Shoe firm increases production

R16-million investment creates jobs and boosts exports Bagshaw Footwear, a division of the industry- leading BBF Safety Group, is set to increase its national and international footprint following a R16-million investment into state-of-the-art moulding equipment. It will increase the Port Elizabeth manufacturer’s capacity by more than 30%. The plant, which produces the Lemaitre and Fuel brands of safety footwear for use in sectors ranging from manufacturing and agriculture to the military, has acquired a 30-station double density polyurethane (DDPU) moulding machine. This will not only increase its production and improve the company’s ability to localise its production, but will also allow BBF to challenge Chinese imports. The investment, which signals strong confidence in the growth of the safety footwear market and in Bagshaw’s growth prospects, has also resulted in more jobs being created at the North End plant, which already employs nearly 500 people, many with highly specialised skills. Divisional general manager Danie Kruger said yesterday: “We are extremely excited about this investment and so are our staff. “There is an incredible amount of excitement on the floor,” he said. “In addition to this, more, equally exciting, capital expenditure into new equipment – which will increase our capabilities further – is in the pipeline. “The group has an aggressive global growth strategy and the machine supports us in terms of our growth curve. “We will also be able to seriously challenge Chinese imports in the safety footwear market.” Kruger said that by increasing production capacity, the company was a step closer to achieving its objective of being able to supply customers on demand. “Within the safety footwear procurement cycle, purchases are often annual,” Kruger said. “We ’re a customer-focused business driven by market demand and high stock availability allows us to satisfy that quickly.” Making safety shoes from size two through to 13, the new machine is able to inject a moulded sole to the shoe upper every 15 seconds and has an output capacity of 2 000 pairs of shoes a day. The company now boasts four moulding machines, meaning production can rise to more than 5 000 pairs of shoes. “Eight additional operators are required to work the three shifts we have scheduled for the machine. “This is one step of many in our growth strategy and it is great to see the entire team behind the vision,” Kruger said. BBF, which is headquartered in Durban, exports its shoes to 40 countries. A substantial portion of Bagshaw’s products are exported from Port Elizabeth.