BLANKET manufacturer, National Blankets, is reeling from an acute shortage of raw materials that has battered margins and knocked down operating capacity by
70%, a company executive told businessdigest.
The raw materials crisis has been blamed on chronic shortages of foreign currency for imports.
This is against the background of reports that the government extended funds to the Bulawayo-based company for the purchase of raw materials, but this had failed to inject life into the company’s operations.
National Blankets managing director Jeremy Musgrave said the company was operating below 30% of its capacity due to the critical shortages.
“National Blankets is currently operating at an average of about 30% capacity. This varies from 25% to 60% depending on the volume of raw materials received,” said Musgrave.
Musgrave said despite an injection of funds by government, efforts to obtain foreign currency at the interbank rates for imports had been in vain.
“While we greatly appreciate the assistance, concerns are that initial efforts to obtain hard currency for imported material at interbank rates have been unsuccessful,” he said.
The poor production output as a result of constrained operations had impacted on the company’s exports.
“The export market has been more positive than in previous years but unfortunately the company could have performed better if we had the access to raw material,” Musgrave said.
He however refused to reveal the amount received from the government but said the funds availed were for the purchase of raw material to boost operations.
Musgrave said the advancement of the government grant under the Distressed Companies Funds had saved workers their jobs.
He indicated that National Blankets’ dominant export market was within the southern African regions, especially South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
“As with many manufacturers, we have not had a good year although conditions in the later part of the year improved,” said Musgrave.