Setting New standard in Personal Protection wear
Firefighters’ protective gear manufacturer Kishugu Clothing is expanding into the industrial work wear market.
Part of the specialist Integrated Fire Management (IFM) leader, Kishugu, which implements the South African government’s Working on Fire (WoF) programme, Kishugu Clothing is relocating its factory in Wynberg, Cape Town to larger, custom-built premises once occupied by a textile manufacturing company in the city.
“We have developed a range of industrial work wear that will be marketed direct to companies and through an E-Commerce website,” says Kishugu Clothing managing director Rob Winter.
In addition, Kishugu Clothing plans to export protective gear to its WoF International operations in Africa, Australia, Chile, Brazil and Indonesia. Reciprocal imports of certain items from these countries are also a possibility.
Rob explained the development is in line with the restructuring of Kishugu two years ago when the Mpumalanga-based company, widely regarded as world leaders in Integrated Fire Managment (IFM), rationalised its operations into 11 subsidiaries. These subsidiaries are mandated to explore and develop new opportunities within its sphere of business.
Kishugu Clothing initially focused on manufacturing protective clothing for the more than 5,000 WoF crew members throughout South Africa and, more recently, on supplying a limited amount of gear for government’s Working for Water crews.
Kishugu Clothing expanded about two years ago when it merged with a company that specialises in importing fashion garments, opening the way for local manufacturing as well.
“We’ve got a solid business mix now,” says Winter. “About 50% of the business consists of imported fashion wear; 25% is locally manufactured fashion garments; and 25% is locally manufactured protective clothing.”
The company employs some 200 people but the number will probably increase as it diversifies into the industrial work wear market.
“Kishugu is totally committed to job preservation and creation,” says Winter. “Our aim is to produce locally manufactured garments wherever possible. Our production lines are very flexible, so we have the ability to increase or decrease output of particular garments in line with demand, but local manufacturing and job creation wherever possible is absolutely key.”
Kishugu Clothing uses South African-grown fibre in its 100% cotton fire fighters’ protective gear which is treated with fire-retardant chemicals. The main items are short- and long-sleeved shirts, individual jackets and trousers, and two-piece jacket and trouser sets.
With operations and projects on five continents, Kishugu is systematically expanding its South African and international footprint, backed by its 11 subsidiaries. In addition to Kishugu Clothing, these divisions focus on activities ranging from its core IFM services, including WoF SA, WoF International and Training to Aviation, Fleet Management and Integrated Forestry and the mining industry services.
Widely recognised as international best practice, IFM provides a comprehensive chain of inter-linked services ranging from fire awareness, prevention and early detection activities to risk mapping, hazard identification, prescribed burning, resource sharing and co-ordination and dispatch of fire prevention and firefighting resources, damage rehabilitation and research.