiti are Gildan, Palm Apparel, Hanes, and MAS Akansyel. These companies have been producing shirts and other clothing items for decades. They produce many different types of clothing, from T-shirts to jeans. They also produce apparel for various sports teams. These companies are considered leaders in their field and continue to grow.
1 MAS Akansyel
MAS Akansyel is one of the top garment manufacturing companies in Haiti. Located in Parc Industriel de Caracol, the company produces athleisure, activewear, and sportswear. It is Sri-Lankan owned, and is a subsidiary of MAS Holdings.
The Haitian textile industry has seen a lot of change in the past few years. For a long time, the industry focused on high-volume, low-end production. In 2010, the textile and apparel industry accounted for about 10% of the country’s GDP. However, wages are extremely low, and the rapid depreciation of the gourde has made basic necessities unaffordable.
While the government has tried to provide incentives to help the industry, wages have declined over time. The Haitian textile industry has struggled with finding skilled management. The Association of Haitian Industries (AHI) is in negotiations with the government to find a solution.
While the industry continues to face challenges, it has seen some solid steps in the right direction. IRII, a new garment factory, has begun operation in Haiti in September 2013. This company is run by a management group of Haitians and Filipinos. The company is working to improve its supply chain and identify the right type of customers.
IRII is working to transition from commodity garment production to higher-end, higher-margin production. The majority of the employees are women. They have been trained in a three-month intensive course. They are now working in their first formal job. The workers have access to a dining hall and training facilities. They are paid a minimum of HTG350 per eight-hour work day.
A former hedge fund executive, Rahul Desai, created the company. He financed it with a $1 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other investors. The company imports labels, hand tags, threads, and trims. In addition to being a profit-making operation, IRII is also a socially responsible business. It invests 50% of its profits into its workers’ families.
2 Vald’or Apparel
Located just outside Port-au-Prince, Valdor Apparel is one of the most important garment manufacturing companies in Haiti. The company has been a pioneer in the global manufacture of performance apparel for more than 60 years. It delivers millions of store-ready garments every year.
The apparel industry is the largest contributor to Haiti’s economy, accounting for 80% of exports and a total of 28,000 jobs. However, wages for workers in the garment industry have been extremely low. In 2010, the textile and apparel sector accounted for about 10% of the country’s GDP.
The garment industry in Haiti has been hit hard by the 2010 earthquake. The resulting damage to the industry caused the loss of 3,500 jobs in the Port-au-Prince area. It is estimated that the total cost of rebuilding the industry in Haiti is $38 million.
For several weeks, garment workers have staged protests in the city. They are demanding a livable wage and better working conditions. They are also asking for an end to super-exploitative labor practices.
The World Bank estimates that the Gross National Income (GNI) for Haiti is $760 per capita. The country’s clothing industry exports to the US reached $896 million in November. Moreover, free-trade deals allow Haitian apparel to enter the US duty-free.
A recent report by the union syndicate IndustriALL (GOSTTRA) describes the struggles of thousands of garment workers for a livable wage. In addition, hundreds of farmers are still waiting for compensation for their lost livelihoods.
The government of Haiti is led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry. He has been in discussions with the High Council of Salaries to adjust the minimum wage. He has also met with leaders from the US clothing industry.
Located in the same hemisphere as the world’s largest clothing consumer, Gildan competes head-to-head with Chinese manufacturers. While the apparel manufacturer has not yet entered the retail market, it will soon sell apparel to retailers.
The company plans to expand its product line to include athletic socks, underwear, and basic T-shirts. It has acquired a NYC-based knitwear company called Anvil Knitwear for $88 million.
The company’s CSR report outlines improvements in worker safety. It also mentions free health clinics, counselling sessions, and childcare workshops. But, it is hard to determine how much of the hype actually changes the materials or manufacturing tools used.
One of the most controversial aspects of the company is its offshore sewing facilities. Gildan has relocated a few of its sewing facilities from Canada to Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico.
Workers at these facilities say that their bodies are being damaged by the repetitive strain of the work. They also complain that breaks are not respected by supervisors. Often, employees are forced to work 11-hour shifts. They are also told they cannot be relocated within the facility.
The garment industry is notorious for low profit margins. Because of this, many brands must justify the price of certain items. For example, American Apparel built a brand on clothing manufactured by workers who earn a living wage.
Another company, Fruit of the Loom, Inc., agreed to pay the minimum wage to 90% of its workers in its factories making products. But, in the late ’90s, the garment manufacturer filed for bankruptcy protection.
After its acquisition of Comfort Colors, Gildan was the leading supplier of basic sweatshirts in North America. The company plans to increase production to over 600 million pieces.
During the recent earthquake in Haiti, one of the top garment manufacturing companies was forced to halt production. Hanesbrands Inc., which owns brands including Champion, Wonderbra, Playtex, and Bali, was the biggest buyer of the garments made in the GO Haiti factory.
The workers at the GO Haiti factory were paid severance checks of $330,000. The factory owner decided to shut down the plant after the company’s major clients pulled out of the country.
The workers were given the equivalent of three months’ wages. However, the severance check was only paid by Hanesbrands, not the workers themselves. This payment was notable because it was made in the midst of a “desperate situation” for the garment workers.
The Haitian garment industry is notorious for its low wages. Before the earthquake, the average wage was $5 per day. In July, inflation blew past 30 percent. Before the earthquake, the apparel sector employed more than 25,000 workers.
The garment industry accounts for 10 percent of Haiti’s GDP. Most of the country’s exports come from this sector. Currently, there are ongoing economic and political tensions that have put a strain on the population.
The US Trade Representative Ron Kirk called for clothing manufacturers to import 1 percent of their production from Haiti. This was a step toward rebuilding the country’s textile industry, which provides an export market for millions of pounds of U.S. cotton products.
The International Finance Corporation, a part of the World Bank Group, reviewed the competitiveness of the garment assembly industry in Haiti. The report concluded that the country’s cheap sea freight costs gave the industry a distinct market advantage. The World Bank also found that the HOPE II and HELP programs provided preferential market access to the U.S.
5 Palm Apparel
Almost a year ago, the Palm Apparel factory in Carrifour, Haiti was hit by an earthquake. The building collapsed, killing more than 300 workers. Others were buried in the wreckage with sewing machines. This was a symptom of a wider social crisis in the country.
In addition to the earthquake, Hurricanes Irma and Maria and flooding devastated the country. The government’s efforts to raise fuel prices have been abandoned. The latest earthquake caused damage to another garment factory.
The government is attempting to build an industrial park in the north of the country. This would create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next few years. It would also help to improve the infrastructure of the country. The Inter-American Development Bank should issue tender contracts for the project.
The garment industry in Haiti is a key source of potential jobs. In 2010, textile and apparel accounted for 10 percent of the nation’s GDP. But it is a sector that has been slow to expand. The initial state of the country’s infrastructure made it difficult for new firms to get up and running.
The Palm Apparel group is seeking financing. It plans to reopen two plants. The Tabarre 27 site is outside Port-au-Prince. It was one of the hardest hit factories.
Palm Apparel has agreed to pay significant financial compensation to the families of those who died. However, there have been reports of discrimination and verbal abuse by management. Some union leaders have been expelled from the company.
Protests by the workers have continued for several weeks. This is a clear indication that the working class is becoming increasingly frustrated. The government has been trying to close down some factories, but workers have demanded an increase in the minimum wage.
Henry Pham (Pham Quang Anh), CEO of DONY Garment
This year, we have found that many international buyers are seeking new suppliers based in nations outside of China and Thailand to purchase many goods and products, including uniforms, workwear, reusable cloth face mask, and protective clothing.
At DONY Garment, we are proud to welcome international customers, especially those based in the US, Canada, the Middle East, and the EU market to discover the professional production line at our factory in Vietnam.
We guarantee our products are of the highest quality, at an affordable cost, and easy to transport across the world.