The negative socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has not spared the leather industry in Zambia, says Zamleather General Manager Richard Franklin.
He said the industry is feeling the pinch of this pandemic as it has disrupted the way business is done.
Mr Franklin noted that the leather and shoe business heavily relies on movement of people, but COVID-19 has confined people indoors.
“Our industry is generally supported by people moving from point A to B. The more people move, the higher the need for new shoes. However, the virus has confined people to their homes, for quite some time, before the new normal. This, in turn, affects sales due to low demand,” he explained.
Mr Franklin cited Kaleza, a football boot produced by Zamleather, as one of the footwears that had been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the suspension of school classes had impacted sales of its famous Zamshu school shoes.
“We significantly reduced production, or supply, of the famous boot for champions – Kaleza boot – on the market after we noticed a reduction in demand for the boot. This followed the closure of the football season by government in March this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
Mr Franklin was, however, optimistic that the company would increase production of the boot for champions as the football season in Zambia was expected to resume this month under the new normal.
The Zamleather general manager noted that the Zambeef tannery and shoe division managed to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic by adhering to preventive measures set by government and heath institutions such as the World health Organisation.
“We are living in the new normal at our factory. All our staff are masked up, they wash hands frequently, and when you visit our factory, you’ll surely have your hands sanitised right at the entrance as well as your temperature taken. We have taken the fight against this disease very seriously” he said.
Mr Franklin observed that COVID-19 did not severely impact on the company’s safety shoe collection.
“Although it has not been easy being productive under the new normal, our safety shoes have performed fairly well, since most factories and security companies in the country have been operational; therefore, demand for the shoes has been intact,” he said.