The new machinery would increase capacity utilisation to 60% from the current 20% at the Swiss-based footwear manufacturer and retailer’s Gweru factory.

“When operating at full capacity, the company has potential to produce 10 million pairs of shoes per year, employing 5,000 workers,” acting managing director, Isaiah Sikwila told Industry and International Trade Minister Mike Bimha during a tour of the company.

Staff levels have fallen 70% from 5,000 workers in the last decade. The company currently has a staff complement of 1,500 employees.

Sikwila said the company was faced with numerous operational challenges including high power charges, which constitute 50% of the company’s operational costs and a shortage of raw hides used in the manufacture of shoes.

Bimha said government was planning to introduce a levy to slow the export of raw hides to support the local industry.

“The government will implement a punitive levy on the export of raw hides, a practice which has starved tanners of their basic raw material and shoe manufacturers of locally produced and value added leather,” Bimha said.

Source: New Zimbabwe