Get­ting tight with the “inn” crowd

Glo­d­ina is in­vest­ing sub­stan­tially in its hu­man cap­i­tal

Finweek English Edition - - Kap international - COPY: Brent Melville AD­VER­TIS­ING: Evans Mumba

IF YOU’VE EVER “LIB­ER­ATED” a bath or pool-side towel from a top ho­tel, then chances are that you could be the proud owner of a prod­uct man­u­fac­tured by KAP In­ter­na­tional sub­sidiary Glo­d­ina, the brand of choice of many South African ho­tels.

It’s not sur­pris­ing they end up in the suit­cases of ho­tel guests. Th­ese days a good towel is hard to find. Aside from erod­ing jobs in the tex­tile and fab­rics sec­tor, the ad­vent of cheap Asian im­ports has meant that the South African con­sumer is faced with sub-stan­dard tow­els. Given that SA is a hot coun­try whose cit­i­zens love liv­ing on the beach and loung­ing by the pool, qual­ity tow­els are an im­por­tant part of our leisure ac­ces­sory kit.

And the lo­cals have shown they pre­fer qual­ity over price, a con­cept that has been the cor­ner­stone of Glo­d­ina’s suc­cess for more than half a cen­tury. Last year the com­pany sold 11m tow­els, rep­re­sent­ing about 31% of the mar­ket. In the process they used 2800 tons of cot­ton, gar­ner­ing the com­pany the award for best all-round per­for­mance from the SA Cot­ton Board for the sixth year run­ning.

Glo­d­ina’s near leg­endary rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity, dura­bil­ity and in­no­va­tion stands as the com­pany’s point of de­par­ture from other brands. Yet the com­pany doesn’t rest on its lau­rels – it has di­ver­si­fied in the wake of the flood of im­ported ma­te­ri­als. Out­side of its tra­di­tional linens, du­vets and sleep­ing bags, it has moved into ar­eas such as cloth nap­pies, mar­keted un­der the Black La­bel brand. In many re­spects it was its range of Black La­bel nap­pies that put the com­pany on the map, and back into the black, so to speak.

Glo­d­ina MD, Paul Re­dondi, says while dis­pos­able nap­pies ob­vi­ously re­main ex­tremely pop­u­lar, there’s a stable mar­ket for tow­elling nap­pies, es­pe­cially among the more af­flu­ent con­sumers. “They’re more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly than the non-biodegrad­able dis­pos­able ver­sion, as well as health­ier on ba­bies in that they utilise nat­u­ral fi­bres and pure cot­ton ver­sus syn­thetic fi­bres.”

Trust in the prod­uct is ul­ti­mately a re­flec­tion of its in­her­ent qual­ity. The com­pany’s Dur­ban-based man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity last year added both the ISO-14000 (en­vi­ron­men­tal) and ISO-18000 (Safety and health) ac­cred­i­ta­tions to its ISO-9000 qual­ity cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

To main­tain th­ese high stan­dards and im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity, Glo­d­ina is also con­stantly rein­vest­ing in plant and equip­ment. Last year it in­jected R19m into projects aimed at im­prov­ing cost com­pet­i­tive­ness, and money is also be­ing spent on mar­ket­ing into the re­tail trade. The re­sults are re­flected in the in­come state­ment, with turnover reach­ing the R200m mark for the first time last year, rep­re­sent­ing about 6% of KAP group turnover. Re­dondi is look­ing for fur­ther growth ar­eas: “We are also look­ing at fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties in the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor, where there’s the po­ten­tial for good growth, as well as open­ing up ad­di­tional fac­tory out­lets.”

Glo­d­ina is also in­vest­ing sub­stan­tially in its hu­man cap­i­tal, rang­ing from train­ing and de­vel­op­ment and learn­er­ship pro­grammes to men­tor­ing and up-skilling un­em­ployed in­di­vid­u­als from the com­mu­nity. “Tech­ni­cal ad­vances are one thing, but to truly suc­ceed, you need to in­vest in peo­ple.”

The suc­cess of their “peo­ple first” approach is re­flected in the longevity of their em­ploy­ees. The av­er­age length of ser­vice among Glo­d­ina’s al­most 500 em­ploy­ees is 23 years – an im­pres­sive fig­ure by any mea­sure.

Re­dondi says the cur­rent mar­ket cy­cle is buoy­ant, and he ex­pects it to re­main so in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA Soc­cer World Cup.

To keep up with de­mand and di­ver­sify its tar­get mar­kets, the com­pany is mov­ing into new, en­er­getic prod­ucts, in­clud­ing a beach, fash­ion and leisurewear di­vi­sion. “The face of the com­pany is chang­ing, but the fo­cus on qual­ity will al­ways re­main,” Re­dondi pledges.

And you can put that in your suit­case and take it home with you.

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