ZIMBABWE’S leather industry is currently producing 1,8 million pairs of shoes per year, down 90% compared to what it used to produce during its heyday, an official has revealed.
Giving his presentation during the Bulawayo special economic zones breakfast meeting organised by Alpha Media Holdings and Bulawayo City Council on Wednesday, Leather Institute of Zimbabwe board chairman, Cornelio Sunduza, said the sector was almost grounded.
He said during its heyday, the leather sector in Zimbabwe used to manufacture, under contract, most of the brands such as Nike, Adidas, Grasshoppers, Puma, among others.
“During that time Zimbabwe used to employ 25 000 people and producing about 18 million of pairs of shoes and the greatest cluster was in Bulawayo and because of the challenges that we know, we are down to about 1,8 million pairs now and that gap is the opportunity that needs to be refilled,” Sunduza said.
“The infrastructure still exists but due to low uptake in terms of local market, there is no production. We are actually down to about 5 to 10% capacity utilisation.”
He said the demise of Cold Storage Company (CSC) also spelt doom on them as the meat processor used to be the central collector of hides and grading and distribution of hides into the leather industry.
“For us the revival of CSC is very central to the revival of leather industry because CSC has the network to reach out even to rural communities in terms of collection of hides and it has the capacity top grade hides that will give us the quality that we require to manufacture quality shoes,” Sunduza said adding the industry still has capacity to export to the region.
“We need to revive the sector. We need to go from the 1,8 million to the 18 million plus because the population has grown but our biggest advantage is because of our positioning in Bulawayo, the network in the Sadc region, we are exposed to a 367 million market in Sadc region…”