What are the latest updates on the new satellite facility in the south?
It will be our second satellite factory in Jordan and will help promote employment. In early December, the Prime Minister held the groundbreaking ceremony for the satellite factory in Sahab. We expect to start the operation in August, with the first phase employing about 500 local workers and the second employing another 500. We expect this to resolve some of the unemployment issues in that area, and this satellite model is fully supported by the local government with the building of the factory and assisting with part of the salary for a certain period during initial operations. We have been in Jordan for over 17 years and are extremely honored to be the first Jordanian company to be listed on NASDAQ. We are in a unique position to create positive returns for Jordanian society. Reducing employment in remote areas is one of the best initiatives in this regard.
What have been the effects of Jerash's NASDAQ listing?
After several years in Jordan, everyone here is familiar with Jerash's quality and workmanship in garment manufacturing. After listing on the NASDAQ in May 2018, Jerash became an internationally recognized company. With shares floating on NSDAQ, it is easier for international brands to gain access to Jerash. For Jordan, this is also extremely significant because we are the first Jordanian company to be listed here. Both the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Supply and the Minister of State for Investment Affairs, who were present at the bell-ringing ceremony, said Jerash has set an excellent example for other Jordanian companies to follow. Jerash is a model of how other businesses can access more capital to expand through international capital platforms.
What makes Jerash Holdings the preferred partner in this industry?
For our business, we need to focus on three main pillars: quality workmanship, prompt delivery, and strict compliance with international standards in terms of working environment, living conditions, and human rights. Because of that, we receive great support from our buyers who are reputable names in the industry and continue to place increasingly large orders with us every year. We need to be diversified, especially in our product range, so that we can meet our customers' demands. For the last few years, Jerash has been expanding fairly rapidly, largely through growing commitments from our buyers.
What trends do you see in customer demand?
Jordan has enjoyed free trade agreements since 2000, and we have enjoyed access to the US market where we have savings on specific items of more than 30%, which are reflected in prices. In 2018 alone, VF (the North Face) had significant duty savings by placing orders in Jordan. In 2018, we were the first Jordanian company entitled to duty-free sales in Europe because we employ Syrian refugees. Europe has huge potential, and increasing numbers of European buyers are knocking on our doors for more orders. Jordan's geographic proximity to Europe means the lead time is shorter, which also gives us a competitive advantage. After over 17 years of operation in the country, we have the full support of the government in every area, such as the import of labor and tax-free conditions for a certain duration. The friendly attitude of the government is one of the reasons behind our positive track record in exporting to the US and European markets. Overall, Jordan has many advantages as a manufacturing and industrial hub, including investment incentives, development and free zones, excellent education, macroeconomic stability, modern infrastructure, security, and market access to over 1 billion consumers.