PepClo diversifies during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published: FY2019

  • Manufactured and intellectual capital
  • Building Better Business: Supply chains
  • MM: Maintaining an efficient and effective supply chain
  • MM: Maintaining a low cost of doing business

If the right products don’t get to the right stores on time, all the hard work across the upstream supply chain is wasted and stores are not able to trade.

‘We had no choice. Our people needed work and the country needed masks. We had to open the factory as soon as possible.’ Marthie Raphael, CEO, Pepclo

When a factory that used to produce on average more than 10 million garments a year was brought to a standstill, management had to find a way to keep our employees economically active. We reinvented our product line, and the factory started production 20 days after lockdown was implemented.

The need for masks and protective gowns for front-line staff was immediately identified as a critical need with which the factory could help. With minimal changes to an already seamless production process, the management team made prototypes at home, and finalised product specifications. The necessary approvals and permits were obtained, and plans were put in place to change patterns and materials to accommodate the new product.

The reusable face masks would be made from fabric that the factory had in stock, and the required material was ordered for the disposable protective gowns. All health and safety protocols were put in place, and a small team of front-line staff was called in to test and start the production of the new product lines.

With years of experience and attention to detail, employees showed their ability to adapt and be agile, working in a changed and strict environment, making new products to new specifications.

The quick response time and turn-on showed the agility of a team who were ready and willing to embrace change and make a difference – not only by keeping their company working, but by assisting a country in need. The first 500 gowns and 50 000 face masks to the value of R700 000 were donated to the Western Cape Government, as part of the group’s COVID-19 relief response.

Our values of care and respect shone through as employees returned to work and immediately began to contribute in a positive way.

Reusable face masks, mask filters and disposable protective gowns were introduced as new product lines.

‘We had to think on our feet and find ways to make it work.’ Fatiema Abrahams, production team leader.

‘Making the new products was good for the growth of PepClo and for us.’ Ismaeel Salari, machinist.