Sikhulekelani Moyo, business journalist
Textile company BULAWAYO, National Blankets Limited, which recently resumed operations after years of closure, says it is ready to increase production under a renewed business model and would play its role in import substitution and creation of added value.
The company came out of court management last year after surviving liquidation after shareholders paid all creditors their dues, which amounted to millions of dollars.
The company is now “on the rebound and we are out of the woods,” said Business Development Director Sheppard Nyambira, while briefing the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs responsible for monitoring and implementation. , Dr Joram Gumbo, during a visit to the company yesterday.
He said relaunching national coverage was an important step for Bulawayo, which had undergone massive deindustrialization in recent years.
âThe resurrection of national coverage is expected to give new impetus to the Bulawayo community and the nation as a whole through job creation, import substitution and value addition,â Nyambira said.
“Through massive product re-engineering, we have renamed our products to ensure they meet the ever-changing needs of the market.”
At present, the company operates with a workforce of 30 with a production target of over 1.5 million cover units per year, Mr. Nyambira said.
He said the company has since purchased state-of-the-art machinery, “perhaps the best in the Sadc region” and that it has adopted new technologies in its operations, which will allow the company to produce a range of products in line with global standards. class standards.
âOur products range from household blankets, hotel blankets, school blankets, hospital blankets and custom corporate blankets,â Mr. Nyambira said.
âWe are also introducing outdoor blankets as well as fashion products like the poncho.
âOur factory outlet is open to individuals and we are organizing a back-to-school promotion on school blankets. Our goal in the future is to produce continuously and around the clock.
The company, however, asked for increased government support to deal with the constraints of the business environment and the unfavorable dynamics of market control. This includes support in resolving a legacy dispute with Zimra over tax issues, supply delays as well as amortization of cheap imports.
âYou will however find that during the initial stages of relaunching the business, we may experience intermittent shutdowns in our production section due to the long lead time of approximately 60 days,â said Mr. Nyambira.
âThis is because our raw materials, which are synthetic in nature, come from Europe and Asia.
The company also called for tighter import control regulations, citing the need to protect the company from the influx of cheap products.
âOn paper, we are protected by law but the problem of smuggling goods into the country has caused demand for local products to drop,â Nyambira said.
Asked about capital funding and whether the business had access to loans, he said in recent years that the loans given to the business were very low and could not support the business.
âWe once received a loan of US $ 500,000 from a local bank, but the money failed to strengthen the business. Therefore, it has become difficult to repay the loan, but for now the business needs US $ 1.5 million and the amount will be able to revitalize the business and the repayment will not be a challenge. âMr. Nyambira said.
National Blankets was placed under receivership in 2012 over viability concerns and the Bulawayo High Court subsequently issued an interim order in 2019 ordering the company to be liquidated.
This was after the court was satisfied that the business could not continue to operate normally due to severe financial constraints it was facing at the time.
At its peak, National Blankets was one of the market leaders in blanket manufacturing, with a 70 percent domestic market share and a major exporter of textile products to the Sadc region.
It also employed more than 5,000 workers who lost their jobs in its collapse. – @ SikhulekelaniM1