On a firm foot­ing

Keep­ing up to date with aes­thet­ics and tech­nol­ogy

Finweek English Edition - - Kap international -

THEY’RE NOT DE­SIGNED FOR run­ning, board meet­ings or en­er­getic walks up Ta­ble Moun­tain, but rigid, steel-toed boots and shoes have cer­tainly got a place in the mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly from within the swelling ranks of work­ers who are help­ing SA gear up its in­fra­struc­ture ahead of the 2010 Soc­cer World Cup.

It’s com­mon knowl­edge that Gov­ern- ment’s am­bi­tious spend­ing plans, which will ul­ti­mately amount to ex­pen­di­ture of about R400bn over the next five years, will pro­vide a fil­lip for the con­struc­tion and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tors. So it’s not a ma­jor stretch to in­fer that some of that will ac­crue to down­stream com­pa­nies such as KAP In­ter­na­tional sub­sidiaries United Fram and Wayne Plas­tics, which ad­here to the credo that an army of en­gi­neers marches with its feet.

Jef­frey Bur­land, MD of both com­pa­nies, is en­thu­si­as­tic about mar­ket prospects: “Our key mar­kets, in the form of the in­dus­trial, min­ing and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tors, are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a se­ri­ous growth cy­cle, and de­mand for our prod­ucts is fol­low­ing suit. To­gether, United Fram and Wayne Plas­tics pro­duced and sold 2,9m pairs of footwear in 2006, a 16% growth on 2005 lev­els. This rep­re­sents by far the ma­jor mar­ket share.”

Ac­quired in 2002 by KAP In­ter­na­tional from then-SAB sub­sidiary Con­shu, the com­pa­nies’ prod­uct ranges ex­tend to in­jec­tion moulded leather, vul­can­ised rub­ber boots and shoes, used in a variety of di­verse in­dus­tries in­clud­ing min­ing, petro­chem­i­cals, engi- neer­ing, con­struc­tion, se­cu­rity, forestry and defence. All are pro­duced at their Jo­han­nes­burg-based, ISO 9001-ac­cred­ited fac­to­ries.

United Fram’s pop­u­lar Egoli and Iny­ati brands are al­ready used ex­ten­sively in deep-level min­ing op­er­a­tions in SA, and the com­pany is ac­tively look­ing to fur­ther ex­tend its mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion by adding ex­tra ca­pac­ity in the form of larger premises and in­vest­ment in ma­chin­ery.

At Wayne Plas­tics, mean­while, Bur­land says ex­port or­ders for the PVC gum­boots it pro­duces are also climb­ing and now rep­re­sent al­most 20% of turnover. “We are hav­ing trou­ble keep­ing up with the or­ders. Our boots are cur­rently shipped to 15 coun­tries

Ul­ti­mately, the footwear should be de­signed to work

with feet.

world­wide, with heavy duty wa­ter-, chem­i­cal- and oil-re­sis­tant safety boots sold into the min­ing in­dus­try, and gen­eral pur­pose and spe­cial­ist gum­boots used in ap­pli­ca­tions such as food har­vest­ing, agri­cul­ture and food pro­cess­ing.”

He says both com­pa­nies are cur­rently in the process of up­grad­ing their prod­uct ranges and equip­ment. Planned ca­pac­ity ex­pan­sion at Wayne Plas­tics should make the com­pany one of the largest gum­boot man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world.

How­ever, the fo­cus is not only on num­bers, but also on keep­ing up to date with aes­thet­ics and tech­nol­ogy – pro­vid­ing work­forces with greater com­fort and pro­tec­tion for their feet. “Ul­ti­mately, the footwear should be de­signed to work with feet – not the other way around,” says Bur­land.

In keep­ing with the above, the com­pa­nies’ com­pet­i­tive sell­ing point is con­sis­tently about the qual­ity of their prod­ucts. Says Bur­land: “We’re al­ways think­ing safety.

“Whether it’s a gum­boot or leather shoe, steel or plas­tic, our shoe is re­in­forced and sturdy. Our fac­to­ries carry the stamp of ap­proval of the SA Bureau of Stan­dards and are aligned to stan­dards laid down by the Euro­peans, Aus­tralians and Cana­di­ans. Ul­ti­mately, you’re only as good as your latest pair of boots.”

En­thu­si­as­tic about mar­ket prospects.

Jeff Bur­land

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