New diagnostic tool proves to be a stitch in time

Companies participating in the city-supported cluster programmes in the Cape and KZN Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather (CTFL) manufacturing sectors are growing much faster than the industry average. The member firms in the two clusters have reported that on average sales are 12% higher than pre-pandemic levels and as a result, overall employment is also up by 4%.

Wesley Fallon, the Head of Diagnostics for the KZN Clothing and Textiles Cluster (KZNCTC) and the Cape Clothing and Textiles Cluster (CCTC) says these results are nothing short of remarkable in the current economic climate.

“StatsSA data shows that sales at most CTFL manufacturing companies have only just recovered to pre-pandemic levels. But the companies in the KZNCTC and CCTC are all yielding increased growth and job creation,” says Wesley. “This can be directly attributed to the support programmes funded by the City of Cape Town and the eThekwini Municipality, which are proving to be critical growth enablers for the sector.”

One of the key tools that have contributed to this success is the GrowthFinder Growth and Performance Diagnostic system. Wesley says this is what is giving the CCTC and KZNCTC firms their competitive edge as it helps companies to drive smarter, more strategic decision-making in pursuit of profitable and sustainable growth.

“Before we developed GrowthFinder, our research showed that most manufacturers exist in an information vacuum. They can measure their own performance and capabilities but how do they know what’s really good or bad?  In fact, many don’t measure the right things or sometimes, anything at all,” says Wesley. “Our Diagnostic system has been developed to enable firms in the CTFL sector to develop informed strategies based on commercial insights rather than guesswork,” he adds.

Traditionally, companies could only access the types of insights offered by the modular GrowthFinder Diagnostic through extensive and expensive benchmarking exercises that collate large volumes of often vague market data. Instead, GrowthFinder now assesses performance and opportunities across six growth predictors, all tied together with analysis and a report presentation from an expert Diagnostic Consultant.

“This approach is definitely delivering for our members. The CTFL manufacturing firms participating in our GrowthFinder Diagnostic programme are adding more value to the economy as measured through their increasing Manufacturing Value-Add, which is up an impressive 26% over pre-pandemic levels,” Wesley explains.

In addition to this MVA growth, Wesley says the companies using the GrowthFinder Diagnostic shed fewer jobs during the pandemic and recovered faster as they were able to access best practice learnings and identify key growth opportunities.

“Together, these companies now provide hundreds of dignified, full-time job opportunities in light manufacturing with overall employment up 4% over pre-pandemic levels,” Wesley says.

Speaking on behalf of the eThekwini Municipality, Takalani Rathiyaya, head of the Economic Development Programmes Department says the results delivered by the GrowthFinder Diagnostic for the KZNCTC members have been game-changing.

“Growthfinder is proving to be a critical enabler for sustainable growth and job creation and it has given our members a strategic advantage that is already paying dividends in the marketplace,” says Takalani.

Wesley says that this is just the start for the GrowthFinder Diagnostic with much more to come: “We will complete over 100 GrowthFinder Diagnostic assessments in 2022, making manufacturers smarter and helping to continue to create more full-time job opportunities in light manufacturing.”