Getting tight with the “inn” crowd
Glodina is investing substantially in its human capital
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.