Friday, September 9, 2011

South Africa : Rags to riches story

Hottest children's clothing brands, Naartjie and Keedo began in the early 1990s and both companies are thriving and expanding while most of the country's clothing sector struggles for survival as cheap Chinese imports swamp the market.

Naartjie owns 15 stores in the major centres including three factory shops and 20 stores in the US.

Keedo, owns seven retail stores locally and one in Switzerland has export partners in the US and a website for online sales and will launch a UK website to make further inroads in the foreign market next month.

Ann Eels started Naartjie and Nelia Schutte with Keedo, who hated the synthetic fabrics and mediocre design of children's clothing, got their sewing machines out, tapped into their creative minds and began churning out earthy cotton outfits for their little ones.

In Cape Town dressed in stylish and comfortable clothing, the young ones became their marketing agents.

Parents who spotted children’s wanted the same garments for their own children wanting clean and fun lines.

Naartjie and Keedo are seen as sterling examples in the local clothing sector as against the gloomy scenario of an industry that has lost more than 65000 jobs in the past two years as factories have shut down and retrenchments have soared.

Their original designs, high-quality fabric and manufacturing, good financial management and a loyal workforce, have paid off.

Both self-starters have won awards over the years and have been lauded by the SA Clothing & Textile Workers' Union, which is leading the drive to impose quotas on Chinese imports.

Government has given the clothing industry some breathing space by delaying the imposition of quotas on Chinese imports until January.

This will enable local retailers to reduce their reliance on goods from China, Malaysia, India and Vietnam and gradually reassign orders to local clothing manufacturers.


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