Hammarsdale textile boost

2010-09-24 00:00

THE official launch of a R150-million non-woven textiles plant in Hammarsdale this week illustrates that despite intense competition from the East, lucrative niche opportunities in the South African textiles industry still exist.

The plant, which has created about 40 new jobs and many more indirect economic opportunities, is a joint venture between the Danish textiles giant, Fibertex, South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and a South African company, Safyr. Several other stakeholders, including the Danish government’s investment fund, made the deal possible.

The deal has been on the cards for about three years.

The factory aims to replace 40% of the imports entering South Africa.

It produces a range of non-woven textile products, which are used in the construction industry, automotive sector, road construction, landfill sites and in hydraulic works.

The brand-new plant boasts specialised equipment and has been described as the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

The IDC’s chief risk officer, Gerrit van Wyk, and a deal maker at the IDC, Kgampi Bapela, told The Witness that the IDC is a major shareholder in Safyr, a relationship that has seen the IDC invest R200 million in the company over two decades.

Fibertex of Denmark is a non-woven geotextile manufacturing giant.

Bapela said Safyr, which owns a fibre plant and a rug manufacturing business, was searching for vertical integration options.

The Hammarsdale plant also aims to export 50% of the products at a later stage.

Bapela said that the joint venture has created direct and indirect benefits for the local community, while also stimulating industrial development and localisation.

He added that Fibertex’s technology and skills were essential in ensuring that the project was viable.

“The advantage that this plant has is that this field is highly specialised. Furthermore, the products made here are very bulky and cannot be easily brought into the country.”

The plant, which has a capacity of 7 000 tons a year will be able to meet the demand of customers across Africa.

Van Wyk stressed that the plant is an ideal example of the government’s industrial policy action plan.

Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, who officially opened the plant, stressed that KwaZulu-Natal must revive its industrial sector.

“We must maintain our competitive edge in manufacturing. The role of development finance institutions and state-owned enterprises are critical in this regard.

“We must ensure that we do not become a consumption-driven economy,” he added.

Fibertex said the annual turnover of the South African company is expected to be between R75 million and R100 million, with decent profit expected in the coming years.

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