Seardel Apparel, prior to change of ownership focused mainly in the manufacturing and distribution of men’s, women’s and children apparel.
“The first thing we had to do was to reassure customer confidence. When we were approached with the announcement of the closure of Seardel Apparel we approached retailers to see if we had their support. They [retailers] were unanimous in their support for this new venture,” said Herman Pillay, the chief executive officer of Trade Call Investments managing formerly Seardel Apparel.
Trade Call Investments is an investment company owned by the Sothern African Clothing and Textiles Workers Union (SACTWU).
“SACTWU stepped in during the time of a crisis. They intervened when a factory was facing closure and this needs to be rewarded with improved labour relations,” Pillay said, applauding the 85 000 member union.
He further allayed fears of possible conflict of interests between SACTWU and employees working for the trade-union investment company saying.
Seardel Apparel intended to close its Cape Town and Durban factories last year but managed to remain afloat through a loan facilitated between SACTWU and Seardel Apparel.
The closure would have driven over 2000 employees into the streets. However, the new management is confident about the direction the company is taking and is upbeat about possible growth in the near future with one executive offering to go for a year without a salary as to ensure company stability.
“We are projecting an employment growth of up to 20 per cent in the next six months [and] this looks achievable factoring that if we had not paid out retrenchment costs last December, we would have broke even for the first time,” said Pillay.
Pillay said the company will incentivise workers and introduce new products so as to ensure sustainability.
BY TRUST MATSILELE