ROLLING OUT THE LOCAL CONTENT CARPET
The recent joint venture between Feltex Automotive and Melbourne’s Futuris Automotive Interiors, has important strategic consequences for SA’s automotive sector, enhancing local capacity and diminishing the industry’s reliance on imports.
The JV, which entails a R22,5m investment in a new factory based in East London’s industrial development zone, will see the manufacture of tufted carpets in SA for the first time. The contract that motivated the deal was through DaimlerChrysler, which wants the carpets for its new Mercedes Benz C-class range, being constructed in SA from mid-year.
Ugo Frigerio, MD of Feltex Automotive, says the factory will initially support 20 jobs, though more employees are set to be brought in as production expands.
Aside from being in a position to supply a major client – DaimlerChrysler – Feltex stands to benefit from Futuris’s expertise in the latest tufting technology. “To date these carpets have been imported, but demand for localisation of this specific type of carpet is growing.”
Mark de Wit, CEO of Futuris Interiors, says the JV will serve to support the group’s global expansion plans in its core automotive carpet market and follows on from operations in China, the US and Australia.
“We felt the Futuris technology was the most appropriate for our needs in the SA market, and apart from the new CClass, the JV will also supply tufted carpets to recently acquired Caravelle Carpets, which has been importing tufted stock as a material of choice in the premium loose-lay carpet market.
“We will also pursue opportunities for the supply of tufted carpets to other auto manufacturers in SA, as well as into export markets such as to the US and Australia,” adds Frigerio.