23 of 2017


Newsletter No.23    23 June 2017

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Opening up international markets for clothing and textile manufacturers.

I am often asked what it is that prevents clothing and textile manufacturers from breaking into the international market. There are several answers to that question, but perhaps one of the most important elements is that many do not meet social auditing requirements.

In short, the quality and pricing of their products may be on point, but they also need to be able to demonstrate that the working conditions they provide for their staff comply with local laws and international best practice. Almost all of the importers in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, which are the areas in my portfolio, require that the businesses they deal with are independently audited for compliance with labour laws.

So, what exactly is a social audit? Simply put, it’s a means of measuring compliance with regulations and best practices when it comes to managing workforces, not only within a business but throughout its supply chain. Compliance in this area of operation is important to both investors and customers, and needs to be independently audited and certified. In fact, most importers have a zero tolerance approach to gaps in labour standards.

Compliance requirements

In order to be compliant, manufacturers in South Africa’s R12 billion-a-year clothing and textile industry need to be able to prove that they’re playing by the rules. These include the codes outlined in such laws as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (No. 77 of 1997), the Labour Relations Act (No. 66 of 1995), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (No. 85 of 1993), the Employment Equity Act (No. 55 of 1998) and the Skills Development Act (No. 97 of 1998). Listed companies also have to comply with the King Codes on Corporate Governance (King III and King IV).

In terms of international best practice, companies can refer to such excellent sources as the document titled OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, recently published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Guidance documents are also available on the websites of UL affiliates such as Sedex, SAI, ICTI-CARE, BSCI and EICC.

Reputable social audit vital

This is, of course, complex territory, which is why importers require an independent and valid social audit report before they consider purchasing from local manufacturers. An audit report provided by an independent global safety science company with an established reputation proves compliance in a way that minimises the time taken to conclude transactions, reduces costs and improves profitability. This is because there is a quantifiable link between responsible business practices and quality, safety and efficiency.

When it comes to analysing the reasons why manufacturers commission UL to conduct social audits for their companies, demand for verification of ethical practice amongst consumers comes at the top of the list. Research commissioned by UL shows that 87% of global customers consider a manufacturer’s environmental and social performance before purchasing its products.

A valid audit report is often considered a licence to operate and is as important as the business licence itself. In the EU alone, legislation is evolving to require independent verification of due diligence at both EU level, through compliance with the Directive 2014/95/EU requirement for non-financial reporting, and, at the national level, with recent laws such as the UK’s Modern Slavery Act of 2015 and the upcoming Wet Zorgplicht Kinderarbeid, which is due to be adopted in the Netherlands in 2020.

Within this context, it is clear that if local clothing and textile manufacturers wish to enter into and be successful in the international market, an independent social audit is as important as a quality and safety audit and a financial audit.

Christian Gerling

The annual Origin Africa Trade Event, now in its 8th year has built its reputation as the premier trade Event for the textile, apparel, fashion and associated industries of Africa.  Comprising multiple activities, Origin Africa provides a unique opportunity bringing together the entire African fibre to fashion pipeline.

The Conference features the highest calibre regional and international speakers who this year will focus on the rapidly increasing importance and impact of technologies – from cotton seed to end consumer.

The Trade Fair showcases the diversity and volume of product, skills and services available to a broad range and high number of regional and international buyers.

Origin Africa Upscale provides micro and small businesses specially tailored workshops, a separate area to exhibit and a specially designed competition

Both Informal and formal Networking events encourage dialogue, foster understanding and help build mutually beneficial relationships across sectors, across the continent and across the world.

For more information, or for updates to our program, please contact us on:

E.mail: Nancy@originafrica.org  or Belinda@actifafrica.com alternatively register online or view our regular updates on www.originafrica.org

Carla Fendi, one of fashion label’s five sisters, dies

ROME, Italy – Carla Fendi, who along with four sisters helped build her parents’ leather and fur goods shop in Rome into a global fashion powerhouse, has died aged 80, Italian press reports said on Tuesday.

Her death Monday was reported by members of her family, according to the reports.

It was Carla and her sisters – Paola, Anna, Franca and Alda – who in 1965 brought in Karl Lagerfeld, then a young German designer, to create a women’s ready-to-wear-line.

Honorary president of the Fendi group, now a part of the LVMH fashion conglomerate, Carla Fendi focused mainly on public relations and fostering the label’s international growth.

An enthusiastic fan of art and music, Carla Fendi created in 2007 a foundation for supporting Italy’s cultural heritage, and was one of the main benefactors of the Festival dei Due Mondi (‘Festival of Two Worlds’), an annual classical music festival in Spoleto, central Italy.

Nigerian cotton farmers to get improved seeds

In an attempt to boost cotton production in Nigeria, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has provided cotton farmers with improved seeds. This is an initiative by the Nigerian government to revive the falling production of cotton with the help of activities of the Presidential Committee on Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG).

“In continuation of the boosting programme, RMRDC presented 5.82 tonnes of cotton seeds to farmers in 2015 and 4.3 tonnes of improved cotton seeds (SAMCOT 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13) to all cotton farmers under the umbrella of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) in 2016. The council is today providing additional four tonnes of cotton seeds (Samcot 8, 9 and 10) to farmers under the umbrella of the NACOTAN for this year’s planting season,” said director-general of the council, Dr Hussaini Doko Ibrahim while addressing the farmers at the Institute of Agricultural Research.

At present, there are 54 ginneries in the country, of which only 22 are functioning, that too at low capacity utilisation, said Ibrahim, according to a Nigerian leading daily. The Council’s step will initiate the working of the ginneries along with increase in capacity. The increasing cotton demand of the country can be met with the joint effort of ginners, farmers and all stakeholders, said Ibrahim.



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I have an interested company wanting to add to their clothing brand.

Let me know and I will pass it on.

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