BULAWAYO, May 8 (The Source) – The country’s sole button manufacturing company Life Gear Trading, formerly Coronet Buttons and Plastics, is now consolidating its local market share after stabilising operations and managing to break even.
In an interview with The Source on Friday, the company’s managing director Umzingaye Mlaudzo urged local clothing manufacturers to support the previously floundering company.
“After a long struggle, we are now breaking even and working towards profitability,” he said.
“Since we have no local competitor, our aim is to cement our presence in Zimbabwe because our products are favourably priced and of superior quality to imports.”
The former industrial giant was left crippled and riddled with debt by former directors who sold it to workers.
However, Mlaudzi said the firm had managed to work towards healthy operations and was paying creditors at intervals to avoid litigation.
“Currently, we are working at between 10 -12 percent of capacity and our aim is to increase production to at least 30 percent,” he said.
Life Gear has a staff complement of 33 but used to employ close to 500 people at its peak.
Mlaudzi said retooling was a major restriction to its expansion plans as fashion trends were overtaking its products.
“We need a capital injection of $150,000 to purchase modern machinery which can brand and shape our buttons in line with customer needs.”
“However, we are still supplying formal wear buttons to many institutions, with our largest customer being Edgars stores,” he added.
Life Gear has two other manufacturing lines, producing different kinds of plastic products and clothing labels.
Mlaudzi decried lack of local support for both products.
“Bulawayo companies such as National Blankets and Ingwebu should support us because industries complement each other, especially when they are from the same location.
“We have the capacity to supply large orders and are just waiting for them to come in,” he added.