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Cutting your cloth to suit your style

Updated: 2013-09-26 10:41
By Huang Ying ( China Daily)

Textile company boss defies declining trend with unique approach to business

Cutting your cloth to suit your style

People shopping in a PYE store in Hong Kong. PYE is a retail brand of Esquel Group. Provided to China Daily

Regarding one of China's most traditional industries - textiles and apparel - Marjorie Yang Mun-tak holds quite different a view in comparison with mainstream opinion that it is a declining industry with no future.

"There are no sunrise industries or sunset industries. The point lies in how people run these industries," said Yang, chairwoman of Hong Kong-based Esquel Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of premium cotton shirts, boasting well-known customers including Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss AG, Nike Inc and Ralph Lauren Corp.

Born to a textile family, in which both her maternal grandfather and father were engaged in textile manufacturing and trading, Yang's father Yang Yuan-loong declined to encourage her to continue in the family business at first, saying it was very tough work.

However, not only did the young Yang inherit the family business, but she made it a great success while others dismissed it as a sunset industry.

In 1995, Yang officially took the helm of Esquel Group, which was founded by her father in 1978 some 26 years after her birth.

Yang, who has a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA degree from Harvard Business School, brought new ideas into corporate management, far different from her father's ways.

Immediately after assuming the post of Esquel Group's chairman, she came up with several new proposals and endeavored to have them put in place despite facing a variety of difficulties.

These proposals included setting up a new plant in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, investing in the improvement of local extra long-stapled cotton seeds - cotton with relatively long fibers - and introducing new scientific technologies and ideas in company management.

Esquel Group's annual revenue more than doubled from $530 million in 2006 to $1.2 billion in 2012, a year when the producer made more than 100 million shirts for its high-end customers.

In the same year, Yang ranked in Forbes' list of Asia's 50 Power Businesswomen and, in addition to that, she entered the list of the richest businesswomen and is frequently on the list of most-successful female entrepreneurs.

While most apparel and textile enterprises complain about depression in the industry, Esquel Group speaks a different language.

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