Servicing our customers

We treat all our customers as valued clients. Indeed, without their guidance, their standards and codes of good business, we would not be the company we are today.

Meeting, going beyond standards

Impahla strives to achieve the highest standards as a supplier of quality products through manufacturing and branding services. From cutting, printing and embroidery, through to assembly, fabrics, socks and finishing, our goal is always to produce top quality products on time and on budget.

In 2013/14, the Cape Clothing Textile Cluster (CCTC) conducted an independent analysis of Impahla, benchmarking us against international business spread across Africa, Central Europe and South America. This assessment included an in-depth client satisfaction survey, where the CTCC surveyed only PUMA as our main client.

While the survey has not yet been repeated, we again disclose the outcomes of this report this year, to show the importance of serving our customers and our commitment to making the relevant improvements. Our main response has been to appoint a new manufacturing director, Stefan Segal, as well as a new quality assurance QA) manager, Nataleigh Young.

The CCTC benchmark analysis found that Impahla’s sales growth “far outstrips benchmark comparators even when discounted in light of the addition of the textiles and sock division in 2012”. Compared to our competitors, the survey also showed we outperform in all areas except for delivery reliability, product design lead time, and conformance to packing requirements where we have room for improvement.

Responsibility and our Code of Conduct

A number of our valued clients, including adidas, Asics, Merrell, Uzzi (Truworths) and the TFG Group, conduct audits on our manufacturing operations, to ensure we adhere to world-class standards for quality, timeliness of deliveries, safety and human rights issues. We are also similarly audited by industry organisations such as the NBC.

These audits generally include site tours, document reviews and management and worker interviews. Corrective action plans (CAP) are then drawn up and agreed upon with the auditors, which must be completed within a reasonable timeframe.

These standards have now become integral to our own Code of Conduct and all the measures in these standards also form an integral part of this report.

Strengthening the supply chain

Following our vertical integration strategy, we have successfully expanded and absorbed fabrics, embroidery and sublimation into the business over the past three years. Sublimation proved more complicated than anticipated, but we have grown through a steep learning curve and are now achieving satisfactory production levels.

Staying with technology

Impahla’s policy has been to acquire a range of operator-managed machines for all of the core assembly ctivities. We have ensured that our cutters, machine operators and finishers are supplied with reliable, safe and appropriate machines that allow us to deliver against increasingly challenging targets. Equally important, we have always sought to retain inhouse competence in key functions.

Extending our responsibility throughthe supply chain

We recognise our dependence on the high quality products we require from our suppliers in order to produce high quality products for our customers. We believe in using only safe and responsibly produced input material for both our products and other business needs.

We spent a total of R56.2 million on our suppliers, more than half of which was spent on yarn and fabrics. In line with our customers’ product quality standards and expectations from our supply chain, we use only input material that has been approved by our customers. Approximately 90% of our input material is sourced from approved suppliers.

Over the previous two years, we requested that all our local suppliers rate their response to the social, environmental and health and safety issues contained in Impahla’s Code of Conduct. While the number of suppliers responding to the survey improved from five to 14, we have not created the impact we hoped for and therefore did not repeat the survey this year. We hope to take this forward next year.

Local vs. foreign sourcing

Extraction, raw material processing, assembly and software all require different factors of production to be competitive. Impahla has proved that South Africa should be able to compete in garment assembly/manufacturing. The manufacturing of modern, highly technical fabrics is still beyond our production capability. Nonetheless, the acquisition of Tomotex, now our fabrics division, has been a fantastic success story. Whereas last year we imported 85% of our fabrics, this year we imported only 19%.

We continue advocating that local suppliers should implement lead practice, produce high quality, safe products and obtain the necessary compliance. Where we do find progressive local suppliers, such as ACA Threads, that comply with the latest new European Union chemical standards, we are prepared to pay the premiums associated with safe and responsibly produced products, because they protect the Impahla brand and ensure that our products are safe.