Cape Town’s manufacturing industry is a shining light of the province and despite an unpredictable year, the subsectors comprising CTFL (clothing, textile, footwear and leather) have adapted and done well.

In 2020, specifically in the fourth quarter, the manufacturing sector was a primary driver on the road to provincial economic recovery, contributing 25.8 percentage points to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). This translates to employment in the sector increasing by 5 772 jobs – not to mention that from 2016 to 2020, the CTFL sector has generated more than R1.1 billion in sales.

Key to this growth and development is the Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster (CCTC), a not-for-profit organisation collaboratively established in 2005 between government and industry. As evidenced by their name, the vision and aims of the CCTC is to support clothing and textile manufacturing in Cape Town and the greater Western Province region. The CCTC assists in building the sector into a competitive local industry with World-Class Manufacturing capabilities.

Based on the promising fourth quarter economic indicators and the integral role that this sector plays in our city’s economic recovery, the CTFL subsectors prove pivotal to employment and investment.

And the CCTC facilitates that.

But how?

The CCTC, as an industry-driven initiative, is led and shaped by the expertise of its member firms. With 30 members (primarily manufacturers, collectively employing over 10 000 people), the Cluster draws on their collective insight and experience to develop strategies for growth, opportunities for employment, and tactics to build resilience, sustainability, and competitiveness.

This overarching mandate is underpinned by the Cluster’s key programmes; World Class Manufacturing (WCM) and Quick Response. These are based on market-led requirements and commercial business propositions that include optimising supply chains, supporting local firms for domestic and international export, and developing a quick, competitive operational standard.

Wes Fallon, Senior Project Manager and Lead Facilitator at B&M Analysts, the service provider to CCTC, says,

“Local CTFL manufacturers face stiff competition from imported products from countries with lower labour costs, mainly in the East. It is very difficult for local manufacturers to compete on price alone and the advantages that local producers can provide in terms of quality, reliability, speed, and flexibility have been somewhat ignored or under-appreciated in the past.

“The CCTC aims to assist member firms to build their competitiveness and also to better quantify the non-price cost benefits of better quality, reliability, speed, and flexibility which they can offer.”

To Mr. Fallon’s point about the speed and flexibility advantages that local manufacturing can offer – in 2020, with crippling disruptions to global supply chains created by the pandemic, CCTC members were able to adapt more quickly and jump on new opportunities, avoiding or limiting job losses with all member firms staying in business. Manufacturers were attentive and responsive to the demands of consumers, with all Cluster members reacting to the sudden and desperate need for masks and PPE, as well as adjusting their core manufacturing output to plug the gaps created by a world working from home.

Mr. Fallon notes, “As people are staying home more, we have seen increased demand for locally produced activewear/sportswear, casual wear, and home textiles (such as bedding).”

“Manufacturers who have been able to adapt quickly and trade on their flexibility have found success filling this demand. We also have one member, Rogz, who manufactures pet products (leads, collars, beds) and this sector of the market has seen a huge spike in demand as well during the pandemic.”

Rogz Success Story

These pockets of success stories show a positive upturn within this historical sector, given that the last 20 years has seen a sustained decline in employment and investment. Impressively, and in contrast to the national strain that this sector experiences, “CCTC members have added 4% to their headcount and increased manufacturing sales by 8.5% over the last three years leading up to the global pandemic,” says Fallon.

Interested in becoming a member of the CCTC?

The Cluster welcomes membership queries related to CTFL manufacturers and retailers in the Western Cape. Members get access to regular and relevant news, data, and opportunities to engage with external key stakeholders that includes government, sector bodies and industry experts.

Additionally, members can benefit from bi-weekly or monthly working groups, peer-learning forums and webinars that may be co-hosted with the KZNCTC (KwaZulu-Natal Clothing and Textile Cluster). These activities involve over 300 industry specialists across 70+ member firms from thread producer to major retailer.

What’s more, one-on-one engagements are available to Cluster members that require brainstorm solutions to any pressing issues. According to ACA Threads CEO, Eckhard Marshing, “Our experience since joining the CCTC has been extremely positive and this has been further re-enforced by the invaluable support provided during the challenging time of Covid-19. We as a company cannot afford not to be part of the CCTC.”

If not a member, perhaps a course or business opportunity might interest you:

The CCTC offers training and skills development opportunities to anyone interested. Earlier this year, they launched two innovative online training courses called the Team Leader Development Program (TLDP) and the Emerging Leader Development Program (ELDP). These courses are shaped to unlock productivity, stability and innovation in line managers and leaders.

In May of this year, the CCTC launched their SME Business Accelerator programme, a “Dragon’s Den” style initiative aimed at connecting SMEs with large retailers. Participating companies are given the chance to pitch their product and services to large customers in CTFL and retail. Approved candidates will receive mentoring and support in linking their innovative products to larger markets.

On this, the City’s Mayco Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos, said:

I am extremely happy that the Enterprise and Investment Department, together with the Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster, can provide this opportunity for local manufacturers to hone their skills and expertise and then supply to big retailers like Woolworths, Truworths, Cape Union Mart, TFG, and Mr Price Group, among others.”

This in turn will create more employment opportunities for the residents of this city. Our economic landscape is resilient because we prioritise and support the high-growth sectors to drive demand that makes business sense.

For more information about the Cluster’s membership, programmes and courses, or to ask any queries linked to your clothing and textile business, visit their website or LinkedIn page. You can also contact the CCTC by emailing To read Wes Fallon’s full, completed questionnaire, click here.

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