Lovemore Zigara Midlands Correspondent
Bata Shoe Company is investing about $500 000 in setting up a gumboot making plant that will produce between 250 000 and 300 000 pairs per year. This will result in the country saving over $500 000 in imports. Bata discontinued the production of gumboots and PVC safety boots during the hyper-inflationary era.
The company has had to reconsider its decision due to a significant demand for safety shoes in mining and agriculture, which has been on a rebound because of the success of the Command Agriculture programme. Bata managing director Mr Ehsan Zaman said they were expecting to commence gumboots production by March next year.
“We see the opportunity of having a gumboots business in this country,” he said. “Presently, we are importing from South Africa as well as Zambia. Our investment proposal for the machine and equipment to produce gumboots has been approved and we have already placed an order for the machines and if everything goes well we will be commencing our production from March next year.
“The investment of over $500 000 includes moulds and machines. We are proud that we will be producing these products in Zimbabwe. The gumboots will be for both the domestic and the export market.”
Mr Zaman said he was optimistic of a positive economic outlook following the appointment of the country’s new President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Should the economy improve and we make good business, the company will consider bringing more investment into the country,” he said. “We are very optimistic because the vision that the new President gave in his speech is very positive.
“We are very optimistic that business will improve and so will the economy and there will be more investment inflows into the country. If things continue like this, we will probably reach the highs that we are aiming for.”
Bata Shoe Company is the biggest shoe manufacturer in Zimbabwe employing over 1 100 workers and producing 3,5 million pairs of shoes per year. At its peak, the firm employed about 5 000 workers before the economy took a downturn. Last year, the company introduced new production process, among them the reintroduction of the Sandak and Pata-Pata brands on the local market.
Bata reintroduced the two brands after it discontinued production in 2008.