Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
ONE of the country’s leading exotic leather shoes manufacturer, Millennium Footwear will this year introduce an array of shoes to cater for all classes in society.
Millennium Footwear managing director Mr Stuart Simali said the company had been concentrating on producing exotic leather products over the years in a bid to keep its business afloat in the wake of an influx of cheap imported shoes mostly from China.
“Next year (this year) we will be introducing an array of shoes to cater for high, middle and low income earners. Over the past few years we had been concentrating on producing exotic leather shoes mostly targeting high income earners as the local market has been saturated with cheap shoes mostly from China,” said Mr Simali.
The company will also introduce school shoes as it seeks to grab a market and grow its business.
“We have been forced to introduce cheap shoes into the market as we realised that shying away from the competition being exerted by imports hasn’t helped us much and thus we are now taking it head on. We are also going to be rolling out school shoes made of leather instead of the Chinese ones which are mostly made of synthetic leather,” said Mr Simali.
He said there was gross abuse of the Sadc certification of origin.
“As an industry we have noted that there are shoes coming from China and go past South Africa whereby there are rebranded and only pay Value Added Tax instead of duty since South African exporters selling goods to Southern African countries may be eligible to receive Sadc certificates because there is no proper enforcement,” said Mr Simali.
He said the company temporarily shelved plans to explore the regional market as it was still engaged in feasibility studies. Last year it had indicated to market its game leather products made of giraffe, elephant, ostrich, buffalo, crocodile, among other skins in Namibia.
“We are still assessing the Namibian market and hopeful we are going to export to that country next year (this year) and we are also grateful that we managed to get some inquiries in Zambia and Cape Town, South Africa when we visited fairs there under the ZimTrade banner and we are likely to pursue those markets as well,” said Mr Simali.
He said the company which has the capacity to produce about 800 shoes a day but was making an average of 50 to 80 pairs a day, depending on orders, was operating at 40 percent capacity utilisation.
Millennium Footwear manufactures shoes under its three brands namely Wild, Stone Crush and Gun Smoke.