“The company is 167 years old, and it started with batik in Indonesia, an entrepreneur in the Netherlands wanted to bring that to the market. On the way to that part of the world, they also bypassed Ghana,” Vlisco Group CEO Hans Ouwendijk told CNBC Africa.
“Then it became clear that the Ghanaian consumer was absolutely thrilled about the product. From there – more than 100 years ago – we became a part of the society of Ghana and we feel we are part of the culture in West Africa.”
Vlisco is a textile designer and manufacturer of bold and African textiles which are particularly popular in West Africa. The Dutch company now plans on transforming the company into a brand-orientated fashion player.
Vlisco’s entrepreneurial venture does however raise the question of the patenting and licencing of textile making and design, especially as the materials originate from the continent. Vlisco has nonetheless found a niche in the market and created a long-standing business.
“We have four brands, and Vlisco is one of the four brands coming from the Netherlands. We have three other brands that originated in Africa. Those brands are a part of the business that we do in [the continent],”Ouwendijk explained.
“We want to get better, to go into new markets, and we want to go into new products.”
Ninety per cent of Vlisco’s products are purchased by African consumers, with a variety of affordable luxury clothing and goods such as handbags and scarves.
“[We’re anticipating] more shareholders and more partnerships. In 2010 we started to expand this business, [and] we are well on our way to deliver that target for 2015 and 2016,” said Ouwendijk.
“We are moving into a new territory, and that is together with designers, stylists, key players in the market. We are making new products but also we are doing partnerships with designers.”