IN the midst of cries over de-industrialisation in Bulawayo, once the hub of economic activities in the country, there is a good story taking shape at Archer Clothing Manufacturers.
While the country’s businesses are generally experiencing challenges as the country embarks on a change-over from the old economy to the new economy, which is largely anchored on agriculture, natural resources, the Small to Medium Enterprises and the informal sector, there are some companies that have managed to weather the storm and are testimony that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Such companies are testimony that Zimbabwe is still an ideal place for business and worthy of investment, local and foreign.
We reported last week that the Bulawayo textile company, Archer Clothing Manufacturers has re-employed part of the workforce it retrenched last year buoyed by a surge in exports. Archer Clothing managing director Mr Jeremy Youmans said increased production capacity has prompted the company to augment its workforce.
“We have been rebuilding the production at Archer this year. So far we have employed 236 people this year and this takes the total employment in the clothing factory there to 538,” he said.
In July last year the company was forced to retrench 400 of its 631 workers and reduced its working days from five to four a week as its business fortunes continued to slide due to a drop in local orders and export competitiveness which had constrained its ability to grow export orders.
After creditors of Archer Clothing Manufacturers approved its take-over by Harare-based Paramount Garments in 2015, saving it from liquidation, the company had projected to employ 850 workers by year 2016. Mr Youmans said the company would further employ more people at its leather products factory. Archer Clothing ventured into leather production as part of a diversification strategy aimed at expanding its business.
The company has also set sights at increasing its sewing lines to 19 before the end of this year.
“We are developing customers in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Tanzania and see these as good opportunities. Recently we have had strong interest from South Africa for the leatherwear we are producing in Bulawayo, hence the need to grow its capacity,” said Mr Youmans.
Affirmative Action Group (AAG) national vice-president Mr Sam Ncube expressed satisfaction at the rate at which Archer Clothing has managed to turn around its fortunes and further hinted that the economic empowerment pressure group played a significant part in preventing Archer Clothing from being liquidated.
The Government has also been busy coming up with policies to promote and protect local industries and one of the initiatives were to restrict certain imports so as to protect local industries and also coming with instruments to make sure that imports into the country are of quality standards, and not just cheap and poor quality products meant to flood the market.