The Sunday News
Nkosilathi Sibanda, Business Correspondent
ONE of the country’s leading exotic leather products manufacturer, Millennium Footwear is pinning hopes on the continuous resurgence of the country’s tourism industry to steer its business prospects.
Millennium Footwear co-director Mrs Sikhangezokuhle Simali said the high demand of the company’s exotic leather products especially by both local and international tourists has managed to play a significant part in keeping their business afloat in the face of plummeting sales and profits culminating from the economic challenges prevailing in the country.
“The market for our exotic leather products has been growing and we are quite positive that it has something to do with the boon in the tourism sector over the past few years. Ideally safari hunters and tourists in generality prefer wearing shoes made of exotic leather.
“We even offer custom-made products from buffalo, crocodile and elephant skins for our clients. Our range of exotic also includes key holders and a number of ornaments as well as trophies, which are used for decorative and sentimental purposes,” said Mrs Simali.
Tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe went up 15 percent to 554 417 from 480 510 in the quarter ended March 2018.
According to the Finance ministry’s Fiscal Policy and Advisory Services Department update, tourism receipts also grew 20 percent to $190 million during the period under review.
Mrs Simali said the company had managed to attract a number of foreign clients especially from Europe through its participation at a number of international exhibitions, most of which their involvement would have been facilitated by the country’s trade promotion body, ZimTrade.
“We have participated in a number of trade shows and this has been an eye opener for us. Through our interaction with other businesses, we have managed to establish mutually beneficial contacts, which have played a part to increase our foreign clientele base.
“We firmly believe that as we grow we will also be contributing significantly to the growth of the country’s tourism sector and the entire economy as a whole through marketing our tourism related products. The bulk of our orders are from outside the country, with European buyers leading the pack,” she said.
Mrs Simali said the company’s exotic leather products were also a favourite locally especially among affluent individuals.
The Bulawayo-based company secured a trophy dealer’s licence, which allows it to trade in game products and to get its products from local tanneries early last year.
Securing a trophy dealer’s licence was part of the company’s efforts to re-strategise and focus on exports such as exotic leather products made from elephant, crocodile, ostrich and buffalo skin which are in demand in Europe.