TMC goes above and beyond the sustainability commitment in Vietnam

November 24, 2022 | 22:09
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New Zealand-headquartered TMC Ltd. is embracing circularity, sustainability, and digitalisation strategies to deliver exclusive high-performance fabrics for global brands by leading the charge in utilising innovative materials. Andy Wynne, CEO of TMC, discussed the country’s vibrant business climate with VIR’s Luu Huong and how the firm is capitalising on Vietnam’s free trade agreements with some of the largest economies in the world.

TMC has been named one of the World’s Most Innovative Manufacturers in 2022 by Fast Company. Could you share something about that journey?

TMC goes above and beyond the sustainability commitment in Vietnam
Andy Wynne, CEO of TMC

We were named number six in the world for the most innovative manufacturing company. For example, our yarn technology, which is completely unique, utilises a complex production mechanism, often from merino wool.

Our technology makes merino wool lighter in weight, more durable, stronger, more moisture absorbent, and quicker drying, and gives it a phenomenal natural stretch with zero elastane. This mix of technical attributes has enabled us to open up many opportunities in the outdoor performance sector.

The product has never existed before, and we consider it a great privilege to partner with some of the world’s most innovative high-performance apparel brands to commercialise this technology.

TMC goes above and beyond the sustainability commitment in Vietnam

Why does TMC choose Vietnam as its prime investment location?

Most of our brand partners are selling their products in international markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, EU, Australia, and Japan. Manufacturing in Vietnam is at the heart of our supply chain, as we can develop world-class products and bring them to a global market. We jumped on this manufacturing opportunity to strengthen our position here by increasing our production.

Being a New Zealand company, one of the most important elements contributing to our long-term commitment to Vietnam is the shared business values of honour, integrity, and work ethic.

We’ve also been able to benefit from the very progressive nature of the Vietnamese government in terms of multiple free trade agreements (FTA), such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, and the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, among others.

With the shared business ethics, skilled workforce, and the ability to move our product throughout the world with ease, we are very proud of our ability to continue to invest in Vietnam. Furthermore, multiple FTAs between Vietnam and other countries streamline shipping from Vietnam to locations including the West Coast of the US, the UK, and Europe.

There is a really strong future for us as a business right here in Vietnam. There is nowhere else we’d rather be and the time to grow that is now.

TMC accompanied New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her official visit to Vietnam. Could you share something about the importance of this visit for the company?

This trip with our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Vietnamese authorities provided a unique opportunity to work with the Ministry of Trade. We were able to look at how we can strengthen the relationship between New Zealand wool and Vietnamese manufacturing.

I could not help but ask myself – How can we collaborate further? What challenges do we face? And what opportunities do we have? Because we've got this amazing technology.

We do face a couple of challenges, and we are talking with the Vietnamese minister about finding some solutions. But essentially, we've got this incredible opportunity to invest, but the biggest advantage we have is we are not just starting today, we have experience – we have been here since 2009 building a highly proficient team that includes many talented experts from quality control, quality assurance, merchandising, logistics, and finance departments. We want to increase our footprint here in Vietnam to build on our successes with our fantastic customers.

What has impressed me the most about the last few days in Vietnam is the sincere nature with which the ministers in Vietnam and New Zealand have sat around the table to say let's look at the issues, let’s open up the opportunities, and it will be successful for both our countries and mutually beneficial to our businesses.

TMC goes above and beyond the sustainability commitment in Vietnam
TMC goes above and beyond the sustainability commitment in Vietnam

TMC is aiming to invest in a spinning factory in Vietnam. What are your expectations for this?

Yes, we intend to start a spinning business in southern Vietnam because we now produce textiles and apparel here. If we produce more yarn in Vietnam, the downstream impact is increased production and higher output.

We are impressed with the strategy of Vietnam, talking about innovation, sustainability, higher levels of market opportunity through value-added products, the hiring process, and opportunities with skilled labour.

Because our plant has been operating so much more effectively and efficiently than conventional ones, we have a decrease in energy usage to reduce our carbon footprint as well as a reduction in waste disposal.

Our professionalism and efficiency are clearly illustrated by our client approvals – they are at the highest level of performance apparel in Japan, in parts of Europe, in the UK, and in the US.

We also have our own specific rule set determining our target clients. We don't want to sell to everybody – we want to sell to the best in the market.

We've been here since 2009, and we have very strong relationships with our manufacturers. What's encouraging is that in some of the forums that we participated in in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there are still textile and apparel manufacturers that we haven't spoken to before that have the same strategy as ours.

We appreciate those opportunities to elevate our technology to deliver innovative, more sustainable, and more durable products.

As I mentioned earlier, Vietnam boasts vast potential thanks to several important FTAs with some of the biggest countries in the world, and I believe this is a fantastic business opportunity for any foreign-invested enterprises.

In addition, many good legal firms, accounting firms, and some world-renowned banks are also operating here to provide professional assistance, such as Big4 consulting companies, ANZ, and HSBC.

Could you kindly share some of TMC’s strategic plans to achieve sustainable development in the post-pandemic era?

After COVID, the world has looked at itself to say can we live more healthily? Can we have a better lifestyle? So, what we are seeing is that people are becoming more health-conscious. Customers are also buying more bicycles, performance running shirts, hiking socks and shoes. There has been a mindset change. We meet many of the wants of this new consumer.

Our machines are spinning between 140 and 250m. Conventional spinning is 14. As a result, you can see that the footprint that our manufacturing leaves behind may be significantly reduced.

Our finished products can outlast conventional merino wool by a factor of up to nine.

As an ethical manufacturing business with sustainable goals and ambitious innovation targets, we must build strong relationships with the right partners to do that. We want to produce for people with the same philosophies and beliefs as us.

We treat our employees like we treat our customers. We treat our suppliers the same. We treat people that engage with our business the same. Our people are very important to us. We want to work with companies that value their workers and those who elevate them. We want to work with people striving to reduce their carbon footprint.

The demographic here is young and digital-savvy. Vietnamese are ambitious and they have an entrepreneurial mindset. These are some of the real positives that we've experienced. I told the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade that we do not want to go anywhere else.

Promoting business cooperation between Vietnam and New Zealand Promoting business cooperation between Vietnam and New Zealand

In the framework of Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern’s official visit to Vietnam from November 14-17, the New Zealand Embassy in Vietnam coordinated with relevant ministries to organise events to promote business cooperation between the two countries.

New Zealand's leading export enterprises join trade promotion in Vietnam New Zealand's leading export enterprises join trade promotion in Vietnam

In order to promote trade and strengthen the comprehensive economic cooperation relationship between Vietnam and New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) organised an event at the GEM Center on the afternoon of November 16 to introduce the nation's brands to customers in Vietnam.

New Zealand and Vietnam propel new collaboration New Zealand and Vietnam propel new collaboration

Vietnam and New Zealand have found fresh ways to increase bilateral trade on the back of free trade agreements, of which they are members.

By Luu Huong

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