Tex­tiles thriv­ing


THE KwaZulu-Na­tal cloth­ing and tex­tile in­dus­try is run­ning at ca­pac­ity as up­dated pro­duc­tion meth­ods kick in and the R3 bil­lion in govern­ment in­cen­tives dis­trib­uted since 2010 takes hold.

Shaun Gan­non, ex­ec­u­tive at B&M An­a­lysts and co-or­di­na­tor of the KZN Cloth­ing and Tex­tile Clus­ter, said im­proved pro­duc­tion since 2010 was putting the in­dus­try on to a tra­jec­tory which could open up em­ploy­ment for 150 000250 000 peo­ple by the year 2022.

About 94 000 peo­ple are for­mally em­ployed in the sec­tor at present.

B& M An­a­lysts is a global firm with its head of­fice in Dur­ban. It pro­motes in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment through in­ter­na­tional in­dus­try bench­mark­ing and re­search and as­sists mem­ber com­pa­nies to im­prove com­pet­i­tive­ness. The com­pany rep­re­sents 200 firms in dif­fer­ent in­dus­try clus­ters na­tion­ally, of which about 80 be­long to cloth­ing and tex­tile clus­ters in the Cape and KZN.

Na­tion­ally, the in­dus­try shed 160 000 jobs be­tween 2006 and 2013 as busi­nesses strug­gled to com­pete with in­ter­na­tional mar­kets af­ter the lift­ing of sanc­tions and low­er­ing of im­port du­ties in the post-apartheid era.

The col­lapse of the world’s fi­nan­cial mar­kets in 2008 also played its role.

With KZN and the Western Cape be­ing the hard­est hit, KZN em­ploy­ment fig­ures in the sec­tor are now show­ing a re­cov­ery with an in­crease from 20 818 to 23 269 since 2010.

Gan­non at­trib­uted the im­proved em­ploy­ment growth to govern­ment fi­nanc­ing for cap­i­tal and pro­duc­tion im­prove­ments in fac­to­ries, the weak rand and the in­tro­duc­tion of Quick Re­sponse and Lean Man­u­fac­tur­ing Mod­els in about 30 com­pa­nies in the prov­ince.

He said the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try’s Cloth­ing and Tex­tile Com­pet­i­tive­ness Pro­gramme was a cat­a­lyst in the re­cov­ery of the sec­tor.

Fur­ther, ac­cord­ing to Gan­non, sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits were fil­ter­ing down to smaller busi­nesses as ma­jor re­tail­ers were turn­ing to lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers to keep abreast of in­ter­na­tional trends in real time.

“Yes, we had a large in­dus­try pre-1994,” Gan­non said. “But it was pro­tected by im­port du­ties, was in­flex­i­ble and was heav­ily re­liant on lo­cal re­tail cus­tomers.”

He said learn­ing from the Quick Re­sponse Model used mainly in Turkey meant de­sign­ers, re­tail­ers, tex­tile mills and cloth­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers were now work­ing more closely to­gether to achieve a 42-day lead time from con­cept to shop to meet con­sumer de­mand.

“Quick re­sponse re­quires more up­front de­ci­sion-mak­ing re­gard­ing base fab­rics, pat­terns, colours and prints. Within a sea­son un­lim­ited va­ri­ety can be cre­ated around these ac­cord­ing to cus­tomer de­mand.”

Gan­non added: “Quick Re­sponse is shift­ing the cloth­ing and pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties which add most value back to South Africa. This in­cludes dye­ing, print­ing and fin­ish­ing (or fab­ric con­ver­sion).

“They sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the op­por­tu­nity for in-sea­son flex­i­bil­ity. Cur­rently, most of our fab­rics are im­ported from the East, but yes, there is also def­i­nitely place for more weav­ing and knit­ting in the coun­try.”

Gan­non added that tex­tile mills op­er­at­ing in the prov­ince were also run­ning at ca­pac­ity.

He said the ar­rival of in­ter­na­tional chain stores such as Zara, Cot­ton On and Top­shop meant do­mes­tic re­tail­ers were un­der mas­sive pres­sure to re­spond more quickly to mar­ket de­mand.

“Re­tail­ers – par­tic­u­larly in the last year – are see­ing the ben­e­fit of sup­port­ing lo­cal sup­pli­ers,” he said.

Com­pe­ti­tion is also high from places like Mau­ri­tius and Mada­gas­car. Le­sotho is an­other threat as many firms have moved their pro­duc­tion to that coun­try to ben­e­fit from lower wage rates since 2006.

Preggy Naidu, who runs his com­pany Shiva Cloth­ing in Port Shep­stone, said an­other 150 jobs had been added to his op­er­a­tion in the past year, bring­ing to­tal em­ploy­ment to 300.

The com­pany has also ex­panded its 1 250m 2 fac­tory space by 750m2 since 2014.

Naidu, who sup­plies baby cloth­ing and un­der­wear to the Ed­con Group, said he was hav­ing to turn away work.

“We are putting out 400 000 units a month. Our or­der book is over­flow­ing. The big­gest chal­lenges now are get­ting raw ma­te­ri­als and skilled labour,” he said.

Bren­ton Poo­ley, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Dyefin Tex­tiles, said the com­pany had taken ad­van­tage of the govern­ment’s in­cen­tives and had in­stalled about R30 mil­lion in new machin­ery since 2011.

He said meet­ing the de­mand of in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, par­tic­u­larly the EU, was a top pri­or­ity as ex­ports were also on the in­crease.

The com­pany, whose ma­jor share­holder is Ninian & Lester, moved its whole op­er­a­tion to the Heart­land In­dus­trial Com­plex south of Dur­ban to ben­e­fit from cleaner op­er­a­tional in­fra­struc­ture.

“We have a world class ef­flu­ent treat­ment plant here. We run on Sasol gas, which is much cleaner than coal, and noth­ing goes to waste.”

Em­ploy­ing 245 peo­ple, Dyefin is dye­ing 340 tons of fab­ric a month and print­ing 320 000m of fab­ric a month.

Phumelele Deyi is one of 10 peo­ple in a line of ma­chin­ists at Shiva Cloth­ing in Port Shep­stone. Pic­tured left is Thokozani Khany­ile, the lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cian at Dyefin Tex­tiles in south Dur­ban.

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