SUNBIZ

Boom Like Never Before: Towler

A strong push to reinstate the 32 per cent duty on imported garments can be expected from the clothing and textiles sector in its Budget submission. A spokesman for the
10 Mar 2021 11:15
Boom Like Never Before: Towler
Machinists at the Performance Flotation Development factory in Nabua on March 7, 2021.

A strong push to reinstate the 32 per cent duty on imported garments can be expected from the clothing and textiles sector in its Budget submission.

A spokesman for the sector, Mike Towler, made the comment saying it would reinvigorate business for factories that manufactured for the local market.

“When the borders reopen and the tourists start to return to Fiji we don’t want them buying Bula shirts made in Asia,” he said.

Mr Towler owns and manages Performance Flotation Development(Fiji) Limited, a Nabua-based manufacturer of lifejackets and sportswear.

The company reported an increase in business over the past two  months, on the back of increasing demand for sports clothing and life jackets from Australia and New Zealand, where school and community sport are back on the agenda.

As a result, the company works seven days a week, he said.

 

Bright future
“We are now so busy,” Mr Towler said.

“March will be our biggest month this financial year – a serious increase in business over the past few years – and it is not going to stop any time soon.

We have lifejacket orders lined up for April and May too, that’s never happened before, ever.”

“Our immediate future is looking very good indeed.”

Yesterday, Mr Towler said: “This is the first Sunday in the past four years that we have worked.”

“And it is looking like we might do it again next Sunday.”

“But I hope we don’t have to as my staff will be worn out and will require a break.”

The surge in business has allowed Performance Flotation Development to pay down bank loans faster than the company normally would, Mr Towler said.

“It has allowed us to repay the principal and interest that was deferred by our bankers at the beginning of COVID-19,” he said.

At a time when Performance Flotation Development should be laying off more workers, it has instead employed more Fijians, Mr Towler said.

“It is that time of the year when we are normally laying off our casual staff.”

 

Challenges
Mr Towler said: “If we could employ more experienced machinists, we would, but they are very hard to find even with the high levels of unemployment in Fiji at present.

“We are not the only factory with that problem. Many garment factories that cater for exports are finding it difficult to acquire experienced machinists at present.”

 

High spirits
Staff morale at Performance Flotation Development like their income at present, was high, Mr Towler said.

“A lot of penalty rate overtime equals much higher take home pay every week,” he said.

“I believe we will see this sort of demand for the rest of 2021.

 

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com



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