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SAFLEC takes Members to the Middle East Leather World
SAFLEC in partnership with the Ostrich Export Council (sponsored by the DTI), collective members exhibited at Leather World Dubai for a fourth year running this March 2019.   An eventful and fruitful event with more than 200 contacts made and over a million rand in business conducted with further potential sales of 1.5 million.  Handbags stood out again, with Lou Harvey, making the move to open up in this lovely City.  South Africa once again dominated the leather sector of the show with strong support from the Embassy and Consulate who pre-arranged a marketing campaign as well as a B2B buyers breakfast to encourage trade. Wild elements representing game skin, moved into a sold out event with further guaranteed business orders.  Attending Manufacturers included, Coco de Afrique, manufactured by Cape Cobra a brand owned by New Space Publishing.  Mabotho handbags, Via La Moda, Wild Elements Game Skin, Lou Harvey, Aruvali, Twinkle Shoes, Burgundy Collective, Matsidiso,, Vermont Leather Crafts, Africa Farm Crafts and Zambezi Grace.
Zambezi Grace in SAK’s and Neiman Marcus USA
Stuart Brand, owner of the Zambezi Grace  has proven beyond doubt that, the Trojan horse theory works.  His efforts to enter the USA market has been nothing but commendable, where his product is being show cased in his own store in the USA that he took the bold step to open.  Another accolade under the belt of this energetic go-getter is getting into USA’s SAK's and Neiman Marcus.   Well done Stuart!!!
SAFLEC partners with Eastern Cape Development to take Exhibitors to Morocco
Another SAFLEC step towards South Africa’s Africa focus. This time boldly, as a first time component showcase.  Working closely with the Moroccan Leather Association, SAFLEC was guided in bringing more component manufacturers as well as manufacturers with handmade products to this platform.  Top line, Eco Rubber and Planet were amongst the list of component manufacturers who exhibited and have highly commended their outcome at the trade event.  At least two of those companies have secured orders and distributors within the region as well as intent to open up in the region, thereby growing component exports.
SAFLEC partners with DTI and TIKZN on Ghana Mission
With Africa as a footwear focus, SAFLEC partnered with other stakeholders to provide interested manufacturers a platform in an Outward Selling Mission to Ghana. At least one of the companies who attended will return to develop further business ties to grow export.  We are trying everything we can to enter the African markets and encourage our manufacturers to take advantage of the opportunities presented via our partnerships with Wesgro and the above subject stakeholders.
A little news from Footwear and Retailers Association of America
President Trump announced over the weekend via Twitter that he will increase the China tariff rates on List 3 ($200 billion in Chinese-made goods) from 10 percent to 25 percent this Friday, May 10th. He also indicated that all remaining goods on China, including footwear, could be hit with 25 percent tariffs "shortly."
The U.S. and China are currently negotiating a long-term agreement to the trade dispute, with Chinese vice Premiere Liu He and a large delegation in D.C. this week for trade talks. The Administration is likely trying to maximize leverage in the negotiations, and President Trump stated in the tweet that the trade deal with China is progressing "too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate."
Africa Strategy
Africa is indeed the best way to increase exports but one must be considerate of the challenges of “who do we sell to” with limited sales chain and massive informal markets within this region. (Aside from the Southern Africa),said Nerisha Jairaj of SAFLEC. In additional all of these governments have centered around growing their leather industries as a method to increase employment. The number of informal manufacturers are astounding. Stats show us that these markets need to be pursued but stats remain a desktop effort and actual field experience from feedback of manufacturers and SAFLEC after visiting these markets,  itself indicates that the challenge must be approached with a careful and selective entrance strategy. Again our boarder countries are easier but the rest of Africa much harder.  SAFLEC has engaged with several partners who have had long and vast history and knowledge in this region. Inward penetration strategies are vital. Safety Footwear is the major reason for high African export figures with school shoes having strong potential. SAFLEC has presented at least 9 Africa platforms  opportunities  yearly for our members over the past 3 years.  With limited resources we have made all efforts to present African opportunities.   The uptake on visiting these platforms from Manufacturers have been weak  and we therefore encourage you to take up these opportunities which can only help grow your businesses and exports.  SAFLEC has now put a call out to Manufacturers to form self funded export Africa Clusters.  The offer to join this initiative is still open.  To those who have responded, a joint meeting will be held to pave our way forward.  We hope to hold the first of these meetings at SAFLEC offices before the end of this month.  A lot of our footwear move via in-direct exports into Africa ( mainly Southern Region) via SA Retailers.  We as Industry have made progress globally no matter how slow, but definitely made impacts with manufacturers entering big name brands like Steve Madden, SAKs, and Neiman Marcus. Some manufacturers have made moves to open their own stores and businesses in the global arena which are set to grow exports.  It is therefore vital to up our numbers where they are very low which is globally and maintain and grow Africa.  THERE IS NO QUICK FIX.   We ask Industry for their input as your experiences and guidance is what drives SAFLEC. We work for you the Industry !!!
EEP (EThekwini Export Program with SAFLEC)
The SAFLEC/EEP program has taken off on a positive note with the program having completed Supplier development training with 13 companies and a further 20 manufacturers going through Lean and Kaizen Principals training.  All of this is aimed at improving our  export potential  of locally manufactured products. The 2nd Capacity building program, with partner Productivity SA, will include in-house site visits, project implementation and follow-up to completion for companies participating.  Further to this EEP with SAFLEC are the co-sponsoring Arsutoria Training with SAFLIA, in this SAFLEC initiated and led effort.  EEP has also come forward to sponsor the air-fares of any design student participating in Source Africa’s design competition this year. EEP and SAFLEC collaboration with DUT, has in addition presented opportunities for young designers to gain (“in-factory) work experience.  The aim is to bring a new blood of designers to the forefront, for global competitiveness.  Designers with a creative edge.  During discussions with DUT it was established that the final year students would be given an option to specialise in three other modules and EEP and SAFLEC negotiated that one of these module be a footwear module. A definite win for footwear.
Source Africa Collaborations
SAFLEC has opened discussions with the likes of DTI,(DTI with Proudly SA) TIKZN, ECDC,KZNFC, Ethekwini, WESGRO, Clotex  and other South African bodies with Messe Frankfurt to ensure that South African exhibitors where housed as a collective at Source Africa this year and not scattered.  Discussions begun over a year ago.  SAFLEC has negotiated with Messe, Source Africa organiser to include Footwear in their Design competition this year.  We are trying to ensure more exposure to the Footwear and Leather industry, especially if there is going to be International presence. It is vital that a show held in our country, showcases our countries talent on the forefront and more importantly collectively to create impact.  It is the first of such collaboration which we led, SAFLEC, says and we really hope that there is some positivity that can come out of it. The first of everything is always a learning curve.  So we are ready for  constructive new learnings as it can only help us improve our efforts to globalise our Industry.
Ichume Presented at SA fashion week.
South African Footwear comes together in Aid Efforts
South Africa’s manufacturers gathered in support of their neighbor countries after Cyclone Idai and Kenneth left devastation in its path, followed by flooding in our home country SA.  A total of over R 1million rand in aid came through after SAFLEC made a call out to industry, with the likes of Palm Footwear who immediately came through to offer to assist with us our course, said Nerisha Jairaj.
Thank you to the following companies for their contributions:                   
Eco Rubber, Strassberger, Dick Whittington Shoes, Saint and Summer, Fred Footwear, Arena Trims, Labora Footwear, Lorenzi Handbags, Caprini Footwear and Green cross for coming together to support our course, said Nerisha Jairaj of SAFLEC.  Thank you to the team in the office for co-ordinating efforts ( Prenisha,Sarah and Louise) of communication, receiving and dispatching aid amidst our already hectic schedule of deliverable's.  To Sanjay Pattundeen who always backs my team up on these SRI’s, and most importantly to the Lord for gathering these companies to give.  Strength in numbers indeed.  Well done South Africa….well done to all the contributing companies.  Be blessed!!! And Stay Blessed.
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South African Footwear & Leather Export Council · 6 Stedman Mews · 128 Jan Hofmeyr Road · Westville, KwaZulu-Natal 3629 · South Africa