Italian leather makers invest R39 million

Posted On Monday, 03 September 2001 03:01 Published by
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TWO of Italy's top automotive leather companies have opened a R39-million leather plant in the Eastern Cape town of Uitenhage, which forms part of the Nelson Mandela Metro.

TWO of Italy's top automotive leather companies have opened a R39-million leather plant in the Eastern Cape town of Uitenhage, which forms part of the Nelson Mandela Metro.
The re-tanning and finishing plant is a joint venture between Mario Levi SPA and AMBRA LEATHER.
Mario Levi was founded in 1946, and is a leading supplier of quality automotive leather. AMBRA, a
world leader in the production of furniture leather, has been developing specialist automotive
products for more than a decade.
Mario Levi Manufacturing South Africa has an interest in a wet blue plant near Pilansberg and
operates from the new Uitenhage plant, which is producing leather primarily for Alfa Romeo.
The new Uitenhage factory has created 120 jobs, which could increase to 150 as production rises,
according to managing director Tony Stottelaar.
A further 100 jobs have been created in Rosslyn outside Pretoria, where the Lear corporation sews
the seat components together before they are exported.
The Eastern Cape plant is capable of processing up to 1500 hides a day, he says.
The hides are retanned, dyed, finished and cut into components in the Uitenhage plant, which is one
of the most modern facilities of its type in the world.
"This is an all-new investment, with the very latest technology. It shows that the Italians have a
lot of confidence in the future of the South African motor industry," says Mr Stottelaar.
One of the main factors which attracted the investment was the government's Motor Industry
Development Plan (MIDP), which makes it possible for OEMS to offset some of their import duties
against the export earnings of the leather.
"Automotive leather is a high-value export which is much sought after by South African vehicle
distributors. We have the capacity to supply other marques as well," says Mr Stottelaar.
Negotiations have already begun with other motor manufacturers.
"Mario Levi is an innovative company which works with vehicle designers to develop new
applications for motor vehicles.
As a supplier to original equipment manufacturers in Europe, the new plant is designed to meet
international quality and environmental standards.
"We already have ISO 9002 accreditation, and by the end of the year we will have TS 16949, quality
certification. By that time we will also have met the ISO 14000 environmental standards," he says.
Effluent is handled on-site in a plant designed by Ninham Shand in conjunction with Envirotan.
"The municipality is very satisfied with the quality of the water we are putting back into the
system," says Mr Stottelaar.
The solid waste is dried into cakes, which are then safe for disposal.
Uitenhage was chosen as the site of the new factory because of the assistance received from the
former Uitenhage municipality, and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC).
"Uitenhage really went out of its way to make it possible for us to invest here. The city council
has been fantastic. "We also had very good assistance from the ECDC," he says.
Work started on the new factory in October 2000 and production began in May 2001.


Publisher: Cape Business News
Source: Cape Business News

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