HANDS-ON: MEC Alan Winde admires the skill of a machinist at Prestige Clothing, one of the leading textile factories in the region.
Changes in the management style at three clothing factories and a huge cash injection may have saved the jobs of workers there, a project manager said.
Paul Finnigan, director and business coach at Pisa Consulting, who has been appointed by the Industrial Development Corporation to manage 13 projects, yesterday said: “We are changing management’s thinking and including all staff in the process to create more efficiency, quality, better turnaround time and a better working environment for the staff, and we are getting it right.”
Finnigan made his remarks during a visit by economic development and tourism MEC Alan Winde to Radeem Clothing in Elsies River, K-Way factory in Ottery, owned by Cape Union Mart International, and Prestige Clothing in Maitland, which was recently bought by the Foschini Group.
Finnigan warned that “bad management causes closures and it all starts with poor leadership”. Winde said the clothing and textile sector in the Western Cape had turned the corner after many years of decline, and that it was moving towards a more sustainable model of development.
“Competitiveness, growth, employment and profit create environments that grow the economy,” Winde said.
Proposals for various needs for these clothing manufacturers were approved by the Department of Trade and Industry. As a result, they are receiving funding from the Industrial Development Corporation.
Western Cape Government Manufacturing Industry Development’s acting director Anita Du Plooy said: “Funding of R1.25m was initially given; it has now been raised to R2.25m.”
Finnigan explained that “the clothing industry is about fashion” and waiting for imports from China for up to six weeks could result in the stocks arriving after the fashions had become outdated.“China’s model will fail. They can’t compete with us as we can manufacture different stock, which is what people want to see all year round.”
Factory workers said they were happy with the new management style.
“We are working much better than before with this new style that has been introduced,” said Elizabeth Willemse, a machinist for four years at K-Way.
“We need and want to keep the work in South Africa. If this works well then we are on our way of claiming back the industry, which had been taken over by the Chinese,” said Willemse.
Prestige owner Graham Choice said: “The cluster that we have joined, which includes others like Pep and Truworths, is very successful and the world-class manufacturing elements that Paul has put in place are working extremely well.”
Tony Ehrenreich, the provincial secretary of Cosatu, said: “Cosatu is pleased to hear about the turnaround in the fortunes of the clothing industry.
“We want to thank national government for the measures they have implemented to facilitate this turnaround.”