Cash­mere king Er­dos threads it away around the globe

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHANG YU and YUAN HUI in Or­dos, In­ner Mon­go­lia

Er­dos Group has al­ready made a ma­jor im­pact on the world stage and now it plans to ex­pand its in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tion from its Or­dos head­quar­ters.

The world’s largest man­u­fac­turer of cash­mere prod­ucts has about 30 per­cent of the global mar­ket from its base in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

With more than 40,000 staff, the Chi­nese con­glom­er­ate is val­ued at about 70 bil­lion yuan ($10.4 bil­lion) with a sales rev­enue of more than 40 bil­lion yuan an­nu­ally.

“We are still build­ing our brand up and we will go even fur­ther,” said Zhang Meirong, gen­eral man­ager of the group’s cash­mere op­er­a­tion. “There are ex­cel­lent in­ter­na­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties out there in Europe, the United States and Ja­pan.”

Up to 70 per­cent of the world’s cash­mere comes from China, ac­cord­ing to Zhang, at 8,400 met­ric tons. Gar­ments made from the fab­ric are usu­ally warm and soft, and can be ex­pen­sive.

But with large herds of goats, In­ner Mon­go­lia has be­come China’s epi­cen­ter for the in­dus­try with 60 per­cent of the coun­try’s cash­mere com­ing from the re­gion.

“Cash­mere from the goats here is pure white,” Zhang said. “They boast great prop­er­ties in terms of thick­ness and length, good enough to make high-qual­ity clothes.”

“It makes very good clothes,” she added.

Founded in 1979, Er­dos Group, also known as the In­ner Mon­go­lia Er­dos Group Co Ltd, is now a sprawl­ing com­pany in­volved in en­ergy projects and met­al­lurgy.

But its core busi­ness is still cash­mere pro­cess­ing and pro­duc­tion, al­though the past few years have been chal­leng­ing as in­ter­na­tional brands moved into China.

“We have cer­tainly met these chal­lenges in re­cent years,” Zhang said. “The com­pe­ti­tion and shrink­ing mar­ket forced ser­val brands to close. But we have man­aged to ex­pand our busi­ness by mak­ing the right moves,” she added.

Last year, the group up­graded its la­bels and di­ver­si­fied to help sat­isfy dif­fer­ent con­sumer trends.

The 1436 fab­ric line, which was launched a decade ago, uses fiber less than 14.5 mi­crom­e­ters thick and more than 36 mil­lime­ters long. It is the cor­ner­stone of the com­pany’s lux­ury cash­mere op­er­a­tion.

Still, the old Er­dos brand has been split into four la­bels, 1436, Er­dos 1980, Er­dos and Blue Er­dos.

Er­dos 1980 is tai­lored to­ward the more af­flu­ent, ma­ture cus­tomer with clas­sic de­signs.

As for Er­dos, it tends to tar­get well-ed­u­cated mid­dle class clients who look for qual­ity and fash­ion.

Fi­nally, Blue Er­dos has been rolled out for a younger mar­ket, fea­tur­ing sim­ple de­signs at af­ford­able prices.

“From that divi­sion, we have yielded good re­sults with sales vol­ume in­creas­ing by 15 per­cent to 20 per­cent an­nu­ally for three con­sec­u­tive years,” Zhang said.

To cater for ris­ing de­mand, the group has in­creased its pro­duc­tion.

More than 10 mil­lion cash­mere prod­ucts will be man­u­fac­tured this year, while the com­pany now has a de­sign stu­dio in Mi­lan, Italy, as well as the US.

“About 50 per­cent of our prod­ucts are ex­ported to Euro­pean coun­tries and the US,” Zhang said. “We also ex­port to Ja­pan.”

Cash­mere from the goats here is pure white.” Zhang Meirong, gen­eral man­ager of Er­dos Group’s cash­mere op­er­a­tion

Con­tact the writ­ers at zhangyu1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Er­dos prod­ucts at a shop in Ho­hhot.

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