Through TFG’s involvement with Proudly SA, a connection was made with St Vincent School of the Deaf.
- TGF’s newly launched Prestige Clothing factory in Johannesburg has been specially designed for a hearing-impaired workforce.
- The first group of former learners at St Vincent’s School of the Deaf will complete their vocational training at the factory this month and another group will complete theirs next year.
- Over the past five years, TFG has worked with government to strategically create a diversified and agile local supply chain to reduce reliance on China and other international suppliers.
Fashion and lifestyle retailer TFG officially opened its latest Prestige Clothing factory in Johannesburg, which has been specially designed for a hearing-impaired workforce.
Through TFG’s involvement with Proudly SA, a connection was made with St Vincent School of the Deaf in 2019. The school had many learners completing their education, but who were then unable to find jobs. TFG, therefore, partnered with the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA and the Thandeka Vocational Education Trust to train school leavers from St Vincent’s. TFG’s Prestige Clothing, Bidvest and Berzacks partnered to provide a modern working environment.
The first intake of 23 learners will complete a manufacturing learnership in October 2021. An additional 24 learners will complete their learnership in 2022 and a third group might be enrolled next year. So far this year, TFG appointed more than 100 unemployed people with disabilities into learnerships across the business.
It forms part of TFG’s drive for job creation and growing local manufacturing. The newly launched factory is one of five Prestige Clothing factories, making it the largest local apparel manufacturer in SA, and with a total of 2 470 permanent employees.
Over the past five years, TFG has worked with government to strategically create a diversified and agile local supply chain to reduce reliance on China and other international suppliers and increase locally manufactured products for its retail brands.
Five years ago, for example, more than 80% of all TFG merchandise came from the East. Currently, locally manufactured textiles supply 37% and this is expected to increase over the next few years. “Many people living with disabilities still face barriers when it comes to employment opportunities. Upskilling and creating local employment for them was a particular focus area for TFG [Africa] over the last few years,” Graham Choice, managing director of TFG Merchandise Supply Chain, said in a statement regarding the newly launched factory in Johannesburg.
Due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumers, retail sales in the SA clothing and textile industry fell 6.9% overall during 2020, according to Stats SA. The Retail Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather Master Plan, which was signed by government and local retailers in 2019, is one way government is trying to give local manufacturers a leg up.
Its implementation kicked off in 2020, and it aims to increase the proportion of locally manufactured products sold in-store from 44% (in 2018) to 65% by 2030. Manufacturers have committed to ramp up productivity and invest in production, while organised labour has agreed to adaptable working hours.
TFG, for example, introduced a “quick-response” retail model that would allow for popular clothing items to be made or adjusted quickly in-season.
Another problem faced by the local clothing manufacturing industry is that of clothing illicitly brought into the country. Imported clothing items are, for example, declared at a much lower value than their production value at source. This has the impact of reducing tax receipts for the fiscus and unfairly pricing imported goods below the local production cost, thereby driving out the local industry.
It is estimated that in 2019, clothing with an export value of R35.9 billion was imported into South Africa at a declared cost of R27.8 billion – an under-declaration of 23%.