Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
THE global mining sector and the safari industry remain the key export market drivers for Archer Clothing, one of the oldest clothing factories in the country.
The firm mainly exports to Germany and South Africa and is focused on expanding footprint at home and abroad.
Group production head, Mr Sumit Sharm, told Business Chronicle last week the company was producing slightly above 100 000 garments every month with the bulk destined for export markets.
“For exports, there is a huge demand from the mining and tourism sector mainly from the safari unit.
We have regular demand for bush wear outfits,” he said.
“Every month we produce 100 000 garments and export to our major customer, which is South Africa.
We manufacture about 1 000 range of products. We are shipping out to Mozambique, Zambia and Germany,” said Mr Sharm.
Business Chronicle observed that some of the garments were embroidered with major South African fast food retail outlet trademarks.
To remain competitive on the export front, Mr Sharm said new equipment would be delivered in January to boost capacity and efficiencies.
“Most of our machinery is about 20 years old and we are waiting for new equipment to arrive in January. That would help to improve our productivity and enhance competitiveness in the export sector,” he said.
Mr Sharm said they were spending in the region of US$200 000 to order the new equipment. With expansion at the Bulawayo factory, more workers would be employed. In Bulawayo, the giant manufacturing firm employs 1 200 people and 800 in Harare.
Unlike in recent years, where the second largest city suffered massive closure and relocation of big companies, the tide is turning as more companies are now expanding capacity and growing their export footprint.
This is happening at a time when the Government, under the Second Republic, is working closely with the private sector to roll out comprehensive economic reforms under the philosophy “Zimbabwe is open for business”.
Zimbabwe’s ambassadors and staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade toured the factory.
The country’s ambassador to Germany, Alice Mashingaidze, who was part of the delegation expressed satisfaction with the quality of products produced.
She told Business Chronicle that she is keen on engaging Germany firms to create linkages with Archer Clothing and boost exports.
“The clothing sector in Bulawayo is on the rise and it is pleasing to hear that Archer Clothing is exporting to Germany,” she said.
“As ambassador to Germany, I am keen on initiating talks with the firm directors and with the view of expanding German markets. I would want to know who they are dealing with and I will engage them in Germany to enhance trade,” said Ambassador Mashingaidze.
Archer Clothing received a new lease of life following takeover by Harare-based Paramount Garments.
Under the deal, Paramount Garments assisted with clothing material and labour while Archer Clothing chipped in with working space pending the liquidation process of the Bulawayo firm.
Archer Clothing was laid low due to a myriad of problems which included a harsh economic environment and a liquidity crunch, which has seen several local firms close or listed in critical condition.
The company was placed under judicial management in 2010 after being seriously hit by shortage of working capital, obsolete machinery, power challenges and cheap imports, which remain major constraints crippling the viability of industries in Bulawayo.
In the same year, the clothing company scaled down operations, laying off 270 contract workers and 210 permanent employees.
The revival of the company is welcome news for the industry, which at its peak, the textile sector used to produce about 135 million garments annually.
Article Source: The Chronicle