The island’s clothing firms — which six months ago were absorbing the costs of high oil prices, a strong Mauritius rupee and the vicious slowdown abroad — say the industry has emerged from the first half of 2009 in better shape than expected
We have steadied our sales and expect to break even this year which given the difficult trading circumstances is a good performance,” Harold Mayer, chief executive officer of Ciel Textiles, told Reuters by telephone from Mauritius..
Textiles contribute 6.5 percent of gross domestic product and provide 11 percent of jobs, according to official data. But a slowdown in developed economies has been worrying officials who fear it will hurt key export markets for textiles…
The government has cut its growth forecast to 2-2.2 percent and has approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank (AfDB) for precautionary loans.
.Ciel Textiles produces T-shirts and shirts for stores such as Marks & Spencer Group Plc and Next in Britain and Spanish fashion chain Zara, which is owned by Europe’s biggest clothing retailer Inditex..
.”Most of our customers are trading at 5-10 percent less than previously but we have held our market share, perhaps even increased it slightly, with no huge drop in turnover,” said Mayer, adding that the outlook still remained difficult.
Listed on Mauritius’ secondary Development and Enterprise Market, Ciel Textiles shares have risen 5.45 percent in the last month to 5.8 rupees. That’s still 39 percent down on six months ago and compares to a high of 11.8 rupees on Feb. 19, 2008..
.In December, the government unveiled a more than $300 million stimulus package, prioritising the textiles sector and saving more than 1,700 jobs, according to official data.
Manufacturers say an over-valued rupee came close to ruining the sector, a traditional cornerstone of the $9 billion economy.
“The harm they caused last year cost us billions of rupees,” said Mario Julienne, CEO of the Coronna Clothing Company, which produces top-end suits and jackets for the London market…
Julienne cautioned that uncertainty surrounding the global economy meant the more positive outlook could quickly reverse..
“.Against the British pound, the rupee traded at 52.08 rupees at 1200 GMT, a 14 percent depreciation against last year’s high of 45.47 in May…”
“The local unit has also weakened against the euro, trading 15.6 percent lower at 44.84 on Wednesday compared to a high of 37.84 in Oct. 27, 2008..”
“.This week the central bank held interest rates steady at 5.75 percent despite appeals from exporters for a currency depreciation. The governor said that would be “irresponsible”..”
“.The Mauritius Exporters Association (MEXA) said the shift in the exchange rate had already shored up orders in time for the key British market’s peak buying period of March-June…”
“Despite the slowdown, the UK market has not showed weakness. Indeed it has been surprisingly stable and strong,” the group’s chairman Ahmed Parkar told Reuters..”
“.”Maybe there has been a softening of prices but if you’re product is strong there will always be demand for clothing, unless the world is to go naked,” he joked.”