TFG's Prestige clothing leads the way as largest local apparel manufacturer in South Africa
Leading fashion and lifestyle retailer, TFG's strategic shift to swim against the tide by substantially investing in local manufacturing has already paid off. According to SACTWU's Etienne Vlok the retailer is now the largest local apparel manufacturer in South Africa.
Five years ago, up to 80% of all TFG merchandise came from the East; today locally manufactured textiles have grown to a meaningful 37% and this will increase exponentially over the next few years.
“TFG’s investment in local manufacturing confirms localisation is a viable strategy to fight unemployment. The retailer’s import replacement will significantly increase TFG's local production, resulting in more local jobs and upskilling. Unusually for South African retailers, TFG is creating thousands of jobs within its in-house manufacturing base,” said Vlok.
Over the past five years, TFG has worked with the South African government, the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition (DTIC) especially, to strategically create a diversified and agile local supply chain. This investment reduced its reliance on China and other international suppliers. This focused strategy has led to an increase in the contribution of locally manufactured products for their retail brands.
Evidence of this strategy can be seen in the retailer’s expansion of their Prestige Maitland and Caledon factories. Together with the launch of three additional hubs they are collectively projected to employ 5000 workers by 2026.
Five manufacturing hubs and growing
Prestige Clothing (Pty) according to the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Industry employed 2470 permanent employees, as at 31 July 2021.
The factories in Maitland and Caledon launched with just 10 and six employees respectively. “These numbers are impressive for two factories. Prestige (Maitland) started in 1989 and now specialises in the manufacturing of ladies’ outerwear and Prestige (Caledon) started in 2008 and now focuses on the manufacturing of T-shirts and related products. By the end of this financial year, the Prestige Caledon factory will employ more than 700 workers and over 1000 employees in three years. This has had a major positive impact on Caledon and on its community,” said Graham Choice, MD TFG Merchandise Supply Chain.
On 1 April 2021, Prestige (Epping) was formed, which was previously made up of the ex- Seardel companies of Monviso, Bibette, Bonwit (then called TCI Apparel). It was acquired by Prestige clothing, to produce TFG’s formalwear apparel for both men’s and ladies. Additionally, the acquisition from Brimstone of the House of Monatic manufacturing unit and their assimilation into the Prestige Epping factory will arguably lead to the “rejuvenation by TFG of this highly skilled capability that would have otherwise been lost to the SA Clothing industry.
Prestige (Durban) launched on 1 May 2021 after TFG acquired TCI Mobeni. Together with TFG’s newly acquired assets from Playtex, this factory is intended to become the intimate wear and active sportswear manufacturing hub for the group.
In addition, Prestige clothing’s learnership programme will produce 288 graduates by the end of February 2022. Upon completion of this Learnership Programme these learners will be considered for permanent employment at TFG. This is likely to continue for a good few more years as these four hubs have the capability to grow to between 1100 - 1500 employees each, said Choice.
“The most unique hub is certainly the Prestige Johannesburg facility. We have been engaging with St Vincent School of the Deaf since 2019. The school had talented learners but on graduating or leaving school are unable to find jobs. TFG worked with the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) SETA to upskill and train the St Vincent School of the Deaf graduates. The contributions from Bidvest Industrial and (FP&M), under the leadership of CEO Felleng Yende, has undoubtedly played a significant role in the successful launch of this facility.
The workplace experiential training takes place at the Prestige (Johannesburg) facility, providing employment in this first of two intakes to 49 hearing impaired trainees. These employees are on a journey to receive a NQF2 learnership on completion.
All Prestige clothing manufacturing hubs have implemented the Quick Response Manufacturing methodology. This innovation uses best of class manufacturing technology to create shorter lead times and is a strategic advantage for the Group.
A recent success story was the production of 60% of The Fix brand merchandise made locally. The FIX “Changes*” range is another example of TFG’s Quick Response Manufacturing innovation. The 100% sustainable range is locally designed and manufactured by Prestige Caledon, where each garment is made up of 40% recycled polyester chips and 60% fabric waste.