Prince Sunduzani, Business Reporter
THE Bulawayo leather cluster shoe factory has started operating, with a new product line expected to hit the market soon.
Cluster secretary, Mr Fungai Zvinondiramba, said they were in talks with a number of dealers, including Carousel, to have their leather sneakers on the shelves as soon as possible.
The factory, with a capacity to produce about 158 400 pairs of shoes annually, started operating this week after workers underwent specialised training conducted by a shoe manufacturing expert brought in by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
They have already started working on orders for other local dealers as they seek to diversify their product range.
“The factory is now operational and on Monday we started doing the first set of shoes. Last week we underwent training for some fashion oriented shoe. So we have a product that has come out of that training, a leather sneaker. We are still trying to profile a market that we can pitch to,” said Mr Zvinondiramba.
“We are in talks with Carousel in connection with the product. We have a number of products that we are also working on including an order that we have with a local dealer. Going forward when we have properly established the shoe manufacturing business we can then venture into other products like handbags, belts, and satchels.”
Equipment for the new factory was provided by Comesa and it arrived in the country last October. Last year, Comesa handed over to Government leather processing equipment worth about $125 000 for small to medium enterprises in the leather sector in Bulawayo.
The machinery included a skiving machine, sole processing machine, a post machine, belt aging machine, arm machine, shoe lasts, pliers and toe lasting machine. Recently, leather industry players called for increased investment towards strengthening the livestock and leather value chain. This, they said, will grow the leather industry and ensure that leather industry players have a huge stake in the domestic market as well as capacity to compete on the global market.
They also called for recapitalisation of the Leather Institute of Zimbabwe (LIZ) to bridge the skills gap and revive the country’s leather industry. The Leather Institute of Zimbabwe was formed to provide the necessary skills and expertise that will support the country’s leather industry through training, research and identification of markets.