'The Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster, a private-public partnership between the Western Cape Provincial Government and 16 regional clothing and textile manufacturers employing approximately 9,500 people, is pleased to announce that South Africa’s four major clothing retailers (Edcon, Foschini, Truworths and Woolworths) have joined the partnership. This is an historic occasion, with the South African retailers and clothing and textile manufacturers previously largely disengaged from each other in terms of their strategic direction. Launched in January 2005, following the successful completion of a six-month pilot project and with a generous R1 million annual commitment from provincial government, the Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster is focused on bolstering the competitiveness of the regional clothing and textiles industry, thereby ensuring its continued viability and future success. The need for the Cluster stems from the strategic difficulties confronting the industry, most notably the growing intensity of global competition in domestic and international markets. By supporting the competitiveness development of Western Cape clothing and textile firms, the Cluster is therefore focused on ensuring firms meet the increasingly demanding requirements of their key customers, most notably the domestic retailers. In this regard it is important to note that the Cluster operates on the basis of a World Class Manufacturing (WCM) model that emphasises the adoption of WCM principles and practices throughout the domestic value chain. Three inter-linked programmes, each run by industry nominated Technical Steering Committees underpin this. The three programmes and their subsidiary elements are:
  • World Class Manufacturing – Firm level benchmarking, best practices sharing between participating firms and the provision of WCM training to Executives and Managers
  • Human Resource Development – Technical skills development and Team Leader training in WCM
  • Value Chain Alignment – Strategic and operational alignment of retail buyers and clothing and textile manufacturers
Retailer participation in the Cluster has emerged out of recognition of the importance of these three programmes, the specific successes achieved by the Cluster to date and the shared vision of Cluster members and the retailers of a globally competitive, successful regional clothing and textiles industry capable of supplying the domestic market with world-class products. Participation in the Cluster demonstrates the retailers’ commitment to assisting the domestic clothing and textile industry upgrade its international competitiveness to operate in the new global environment. Specifically, retailer participation will provide substantial monetary and technical resources to the industry and serve to encourage the spread of advanced manufacturing performance throughout their domestic supply chains. More generally, this move by the retailers will give a lead and direction to other manufacturers in the clothing and textiles industry of the importance of upgrading and the attainment of world class operating standards. The commitment and participation of the retailers, who commentators acknowledge control the industry, means that there is now a much greater chance of prosperity for the sector. The partnership is therefore expected to prosper and lead to the involvement of a large number of firms that are committed to upgrading their operations.