Raw deal angers SA’s flag-mak­ers

Man­u­fac­tur­ers lose out to China on golden mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­nity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ANGELA - NEO MADITLA

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.”

PIC­TURE: CINDY WAXA

TRUE COLOURS: Foot­ball fans show their sup­port for South Africa’s team, Bafana Bafana.

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