Zimbabwe’s largest shoe manufacturer, Bata Shoe Company has been forced to import textile from Kenya as the local textile sector remains subdued.
A poor cotton season which saw the country managing to harvest about 30 000 tonnes of the white gold, the lowest since independence, has had a debilitating effect on the cotton industry value chain.
This has resulted in the country’s largest textile manufacturer Zimbabwe Spinners and Weavers downsizing its operations and failing to meet local demand for textiles.
Bata managing director Mr Ehsan Zaman told Business Chronicle that in light of the shortage of textiles, the company is importing textile from Kenya.
He said the development has pushed the cost of production up.
Said Mr Zaman: “We are not getting consistent supplies of textiles for our factory and we employ for our canvass factory around 250 workers. So this is very sensitive for us and therefore we applied to Government for permission to import specific quantity and the response was positive.
The cost of doing business in the country is already high and by importing from Kenya it becomes even higher. We would therefore prefer to buy locally to be competitive and get better quality materials,” he added.
Mr Zaman said importing textiles might have a negative impact on the company’s exports mainly in the region.
The Gweru-based shoe manufacturer exports some of its products such as tennis shoes to Zambia, Malawi and Botswana.
Bata requires 700 000 square metres of textile annually to satisfy demand for its canvas factory.
The shortage of textiles comes at a time when the company has increased capacity utilisation to more than 90 percent compared to the manufacturing sector’s average of 47,4 percent.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said his ministry was working hand in hand with other ministries to ensure raw materials that can be sourced locally are availed to companies.
“The issue of the cotton industry and the value chain is of utmost importance to us and hence the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has started distributing cotton inputs so that we increase local production for the benefit of industry,” he said