SUNBIZ

Business Boom In Clothing & Textile Sector

Exports for a sportswear and life jackets manufacturer in Suva are reaching a new high against the record over the past four years. Performance Flotation Developments (Fiji) Pte Limited (PFD
01 Feb 2021 12:05
Business Boom In Clothing & Textile Sector
The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry Council President Michael Towler.

Exports for a sportswear and life jackets manufacturer in Suva are reaching a new high against the record over the past four years.

Performance Flotation Developments (Fiji) Pte Limited (PFD Fiji) reported a 20 per cent increase in lifejacket production, two months ahead of the end of its current summer season.

PFD Fiji managing director, Mike Towler, said: “Demand for our products in Australia and New Zealand has not diminished.

“It’s our best year in the past four years.”

“January has also been good for sports clothing, with a 10 per cent increase in demand for 2021, against 2020.”

However, staffing does not reflect the positive news, Mr Towler said. “We are still struggling to employ machinists. The current staff are earning a lot of overtime, which at penalty rates eats into profits.”

 

Keeping up with orders at the Performance Flotation Development Fiji factory, in Nabua.

Keeping up with orders at the Performance Flotation Development Fiji factory, in Nabua.

Poor response
The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry Council continues to raise concern over the lack of a local response to the nationwide call for machinists, following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Towler, as president of the council, said advertisements in local dailies for machinists, were met with poor response.

Mr Towler said a host of reasons, including rent, accommodation and relocation costs were among factors that impacted people’s decision to engage in the profession, as most jobs were in Suva.
“Most people who are unemployed due to the closure of the borders have had to return to their respective villages where they don’t have to worry about rent, and where they can easily grow their own food, or use marine resources,” he said.

But while some members of the council have offered training for machinists as a means of bridging the shortfall in manpower, the response has been poor, Mr Towler said.

 

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry Council has reported some stability.

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry Council has reported some stability.

Not all is lost to Fiji
The textile, clothing and footwear industry employs an estimated 7000 people, with 20,000 more dependants, he said.

“In the last six months, those figures might have dropped by an estimated 10 per cent.”

Against all odds, the industry has not been lost to Fiji, despite the close of a major garment factory, he said. “We can safely report positive results in the export clothing and textile industry, as we maintain a positive outlook,” Mr Towler said.

“The same cannot be said for those garment factories that cater for the local market. No tourists has really impacted the demand for locally-made products with some industry members struggling to stay in business.”

“What local business there is, is struggling to compete with cheaper imports. An industry submission to our Government – to reinstate tariffs that were reduced in the last budget – has been finalised and submitted.”

“We are eagerly awaiting their response.”

“This will assist those factories that do not have any export business to fall back on in these very tough COVID-19 times.”

 

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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