Closed leather factory up for sale

IN another huge blow to the city’s employment figures, about 100 employees of a Uitenhage leather manufacturer are without work.

Mario Levi Manufacturers, who made leather for the automotive industry, closed its doors in November and the final order for liquidation was given last month.

Marketing of the property in Uitenhage, from where the leather manufacturer operated, started this week.

The 44000m2 property is being sold for R30-million.

At its peak in 2004, Mario Levi employed more than 200 people when the then Italian Deputy Foreign Trade Minister Adolfo Urso visited the city to announce a further investment of R75-million in the Uitenhage plant. It produced leather, primarily for export to Alfa Romeo plants in Italy, as well as Fiat and Lancia.

In 2012, the company clinched a deal to supply leather for BMW and it also supplied leather for General Motors South Africa.

Gary Shrosbree, one of the four liquidators appointed, confirmed the company stopped operating in November and a provisional liquidation was ordered in March and a final order last month.

Shrosbree said about 100 staff members had lost their jobs and that they, along with the other creditors like the suppliers and banks, would benefit from the sale of the property along with the related assets of the company.

“The former employees are assisted with the necessary claim forms for unemployment,” Shrosbree said.

Elmarie van Zyl of Independent Property Consultants Handling the sale of the property.

Automotive Industry Development Centre supplier development manager Lance Schultz said Mario Levi’s closure was indicative of the intense cost pressures on component manufacturers in the automotive sector.

“Rising costs, spearheaded by utilities, and significantly reduced demand from the EU, have forced local auto suppliers to rethink and sometimes revolutionise their processes to reduce costs without compromising quality,” Schultz said.

All attempts to get hold of the parent company, which is based in Italy, or any remaining South African representatives, yesterday were unsuccessful. – Cindy Preller

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