We asked a number of manufacturers: Is it now feasible for you to restart general production, or have you already restarted? What is your order position like, and have there been cancellations? Are any of your staff refusing to come back to work for any reason, and if so, what reasons? 4 have so far responded:
The Little Slipper Co: Some great orders
Port Elizabeth, E Cape, SA – We started up production with 25% of the workforce on the 6th of May after ensuring the factory met all the added regulations.
We had most of the requirements in place prior to lockdown, but had to apply for the permit we require, clean the factory after being closed for so long and finalise the risk assessment.
The following Monday we moved up to 35% and on the 18th we will run with just under 50% of the workforce.
It has been challenging trying to plan production whilst being restricted on workplace capacity, however we are grateful to be allowed to open again so we can generate an income to pay our staff and the bills.
We are in a fortunate position to have orders to produce and the Government Gazette allows us to produce all the footwear we make so we are not restricted by seasonality.
We have had some cancellations and reductions in orders, but have seen some great sales in the first two weeks of retail being back. Long may this continue.
Overall the majority of staff have been very willing and eager to return to work.
We do have some staff who are reluctant to return due to health concerns or co-morbidities that do not allow them to.
Other members of staff cannot return as they have no one to care for their children.
I believe we have to be as accommodating as possible in these difficult times. - Jacky Hay, COO
Fred Footwear: Cautiously optimistic
Port Elizabeth, E Cape, SA – The current lockdown constraints creates an operational challenge. We are still adjusting to the ‘new norm’. I suspect that an early start (albeit small) would create an opportunity to adjust in an incremental manner, in the context of the ‘new normal’.
We are currently participants in the Industrial wear/PPE value chain. This sub-sector has been relatively defensive in comparison to the fashion footwear sector. However, it is uncertain how long this will continue in the post-CV era. Hence, we remain cautiously optimistic.
We have some employees hesitant to return to work. The rationale is attributable to health/infection concerns of exposure to the Virus, whilst we suspect that some employees are waiting for financial assistance from the Government. - Rolland Eboru, member
Labora: We'll have to wait and see
Durban, KZN, SA – We've started with 30% of our staff. It's never a productive environment but sometimes it's important just to keep the wheels turning. It's also unpleasant when you got to only choose 30% of the staff and leave the rest out of it.
It's tough times but we will survive.
The next few months are going to be difficult and we have to wait and see how the market reacts to the scaling down of the lockdown. - Desmond Chunderlal, production director
Dick Whittington Shoes: Summer prices will be a challenge
Durban, KZN, SA – We are only working on essential goods at this time.
General production is expected to commence by mid-June or even later.
There is little point in talking about an order position as Winter 2020 is closed for all intents and purposes. We do however have existing orders, either in WIP or unplanned, with a few cancellations. The bigger challenge we face is carrying orders into Summer 2020 at winter prices. The losses are considerable given the ROE and labour cost adjustment effective 1 July.
I am not aware of staff refusing to come to work yet. - Arveen Boodhoo, MD