We Had A Chat With The CEO Of The Largest Clothing Supplier In The Southern Hemisphere
You may not have heard the name TCI Apparel before, but I’m willing to bet you’ve come across something that they’ve toiled over.
From humble beginnings here in South Africa, they have now grown to be a global leader in apparel design and manufacturing – and, quite incredibly, the largest clothing supplier in the southern hemisphere.
Not only do they supply the likes of Woolworths, Truworths, Edcon Group and Queenspark, but they also export to top brands like River Island, Top Shop, Miss Selfridges, Urban Outfitters, and New Look amongst others.
We reached out to Herman Pillay, TCI’s chairman and CEO, and asked him to tell us more about what his company is all about.
What makes TCI different from other apparel design companies?
I believe that the secret to a successful design centre is to have successful employees. Ensuring that our employees stay healthy, motivated and inspired is of high priority and speaks to the ethos of our group. Providing a space to enhance creativity and well being separates us from the rest.
What is your favourite thing about South Africa and South Africans?
The rich history of perseverance and courage in the face of adversity. This is engraved in the DNA of all South Africans. The level of creativity that exists in South Africa is not sufficient shared with the rest of the world and we have proved over time that we can compete with the best in the world. South African design has raised a lot of attention abroad and we have many countries now drawing inspiration from Africa.
What challenges do you face that are uniquely South African?
Resistance to change. It is this very fear that restricts our growth. We have overcome many challenges of indignation and our pioneers have fought for freedom, yet we have not allowed this to fully liberate us socially and economically. This requires unconditional support from government in order for us as South African to elevate our country.
Can you tell us a bit about the TCI Design Centre we’ve heard about?
It’s hip, it’s happening and relevant in the day and age we live in.
How do you guys ensure you minimise your environmental footprint as a company?
We have invested a large amount of money is this area. In fact our design centre is the first green design centre is South Africa. We have planted many trees and plants around the design centre thereby reducing our carbon footprint. We have employed a full-time horticulturist to ensure that the sustainable vegetable garden is well maintained, so that the harvest is sufficient to feed and nourish our staff. We do not discard any waste at the facility and all discarded food or vegetables that are past their shelf life, we recycle back to the vegetable garden in the form of compost.
The seeds for our vegetable are grown and prepared onsite. We have dug a borehole 100 metres into the ground and have reduced our dependency on the council. The water is recycled and is used in all our lavatories. All our sewing machines have the latest innovation in energy consumption and have reduced our electricity consumption drastically.
All light fittings throughout our design centre are energy saving. Our living walls throughout our centre further contributes to the environment. We will, in the new year, start our project to install solar panels throughout the design centre.
What steps do you have in place to nurture talent in fields like design and other related fields?
We possess a fully accredited training college that speaks to this very question. We have immersed ourselves in everything that is related to fashion in our country. We also run a talent agency that is consistently on the lookout for rising creative abilities, and the future leaders of our sector.
What makes you most proud of what you’ve achieved at TCI?
Seeing us enter in the marketplace as underdogs with minimal confidence from both customers and suppliers, only to rise as a phoenix and become the largest clothing supplier in the southern hemisphere.
What are your plans for the future?
Growth, job security and business sustainability centred around people, planet and profit.
Wise words from someone who has overseen an incredible rise to the top.
You can find out more about TCI Apparel on their site HERE.
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