Afromerino full production soon

13 March 2003

Afromerino Produce (Pty) Ltd, South Africa's first dedicated merino wool-on tannery for apparel and other high value end products at Bronkhorstspruit, has started producing, and expects to be in full production by the end of June. Owned and financed by a group of Bulgarian investors, construction and installation of equipment began in September 2002 and was expected to be complete by the end of March. Total capacity will be 1,000 pieces/day. Manager Theo Ignatov said the investors chose South Africa for their project because of 'the good raw material sources needed for production and because of the proper quality of South African raw sheepskins corresponding to our product.' Currently, South Africa's sheepskin industry - merino and dorper - is tightly controlled by a handful of traders and of the estimated 2.5-3 million merino skins available each year, all but a miniscule percentage are exported, mostly raw. Previous tanning projects have concentrated on producing skins for paint rollers and small quantities are produced for various local uses. Ignatov said Afromerino had chosen to set up in the Ekandustria industrial area outside Bronkhorstspruit, 600-800 km from the main merino farming areas of the Eastern Cape and Free State, 'due to the assistance and the excellent conditions provided by the Mpumalanga Investment Initiative, Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation, and government and administration officials in Mpumalanga Province.' He said Afromerino had 'one of the best sheepskin experts' from Bulgaria and that it would produce a 'highly diversified range' of products, mostly for export. After market research and 'a profound analysis of the business environment in the country', Ignatov said 'there may be interest in buying our own sheep farm to provide flexibility and continuity in raw material sourcing.' Visit their website at [email protected]

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