Cut out for success

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, has launched the biggest black-owned textile firm as part of efforts to revive the local clothing and textile industry.

Launched in Verulam, the black-owned and black-managed, cut-make-and-trim (CMT) factory is part of the province’s concerted and continued efforts to supporting the local clothing and textile industry.

Speaking at the launch on Tuesday, Zikalala said the industry has in the past succumbed to severe international pressure that led to job losses. 

He said the Africa Bespoke Apparel factory, which has capacity to handle over 235 000 garments per month, is equipped with state-of-the-art technology which makes it able to compete internationally.   

The factory, he said, will be the link between fashion houses and the retail market.     

“We are pleased to report today that government, in partnership with private sector stakeholders, are working together to rebuild our manufacturing capacity in the clothing and textile industry. Government continues to avail financial assistance and other support to make the domestic clothing and textile industry more competitive,” the MEC said.

He said through the support, thousands of jobs have been retained, while new decent jobs have also been created. Additionally, punitive measures have been put in place to halt the influx of illegal clothing imports into the country.

Supporting local industry

Government, Zikalala said, is continually looking for opportunities where it can provide support for enterprises that will have a catalytic effect on a series of other businesses. 

“Today, courtesy of the catalytic role played by the KZN Growth Fund and Department of Trade and Industry (dti), Africa Bespoke Apparel stands as one of KwaZulu-Natal’s largest and most technologically advanced CMT factory.”

He said Africa Bespoke Apparel, which fashion and clothing houses have greeted with enthusiasm, will help grow and shape the North Coast Industrial Corridor, covering Umhlanga, Verulam, Tongaat, Ballito and Stanger.

Companies, including Foschini Group, Mr Price and Edcon Group, have welcomed the commissioning of the company, which has also started receiving orders from government departments, including the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Investing in jobs

At full capacity, the factory will create over 750 permanent jobs, drawing most of the employees from surrounding areas. The bulk of the employees will be previously disadvantaged women between the ages of 18 and 60 years.

As a country, South Africa’s top destination markets for clothing include the SADC region, United Kingdom, United States, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and Kenya. 

Zikalala said the province is focused on investing in infrastructure projects that drive inclusive industrial development and promote black industrialists. 

He said the Black Industrialist Programme is one of the critical measures that will ensure that people who were previously not represented in the mainstream economy in a meaningful way get opportunities to do so.

The provincial government, through the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Fund, has taken the decision to strategically partner with the dti, to support the establishment of Africa Bespoke Apparel under the auspices of the Black Industrialist Programme. 

To date, five black industrialist firms in the province have received support from the fund and the dti jointly.

“My department, through the Fund, is assessing additional projects for funding from qualifying black industrialists located in various parts of the province,” Zikalala said. -