Raw deal angers SA’s flag-makers
Manufacturers lose out to China on golden marketing opportunity
ANGRY South African flag manufacturing companies and trade unions believe more could have been done to benefit local flag-makers during the build-up to the World Cup.
Aydonne Samuels, sales and marketing director at National Flags, a local flag manufacturing company, said: “Money is leaving the country that should have been invested locally.”
While cars across the country are brandishing small flags and mirror socks, Samuels said only a small portion of those had been produced locally.
“We are a major supplier of the car mirror sock in the local market and all our products are manufactured in Johannesburg.”
He said some of the mirror socks were produced in Germany, “but the bulk were imported from China”.
A quick internet search for South African flags and World Cup products reveals that most were made in China.
Companies like Huayo Toys and Shaoxing Senior Flag Manufacturing in Guangdong province in China made items ranging from plastic kudu horn vuvuzelas to flags.
Etienne Vlok, of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), said most of the flags being sold on street corners had not been produced here.
The union had been in talks with Fifa and Safa at the end of 2008.
“We asked if they could source their products locally and following media reports some flags for municipalities and government departments were sourced here.”
Vlok said local companies could have benefited more from products like blankets, scarves, T-shirts and the elastic bands used on the mirror socks.
Samuels said when they ran a campaign called “Fly the Flag for Football” to encourage local retailers to source their flags locally, the response was poor.
“We contacted the International Marketing Council/ Brand South Africa and asked them for permission to use the ‘Fly the Flag for Football’ logo. We wanted to place a retail stand in each major retailer to assist the government in getting as many SA flags out there as possible.”
Large retailers like Game and the Crazy Store responded and now stock only locally pro- duced SA flags in all their stores.
“Unfortunately, the majority of the retailers import the flags from China. Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Mr Price, Sportsman’s Warehouse… all stock Chinese-made SA flags,” he said.
A staff member of a major South African retailer, who asked not to be named, said their South African car mirror socks and flags were sourced from China because “they can produce products faster and get them to us faster than local manufacturers”.
Brian Weyers, a director at Shoprite Checkers, said it had sourced 25% of its World Cup soccer merchandise from local suppliers. Products such as “mirror socks, mini soccer balls carrying only the South African flag – and all of our vuvuzelas” had been sourced locally.
The rest of the retailer’s merchandise came from overseas because it had to be official Fifa-approved gear. “Therefore we had to procure it from overseas manufacturers of Fifa’s choice.”
Pick n Pay, Mr Price and Sportsman’s Warehouse did not respond to queries about the source of their merchandise.
But Samuels said: “At the moment, South Africa has four fabric mills left and has to compete with China, which has more than 15 000 fabric mills. If companies like ours (National Flags) close down, that is likely to put the fabric mills out of business.”
TRUE COLOURS: Football fans show their support for South Africa’s team, Bafana Bafana.