Africa Connected

Mauritius is fast becoming Africa’s textile hub

Award-winning journalist, Nikiwe Bikitsha is travelling through Mauritius to explore the impact of the textile industry on the economy.

Over the decades, the textile sector has been one of the drivers of transformation in the Mauritian economy - constantly evolving to meet the needs of the world.

Initially presenting itself as a cutting edge factory over 30 years ago, the family business known as Star Knitwear has made its mark in the industry as a fully integrated Avant Garde business. While Star Knitwear’s growth was not had a smooth run given the fact that Mauritius did not have an inherent culture of textile, its business model is currently being benchmarked across Africa.

Today, the business has diversified by establishing its own design team, giving the company the advantage of being able to develop garments with short lead times in order to have it in stores within 6 weeks. Something its competitors are finding harder to do in a global market.

It’s based on giving the market what it wants, when it wants.

Ahmed Parkar, CEO at Star Knitwear

Contributing 7% to the country’s GDP, Star Knitwear currently creates approximately 30 000 jobs with a gross employment rate of 120 000 direct and indirect jobs, whilst also creating other downstream and upstream industries.

Currently supplying fashion retailers such as Top Shop, River Island and Woolworths, the company can manufacture up to 1 million garments a month and is restrategising toward higher value sales.

Additionally, they’ve also made headway with introducing shorter lead time models and competitive pricing to the South African market – a market traditionally known for buying from China at low prices.

With its sights firmly set on moving towards supplying a younger African market online, the company is also instrumental in steering the textile industry away from a labour dependence.

We’re looking seriously now at working in terms of online, as the retail structures take longer to establish.

Ahmed Parkar, CEO at Star Knitwear

Click here to access the Africa Connected portal or click below to watch Nikiwe's full interview with Ahmed Parkar.

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