CityPress - - Business - HOPEWELL RADEBE hopewell.radebe@city­

The IDC has been work­ing with cloth­ing and tex­tile union Sactwu, re­lated busi­ness sec­tors and gov­ern­ment to forge a com­mon plan to re­build the coun­try’s tex­tile sec­tor.

“It’s a known fact, and ev­ery stake­holder ap­pre­ci­ates that it has been in se­ri­ous trou­ble,” says Sha­keel Meer, the IDC’s divi­sional ex­ec­u­tive for chem­i­cals and tex­tiles, ad­ding that it in­volved re­tail­ers, unions and the depart­ment of trade and in­dus­try in its dis­cus­sions.

Meer says the IDC has been man­ag­ing a spe­cific depart­ment of trade and in­dus­try bud­get, which is de­signed to re­vi­talise the tex­tile in­dus­try.

The main fo­cus has been on en­sur­ing that busi­nesses be­come more com­pet­i­tive through im­proved equip­ment and pro­cesses and in­cor­po­rate in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices.

A sig­nif­i­cant and strate­gic shift was needed to im­prove the coun­try’s com­pet­i­tive­ness if the lo­cal tex­tile in­dus­try was to be saved from to­tal col­lapse.

“We be­lieve that the unions are on board be­cause they un­der­stand that if the tex­tile in­dus­try does not com­pete on an in­ter­na­tional stage, many work­ers will be out of a job,” Meer says.

“Lo­cal sup­pli­ers of ma­te­ri­als and tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ers know that if there is no buy-in and

It is cru­cial to do some ba­sic re­search, in­clud­ing talk­ing to po­ten­tial cus­tomers and re­tail­ers, Meer says.

You should not as­sume that cus­tomers will sim­ply want to buy any­thing you man­u­fac­ture.

“Cus­tomers are the start­ing point and suc­cess­ful busi­ness finds ways to con­vince cus­tomers that their prod­ucts are unique,” Meer says.

You must un­der­stand the cus­tomer. You should strive to re­spect their tastes and pref­er­ences, and en­sure that you talk to peo­ple and re­tail­ers, and get them to try your sam­ples.

You should bear in mind that the process may be slow, and a plan is needed to sur­vive the first three to five years. Re­search lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally has proven that most com­pa­nies fail within two to three years of be­ing es­tab­lished.

The IDC is look­ing for en­trepreneurs who have done the ba­sics and know ex­actly what busi­nesses they need to es­tab­lish, and you should be pre­pared to change your plans or ap­proach should the world change.

“You might need to mod­ify your plan in line with the chang­ing busi­ness land­scape,” Meer says.

Radebe – Hopewell

col­lab­o­ra­tion, then busi­ness will not meet the re­tail­ers’ needs or dead­lines, and it will col­lapse.”

Meer ad­mits that the in­dus­try has been un­der a lot of pres­sure from other fac­tors as well, such as il­le­gal im­ports, so it has roped in the au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice’s cus­toms unit, to im­prove the polic­ing of il­le­gal im­ports.

How­ever, the last step in re­viv­ing the lo­cal tex­tile sec­tor lies with the South African con­sumer.

“The in­dus­try needs con­sumers to buy lo­cally man­u­fac­tured clothes. They are a crit­i­cal el­e­ment in the sus­tain­abil­ity of this sec­tor,” he says.

Meer be­lieves com­pa­nies have stepped up to the plate and are be­gin­ning to pro­duce qual­ity prod­ucts that com­pete with the best in the world.

“We have ex­cel­lent de­sign­ers in South Africa whose prod­ucts are in de­mand in­ter­na­tion­ally,” he says.

The IDC has be­come in­volved in the cloth­ing and tex­tile sec­tor be­cause the banks have been re­luc­tant to fi­nance it.

“The sec­tor was un­doubt­edly go­ing down, but the ini­tia­tives over the past few years have brought sta­bil­ity,” he says.

“Hope­fully, we will sus­tain this mo­men­tum and make it grow. Not for­get­ting this dif­fi­cult eco­nomic path, we are con­vinced that com­pa­nies in South Africa are be­com­ing more com­pet­i­tive, and re­tail­ers are re­al­is­ing the value of prod­ucts made in South Africa.”

BEST DRESSED Th­ese de­signs by Bongiwe Walaza were pre­sented at MercedesBenz Fash­ion Week last year

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