Finweek English Edition - - Kap international -

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.

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