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Foschini's example may not save the local clothing industry

BDLive reports that Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has congratulated fashion retailer The Foschini Group for its efforts to support local manufacturing. In January, Foschini bought local manufacturer Prestige Clothing with which it had a relationship going back 20 years. Prestige has factories in Cape Town and Caledon and employs 800 people.
Foschini's head of merchandise procurement Selwyn Eagle, 54, who is the man widely credited for the company's support for local manufacturers, says that, far from retrenching to cut costs, they may hire another 300. With more than 1400 stores to supply they're not going to be short of work. "It makes good business sense for us," he says, "we bought them as an initiative to speed everything up."

However, Eagle says Foschini's efforts may not be enough to save the local clothing industry if the government does not crack down on illegal imports from China. "The biggest problem by far is illegally imported and under-invoiced goods that come in and do not pay duty". After years of government inaction, the SA Revenue Service has "finally" started taking some initiatives, he tells BDLive, "but they're just starting to touch the surface. The problem is massive and it is killing the whole industry."

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