The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Business Reporter
BULAWAYO-BASED shoe manufacturing concern, Millennium Footwear is slowly establishing itself as one of the major players in the region and is now focusing on the South African market after getting an invitation to exhibit in the neighbouring country.
The company has already established itself in other regional countries notably Zambia and Namibia.
In an interview, Millennium Footwear managing director Mr Stuart Simali said taking part in exhibitions have helped the company penetrates new markets.
“We have participated in numerous exhibitions in the region and through these exhibitions we have managed to get publicity in various international markets notably in the Asian media. We also got an invitation by the Empumalanga Premier from South Africa for an exhibition on 16 December that will be held there after he saw our display at the Botswana global expo recently,” said Mr Simali.
He said a number of retail outlets especially in Zambia and Namibia have approached the company with the intention of becoming its sole distributors in their countries.
“There are a number of retail outlets that have expressed interest to be our distributors across the region with more interest coming in from companies in Zambia and Namibia. We are, however, in the process of working out some modalities with regards of considering their bids.
“Most of our clients from Zambia, Namibia and Botswana have even insisted that we manufacture from their countries but the problem is that in these countries there are no supporting industries and as such it’s not feasible to set up a company there, it’s rather we export,” said Mr Simali.
Millennium Footwear won an award in the best manufacturing, mining and agriculture sectoral category at the 12th edition of Botswana Global Expo held on 31 October to 3 November.
The Botswana Global Expo is an annual premier business to business exhibition organised and managed by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre.
“It’s very encouraging that our products are being appreciated and recognised in foreign countries as shown by the fact that we managed to be a second-runner up in the manufacturing, mining and agriculture category at the Botswana Global Expo beating three other Ethiopian companies in the leather sector.
“Ethiopia is a power house in the leather sector with good tanners but when it comes to designing, styling and product quality they are not as good as us. Botswana is in the process of reviving its leather industry and have brought in German experts to assist them with tanning as they are exporting hides in their raw state instead of at least as wet blue,” said Mr Simali.
Millennium Footwear was part of the four companies representing Zimbabwe at the Botswana Global Expo with others being Prestige Leathers, Dairibord and Tanganda.
This year the company also became the second runner-up in the Small to Medium Enterprises category at the Zimbabwe Investor Awards and scooped a silver medal at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair for the best Zimbabwe exhibit in the clothing, footwear, textile and accessories category.
Mr Simali said the company was overwhelmed by local orders and struggling to cope with the demand for its shoes owing to erratic supplies of various consumables by its suppliers.
“We have plenty of orders locally and we are struggling to cope with the demand of our products as supplies are facing difficulties in sourcing foreign currency for the procurement of some of the consumables we use in manufacturing shoes.
“If the liquidity crisis persists we are likely to see a situation whereby tanneries suffer the same consequences as our suppliers since they also export various chemicals for tanning hides and that will lead to operations being affected,” he said.