Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
BULAWAYO-based textile company, Zimbabwe Hosiery says it is focused on consolidating its exports by cultivating and maintaining new and existing markets in the region.
The firm’s production manager Mr Stephen Phiri said this in an interview on the sidelines of a tour of the manufacturing concern by Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi on Tuesday.
“We have managed to create export lines at a time when the banks were not giving us any forex and because of that we were able to bring in some forex even though not at the level we want, but we made sure that we find the lines of exports,” he said.
The company, which manufactures mutton cloth, men, ladies and children’s socks, school socks and ladies’ pantihose is presently exporting to South Africa and Malawi.
“We are trying to find another export market in Botswana where Bata will need a lot of our socks there.
This is something that we are trying to create so that we establish more markets in foreign lands.
“And if we can export at least half of our production, it means all our operational costs will be taken care of and we’ll have a little bit of extras which will also allow us to be able to plan,” said Mr Phiri.
Presently, he said Zimbabwe Hosiery is exporting about 20 percent of their production.
The textile concern produces about 30 tonnes of mutton cloth per month of which 12 tonnes were being exported.
“We can produce 80 000 pairs of socks and we are only exporting about 12 000 pairs a month and obviously that would be good if we can export between 30 000 and 40 000 pairs a month,” he said.
ZimHosiery is operating at 60 percent capacity utilisation while employing 84 people. When operating at full throttle, the firm has a potential to employ 900 people.
“In terms of jobs, at the moment we have got 84 people but we have a potential to increase our numbers. We used to have 900 people running three shifts with each having 300 people,” said Mr Phiri.
“As long as we have got the material and exporting as well as getting the support in terms of foreign currency, we have the potential to employ more people.”
Mr Phiri said they stopped running three shifts before 2009 but were now back on three shifts although they ran for a month and would occasionally stop because of raw material shortage.
“It’s actually better to run shifts because most of these machines run 24 hours but if you stop them they will give you problems when switching them on again,” he said.
Mr Phiri said their major challenge was access to foreign currency to procure raw materials.
During the tour, the managing director Mr Peter Edwards also told Deputy Minister Modi that foreign currency was the major challenge stifling realisation of the company’s full potential.