James North projects 60% growth

JAMES North Zimbabwe, the largest producer of industrial protective wear and tarpaulins, projects output to increase well above 60% in 2018, buoyed by increased demand from the formal sector, currently in progressive recovery.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

The company specialises in protective gloves and shoes and mainly serves manufacturing, agriculture and mining sectors. It also exports to neighbouring Mozambique and Malawi as well as Kenya and Rwanda.

Managing director Sifelani Jabangwe, in an interview NewsDay, said the company expected increased orders from the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, both of which have a positive growth outlook.

“In 2018 we are looking to have our output well above 60% to 70%,” Jabangwe said.

“We produce industrial protective clothing, so as companies have been turning around we have had demand for our products increasing. We are the only manufacturer of industrial raincoats.

“Agriculture has been growing and the demand for our products has been growing as well. Some imported products fail. Our products are quality. This has helped to keep the demand for our products growing.

“So this is our reason really to get involved in the key economic development agenda because we serve various sectors, from manufacturing to agriculture, across the board. So as those sectors recover, the demand for the personal protective equipment that we supply and other protective covering solutions have actually been increasing.”

Agriculture has recovered strongly in the last two seasons, led by maize, tobacco, cotton and wheat, and buttressed by Command Agriculture, a subsidy scheme introduced by government in 2016.

Capacity utilisation in the manufacturing is expected to grow between 4,5% and 6% this year, a significant recovery from last year when it dipped 2.3%.

Jabangwe said James North had started refurbishing parts of its plants and expected to spend about $60 000 to $100 000 on the retooling, which will cover sewing machines and other equipment.

The growth prospects could also see employment numbers improving. The company currently employs about 150 people, down from 400 workers 15 years ago.

“We have already started on some of the retooling activities,” Jabangwe said.

“So already we have started retooling parts of our plants. For us, we looking at about $60 000 to $100 000 to retool … we have had an increase in terms of demand for our tarpaulins. So we are looking to invest that much in that area.”

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