Workers with some of the shoes made by Allimor Footwear.
DURBAN - A Chatsworth-based manufacturer of ladies’ footwear is setting its sights on the export market.

Allimor Footwear, which manufactures ladies footwear for the mass market, has survived tough economic conditions to stay in business.

The small family business was started in 1991 by Morris Marimuthoo, a former boilermaker who turned into a professional dressmaker and an astute businessman.

Initially, the small factory produced approximately 1 000 pairs of shoes a day. With the growth of the business over the past 28 years, the factory now manufactures more than 6 000 pairs a day.

Marimuthoo said while the company was able to grow, it was not without obstacles ranging from increased footwear imports from China to the tough local economic conditions.

The company, which employs 196 people of which 95% are women, already supplies local chain stores and mini-chains. Plans are now afoot to export to the rest of Southern Africa.

“Our intention is to broaden our footwear range to include high-end ladies’ fashion footwear for the niche market,” said Marimuthoo.

“While being ideal for the sourcing of raw materials and local customers in KZN, the Allimor Footwear factory in Chatsworth could not be stretched beyond the current capacity. Hence, there was a need to find additional premises,” said Marimuthoo.

In an effort, to grow the business three years ago, Marimuthoo approached the National Empowerment Fund for R12.2 million finance to expand to Ladysmith in KwaZulu Natal.

“This factory predominantly services the Gauteng market and is ideal for sourcing labour due to high level of unemployment in the Ezakheni Area of Ladysmith,” said Marimuthoo.