BUY LOCAL – IT’LL SAVE THE INDUSTRY
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.”
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