14 December 2023

From the Desk of Executive
Director, Nerisha Jairaj

Reflecting on the Past Quarter: A Year of Resilience and Triumph. Greetings, valued members! As we navigate the final stretch of a challenging year, we stand united in our resilience and triumphs. Together, we weathered the storms and embraced growth amidst uncertainty. Now, as we bid farewell to the past quarter, let’s celebrate our collective achievements and anticipate the fresh opportunities that the New Year holds.

Wishing you all a joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year! May your holidays be filled with warmth, rest, and moments of joy. Thank you for your unwavering commitment and hard work throughout the year. Here’s to a well-deserved rest and a prosperous year ahead. Read on for a recap of our journey and a glimpse into the exciting prospects that await us in the coming year

Best regards,
Nerisha Jairaj Executive Director, SAFLEC

Table of Content

Topic 1:

It is essential to underscore the critical importance of extending AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) beyond 2025, particularly for South Africa’s exports. AGOA currently grants 35 qualifying Sub-Saharan countries the opportunity to export 1,835 tariff lines duty-free, facilitating access to a significant consumer market in the US. The theme of this year’s Forum, ‘Partnering to Build a Resilient, Sustainable, and Inclusive AGOA to Support Economic Development, Industrialization, and Quality Job Creation,’ highlighted the pivotal role AGOA plays in shaping the future of South Africa’s export landscape.

Moreover, AGOA’s extension presents notable advantages for South Africa. The renewal ensures the continuation of duty-free exports, promoting market access and enhancing the competitiveness of South African goods in the US market. This extension not only sustains economic growth but also fosters an environment conducive to job creation and industrial development. In addition, the recent AGOA Forum was complemented by a Made in Africa expo, strategically designed to attract exhibitors from all 35 AGOA countries.

The primary goal was to create a platform for information sharing and product showcasing, fostering collaboration and trade opportunities within the AGOA community. Despite the challenging race to the finish line, characterized by registration lines lasting up to about three hours, the event proved worthwhile, yielding abundant networking opportunities and valuable connections. Notably, the Dick Whittington stand received a personal visit from the State President, Cyril Ramaphosa, highlighting the significance and impact of AGOA on South Africa’s trade relations.

Dubai Trade Event

This year, ten South African manufacturers received support for market access opportunities through a trade event in Dubai. The successful event garnered the presence of the Minister of Trade in Dubai, who personally engaged with Nerisha Jairaj to explore optimal ways to aid South African manufacturers in entering the UAE market. Among the exhibiting manufacturers, one successfully negotiated an impressive deal and is currently in discussions to potentially supply bags for the First Class Cabin on Emirates Airlines.

Australia Trade Fair

Through SAFLEC negotiations for the dtic National Pavilion at the Footwear and Leather Show in Australia, 16 manufacturers seized an outstanding opportunity to showcase their products. While experiencing slightly slower foot traffic compared to the previous year, the event still delivered exceptional results. Winning the award for the best-designed stand for two consecutive years significantly contributes to our strategic positioning.

Manufacturers shared encouraging feedback, reporting positive sales outcomes. Ongoing discussions are underway for sampling, reflecting the promising potential for further collaboration and market expansion. As we continue to build on our achievements, we are optimistic about the future growth and opportunities that lie ahead in the dynamic landscape of the footwear and leather industry.

New York

This boutique-styled event, characterized by exhibitions in hotel rooms, provided a platform for 10 South African manufacturers to showcase their capabilities. To participate in this event, exhibitors need to set up meetings in advance through three distinct avenues. The first involves contacting buyers from a provided leads list. The second relies on connections forged between the exhibitor and the show organizer, who offers assistance with information and connections. Lastly, the exhibitor is linked with the SA Embassy in New York, responsible for aiding exporters in arranging B2B meetings amidst their diverse tasks.

The success of the show hinges on the proactive efforts of the exporter supported by SAFLEC to set up these meetings, often involving engagements with existing buyers. This event facilitates invaluable face-to-face interactions, providing a platform to finalize deals, secure additional orders, and connect with new buyers. A highlight of this year was the prospect of a substantial order—7000 pairs per month—for one of our footwear manufacturers, marking an exciting inaugural deal. Stay tuned for more updates on this promising development. 

Topic 2:
Productivity SA WPC 25th Anniversary

Just under a month ago, members of Productivity SA, along with fellow stakeholders, one of which was SAFLEC, team members from The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, and clients spanning over the past two decades, gathered to mark the 25th anniversary of the Workplace Challenge (WPC) Programme.

This milestone provides an opportune moment for reflection, inviting all stakeholders to consider the WPC’s journey leading up to the present and recognize the invaluable contributions made by various partners that have contributed to its success.

The occasion was undeniably momentous for all involved. Having collaborated with passionate entrepreneurs, business professionals, analysts, strategists, productivity practitioners, and industry experts over the years, we reflected on how we’ve empowered local businesses to operate at their fullest potential through panel discussions and presentations/ One of the panel discussions involved Ashely Benjamin of NULAW, a renown professor from UKZN and Nerisha Jairaj of SAFLEC.

Topic 3:
eThekwini EDGE Export Opportunities Seminar

Forging a strategic partnership with the city has opened a plethora of opportunities for manufacturers in eThekwini. Among these opportunities was a highly informative export seminar that provided invaluable insights. Martin Cameron of Trade Advisory took the stage, delivering a comprehensive statistical overview encompassing multifaceted opportunities. He went on to conduct a thorough SWOT analysis, offering an insightful interpretation of the current landscape.

In addition, Nerisha Jairaj played a pivotal role in the seminar, providing her expert perspective on exports within the context of the footwear and leather industry. Her presentation delved into the dynamic shifts in trends and the evolving patterns of global consumer buying behaviour, offering a nuanced understanding of the complexities and opportunities that exist in the export arena.

Topic 4:
WORLD NEWS (As per World Footwear News)

Austria and Germany continue to see a wave of insolvencies and closures.

Richter Schuhe, Europe’s oldest children’s shoemaker, and fashion retail chain Aachener have filed for bankruptcy. Deichmann to close its My Shoes stores in Austria and Germany by the end of 2024. The 130-year-old Austrian children’s shoe manufacturer Richter Schuhe has filed for bankruptcy with the Graz regional court. The court has opened restructuring proceedings without self-administration and appointed the Graz lawyer Arno Roman Lerchbaumer as insolvency administrator. 

With liabilities of over 7.9 million euros and assets estimated at just 920 000 euros, the financial figures point to deep-rooted problems within the company, which has been badly hit by the long COVID-19-related lockdowns. 

Twenty employees have been affected, four of whom are in Germany, as well as around 115 creditors. Under the restructuring plan, creditors will receive 20% of the claimed sums, payable within 24 months after approval of the restructuring plan.

Footwear retailer My Shoes, a subsidiary of the German group Deichmann, has also announced that it will close 90 stores in Austria (29) and Germany (61) by the end of 2024. This decision will affect 750 employees (150 in Austria and 600 in Germany). Deichmann concluded that the impact of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the Middle East, the increased costs and lower consumption have made the medium-segment business unsustainable.

Textilhandel GmbH, owner of fashion retailer Aachener, has also filed for insolvency at Dortmund District Court. For the time being, its seven stores will remain open.

Topic 5:

Our social media platforms have been hitting record-breaking hits. Our recent campaign obtained over 14,800,000 impressions and over 540,000 engagements, boosted to followers in the rest of Africa, Europe, Middle East, and North America. We encourage you to take advantage of our efforts to promote you. Send us content to push your company and brands. Also like, follow, and forward our links to your contact lists. Let us build the following globally so that we can show the world our capability.

Instagram: @saflec_team
Youtube: SAFLEC 

As we move forward, we recognize the importance of re-learning and adapting to global needs, demands, and challenges while embracing new strategies to thrive in the post-covid era. 

Best regards,
Nerisha Jairaj Executive Director, SAFLEC