Chatsworth shoemaker eyes export market

13 March 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201913880

Commerce & Trade
Import / Export

ALLIMOR Footwear, a KwaZulu-Natal company that manufactures women’s footwear for the mass market has survived tough economic conditions and is targeting the export market.

The family business in Chatsworth, Durban, was started in 1991 by Morris Marimuthoo, a former boiler maker turned professional seamstress and businessman.

Initially, the small factory produced approximately 1000 pairs of shoes a day. With the growth of the business over the last 28 years, it now manufactures more than 6,000 pairs of shoes a day.

Marimuthoo said while the company was able to grow, it was not without obstacles ranging from increased footwear imports from China to the tough local economic conditions.

The company, which employs 196 people of which 95% are women, already supplies local chain stores and mini chains. Plans are afoot to export to the rest of Southern Africa.

“Our intention is to broaden our footwear range to include high-end ladies fashion footwear for the niche market,” said Marimothoo.

According to the South African Footwear and Leather Export Council, South African footwear exports grew by 13% from 4.31 million pairs (2016) to 4.88 million pairs in 2017. The African continent is South Africa’s major export destination.

“While being ideal for the sourcing of raw materials and local customers in KZN, the Allimor Footwear factory in Chatsworth could not be stretched beyond the current capacity. Hence there was a need to find additional premises,” said Marimothoo.

In an effort, to grow the business three years ago, Marimuthoo approached the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) for R12,2 million finance to expand Alimor Footwear to Ladysmith.

“This factory predominantly services the Gauteng market and is ideal for sourcing labour due to high level of unemployment in the Ezakheni Area of Ladysmith,” said Marimuthoo.

Commenting on the business, NEF Head of Marketing and Communication Moemise Motsepe said the fund’s investment in the Ladysmith factory has resulted in the business being able to secure and service more orders in addition to the capacity of the Durban factory.

“The NEF invests significant time, energy and intellectual capital in seeking to understand and impact on the various sinews of its mandate, including clinical analysis of the different sectors of the economy.

“A properly resourced NEF, therefore, will have the necessary means and the capacity to respond to the huge demand for business funding among black people,” said Motsepe.

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