20/08/2018 – Stoll in Africa
South Africa and Mauritius: A success story for Stoll
The leading manufacturer of flat knitting machines Stoll based in Reutlingen, has been working with the African market for over 40 years.
For more than 4 decades, Africa has always played a significant role for Stoll. The oldest agency contract (South Africa) dates back to more than 35 years. Especially in South Africa and Kenya Stoll machines, built in the 50s / 60s of the last century, are still running; good care is all, a Stoll machine needs.
For many years, Stoll has successfully served markets such as South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar and the North African states (including Libya). In particular, the market around Madagascar will continue to develop. As one of the sub-Saharan countries, Madagascar enjoys advantages in terms of exports to Europe and the US. Where products are currently knitted to a large extent on hand machines, before long these will be replaced by electronic flat knitting machinery. An important re-launch of locally produced knitwear can also be seen in South Africa, a country which was largely dominated by Chinese imports in the past decade. Mauritius, once the largest producer of fine knitwear in the region, is becoming a hub for luxury cashmere products, knitted for niche markets.
Less and less cheap knitwear from South East Asia is cleared at South African customs. Cheap and low quality knitwear should be slowly banned from imports, says the South African government. Therefore it is offering an attractive incentive program, helping local manufacturers to benefit from “Proudly made in South Africa”. These days, Stoll machines are playing an important role when it comes to the revival of “school sweater production”. The main center of knitting school-sweaters and -cardigans is Newcastle. This city half way between Johannesburg and Durban is very well known for its flat and circular knitting industry. Being present at the right time in the right place with the right product and price is the major reason for the success of Stoll. And this helped Stoll to penetrate one of the largest garment manufacturer in the country.
Within a few months, this customer became one of the biggest flat knitter for school jerseys. But not only school sweaters are produced in South Africa; highly fashionable knitwear, designed by well-known local designers is knitted in Johannesburg and Cape Town on Stoll machines. Also Durban and East London, more known for the manufacturing of Mercedes-Benz cars, are centers for knitwear. Most of South African department stores source knitwear on the East coast. Sourcing companies mainly rely on knitters equipped with Stoll as they appreciate the great flexibility regarding of proven Stoll technology, as well as the fast delivery by Stoll customers. Not to forget to mention, that the oldest flat knitting companies were founded and are still run by German immigrants, coming from the area of Stoll’s hometown Reutlingen. Listening to Stoll`s home dialect more than 10.000 km away, always brings a smile to our faces. Together with one of the oldest Stoll agents, Stoll enjoys an outstanding position in our field.
Mauritius is amongst the oldest producers of flat knitted products in the sub-Saharan region. Dominated once by a few huge producers, equipped with electronic machines, and several small companies, equipped with hand flat machines, the country today shows a different picture. The big structures have either moved to Madagascar due to lower labor cost or have reduced their capacity significantly as huge quantities cannot be produced cost-effectively anymore in Mauritius.
The beauty is, that today we find many small to medium sized flat knitting companies having electronic machines. These companies produce mainly exclusive cashmere products for Europe and the US. Even newcomers, who had no flat knitting machines at all, have realized that there is a way to profit from luxurious knitwear and have invested in Stoll machines. The tourist sector is also a big player on the island as these people buy on a one stop occasion the expensive and luxurious flat knitted products. Therefore existing Stoll customers all maintain their own boutiques in the coastal areas. Interesting enough that also foreign investment is still attracting the island. Neighboring countries have found Mauritius to be the right place to produce quite specialized knitwear and export it to other African countries. Stoll can be very proud to be the leading supplier in the market of flat knitting machines. Together with the local partners, Stoll assure a high level of customer satisfaction in all required fields. Our common aim is to further grow together with existing Stoll customers and potential customers.