Pick n Pay Clothing is aiming to source 60% of its products locally within the next five years, but an industry-wide history of cheap imports from China decimated South Africa's once-thriving textile sector and left a big gap in manufacturing capacity, which won't be filled overnight.
Sept. 3, 2022
LUKE DANIEL, BUSINESS INSIDER SA
3 min read
Pick n Pay Clothing aims for 60% local by 2028
Pick n Pay Clothing aims for 60% local by 2028 – years of cheap Chinese imports make that tough (Foto: East Rand Mall)
- One of these major retailers, Pick n Pay Clothing, is aiming to source 60% of its items locally by 2028 and has already massively decreased its reliance on imports over the past three years.
- But reaching these proudly South African targets won't be easy, as local capacity still has a lot of catching up to do.
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businesses across the cut, make and trim (CMT) value chain to closure.
Since then, consumers have become more conscious about where and how the products they buy are sourced. This extends to Clothing, with major retailers, in line with the Master Plan, committing to sourcing 65% of their goods from local producers by 2030.
Pick n Pay Clothing is one of these retailers looking to minimise their reliance on imports. Just before the launch of the R-CTFL Master Plan in 2019, Pick n Pay Clothing was sourcing 28% of its products locally. Within three years, this grew to more than 40%, according to Hazel Pillay, general manager for Pick n Pay Clothing, who spoke to Business Insider SA at the launch of a new range on August 1.
"Our intention is to go up to 60% within the next five years if there's a lot less risk within the country, which is really hard to predict," explained Pillay.
"Maybe that number could [even] be more than 60% but based on what has transpired over the past two years and then the environmental issues such as flooding also slowed down local production last year… it's almost risky to bring the whole 100% locally."
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And while the Covid-19 pandemic, flooding in KwaZulu-Natal, and even July's civil unrest seriously dented South Africa's capacity to produce, legacy issues emanating from a time when retailers imported most, if not all, their items from China also still need to be rectified.
"There was a local industry, but certainly, at that point [in the early 2000s], China was coming into play, so that's probably where the conflict did happen and the start of the demise of local manufacturing," said Pillay.
"And all of that led to a reduction in the availability of mills, a reduction in skills, and waste in terms of machinery… people didn't really know what to do with it. Fasttrack to now, because of what happened, you're finding some levels of setback in innovation, etcetera, and now we're trying to invest again and recover."
"To get to that 60% is still very challenging."
And while achieving these locally sourced goals won't be easy, Pick n Pay Clothing's sales prove that proudly South African items are in demand. Pick n Pay Clothing reported a 21% increase in sales in 2021, gaining market share across several women, men and childrenswear categories. Pick n Pay's localisation initiative has also created more than 700 jobs across the value chain over the past two years.
Over the next year, Pick n Pay Clothing will be given more space within supermarkets, with an additional 73 new store openings planned.
"As we drive growth in our clothing division, we want to empower local suppliers along the way. This will, in turn, help us support the local economy with great job opportunities," added Pillay in a statement on Thursday.