Rag trade upswing

2015-05-05 06:00

Locally made, internationally sold. That’s what a new deal between Stenströms and House of Monatic (HOM) in Salt River will equate to.

While they would not be drawn on the value of the deal, the agreement between the 150-year-old Stenströms, a Swedish high-end shirt manufacturer, and Brimstone, which owns HOM, effectively secures at least 10 jobs.

This in itself may not make an overnight dent in job security for the thousands of factory workers left unemployed during the Cape Town rag trade bust.

However, the jobs are expected to incrementally increase as markets expand.

The deal is only for a year, but is open to extension, and will see 10 000 shirts made.

This is set to double in two year’s time.

HOM scooped the deal after manufacturing was moved from Europe and Mauritius.

According to Stenströms managing director and CEO Anders Bengtsson, moving production to South Africa will create between eight and 10 new jobs.

This number is set to increase as the brand grows.

Stenströms is also considering handing over a contract to produce women’s blouses. The manufacturers will use fine fabrics from Europe selected by Stenströms.

The boost to HOM has not only brought new jobs, managing director Mike Maurer says.

A planned R3m investment, funded by the Productivity Incentive Scheme of the DTI will add to the manufacturing quality and productivity of the company, he says.

“With the proliferation of foreign retailers opening up in South Africa, none of which source any local production, it is encouraging to see that Stenströms takes a different view,” he says.

HOM floor manager Doreen Carollisen says the deal has also seen a skills trade between the two companies.

“One of the challenges we’ve had to overcome is how they do things differently. This transfer of skills can now be used to make other brands,” she says.

But the contract was too big for staff to not take on the challenge, says machinist Baliswa Makabana.

“We’ve had a shortage of orders, so even though this new style seems difficult, I told myself that I have to make it,” explains Makabana.

“Because we can’t lose orders, we’ve adapted to the new style. It’s a very neat way of working, and it has been very interesting to learn,” she says.

HOM has also maintained stable employment levels over the last few years and has increased their training school capacity to ensure a steady flow of new entrants, Maurer adds.

Bengtsson says the company is following the global trend of making products last, making them in a sustainable way and producing them locally close to the consumer.

“At the same time, we would be boosting the South African clothing industry and creating job opportunities in this industry which has been under siege for a number of years,” he says.

“Our first consignment made by House of Monatic was well-received when it was delivered recently to Stuttafords, our sole distributor.”

Stenströms products are available in more than 20 countries, and Bengtsson hopes the partnership will allow expansion across the continent.

“With South Africa being the gateway to Africa, we are hoping we can explore the possibilities with House of Monatic,” he says.

“As we see it, the possibilities are not only a more affordable and sustainable production. It could also lead to a closer cooperation in a number of aspects of the business, leading to a win-win situation for both organisations and the local clothing industry.”

And seeing HOM handiwork on the streets of South Africa is in itself a reward, Carollisen says. “We manufacture top of the range shirts, and Stenströms is just the cherry on the top. We’re very proud of what we can produce,” she says

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