Blow­ing their own top sell­ing trum­pet

Self-pro­claimed SA ‘in­ven­tor’ of the vu­vuzela laughs all the way to the bank

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

MAS­INCEDANE Sports, which is owned by the self-pro­claimed “in­ven­tor of the vu­vuzela” Neil van Schalk­wyk, is rak­ing in big money from in­ter­na­tional sales dur­ing the World Cup.

He says sales have gone through the roof in the past fort­night and there has been a lot of in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est.

From be­ing a lo­cal phe­nom­e­non just a few months ago, the vu­vuzela has the world talk­ing. Even the sniffy All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion has no­ticed the vu­vuzela – it has banned it from Wim­ble­don, which starts on Mon­day.

Van Schalk­wyk said av­er­age sales had gone up from 500 to 50 000 vu­vuze­las a month.

The com­pany, based in Kuils River, was started 10 years ago. It em­ploys about 70 per­ma­nent staff. Last year the re­sale rights for vu­vuze­las in Europe were sold to two Ger­man en­trepreneurs, Frank Ur­bas and Gerd Kehrberg.

“They are li­censed to man­u­fac­ture vu­vuze­las in Ger­many and, as part of that agree­ment, the vu­vuze­las have had to be re­designed.”

Van Schalk­wyk said the mouth­piece would be changed to pro­duce less noise and the vu­vuzela would now be avail­able in three parts. “This will make it eas­ier to travel with the vu­vuzela. It will also be used to counter foot­ball hooli­gan­ism in Europe. If some­one hits you with a vu­vuzela it will break into three parts that can be put back to­gether again.”

He said the new de­signs would also be avail­able lo­cally. They sell for be­tween R30 and R60, depend­ing on whether ac­ces­sories like the na­tional flag had been added.

In the UK vu­vuzela sales have been good, with Sains­bury’s su­per mar­ket chain, re­port­ing sales of up­wards of 40 000 units. The chain’s World Cup pro­mo­tions also in­clude recipes of the favourite dishes of com­pet­ing coun­tries.

An­other UK busi­ness­man who im­ports vu­vuze­las from Van Schalk­wyk – and from the Far East – is David Broughton. He told the UK’s Daily Mail that he had sold about 10 000, or about one a minute since the start of the tour­na­ment.

Vu­vuze­las are also pop­u­lar in China, with man­u­fac­tur­ers strug­gling to keep up with de­mand. One com­pany, the Jiy­ing Plas­tic Prod­uct Cor­po­ra­tion based in the easter n prov­ince of Zhe­jiang, sold more than a mil­lion horns in the first four months of the year, mainly to South Africa, and the or­ders keep com­ing in.

Mean­while, Van Schalk­wyk is ex­plor­ing other mar­kets, “I am in talks with guys in the US and Brazil who are in­ter­ested.”

Is­raeli in­ter­net en­tre­pre­neur Oron Bar­ber has set up a site www.buy-vu­vuzela.com to con­nect buy­ers and sell­ers.

Bar­ber said he had set up the web­site for three months be­fore the World Cup af­ter re­al­is­ing that Fifa had ap­proved the trum­pets.

The site does not ac­tu­ally sell vu­vuze­las but con­nects buy­ers and sell­ers.

So far the site has ini­ti­ated sales of more than 30 000.

Bar­ber said most of the vu­vuze­las went to Europe but they were also pop­u­lar in Pak­istan, Jor­dan, Egypt and Al­ge­ria.

PIC­TURE: SAM CLARK,

PAAARP! Neil Van Schalk­wyk does his thing at a Water­front press con­fer­ence about his vu­vuzela suc­cess story.

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