Merlin to reopen in June


Martin Moyo

BULAWAYO — One of the city’s oldest textile companies, Merlin, will resume operations in June, after it shut down nearly five-years ago.
A top textile maker, Merlin was one of the firms affected by de-industrialisation which has resulted in the closure of many industries in Bulawayo.
Merlin became redundant after it was put under provisional judicial management in 2011, battling debts to the tune of US$4 million.
Initial plans to resuscitate the company failed last year after potential investors and some creditors clashed over the appointment of Harare-based Cecil Madondo, of Tudor House, as judicial manager.
Madondo was accused of allegedly failing to come up with a plan to revamp the firm and failing to present a progress report to shareholders and the Master of the High Court.
Delma Lupepe, a shareholder at the textile company, was upbeat this week that operations would resume in June.
“We are looking at re-opening in three months time; that much I can assure will happen. We have secured capital injection to the tune of US$30 million and it is already sitting in the bank,” Lupepe said.
“I will be doing final meetings with our investors on Tuesday and will then be in a position to give further progress. The investors we have secured are not local; they are from outside the country.”
Lupepe was not willing to disclose the identities of the investors, but speculation is that they are from Japan.
“I will check with them if they want to be identified and will then advise,” he said.
Lupepe said the textile giant would gradually absorb its old workforce and is targeting recruiting at least 500 workers in a two-phased strategy to kick start productivity.
The company is set to adopt a revised business model that would include the manufacturing of diapers and sanitary ware.
Bulawayo mayor, Martin Moyo said there was excitement among city fathers over the prospect of Merlin’s return to operations.
“It really would add value to the city if Merlin does really open. It would be a good thing and we as Bulawayo would be excited about that. We already have one textile firm, Archer Clothing, which is doing well and we are happy about it. Merlin’s resumption of operations would help add impetus to growth objectives of the city,” Moyo said.
Archer Clothing was also once under liquidation before it received capital injection from Harare-based firm, Paramount Garments, in 2014.
The textile industry in Zimbabwe has suffered from an influx of cheap second hand clothes and cheaper imports from China, which has hampered its profitability leading to the closure of firms such as Textile Mills and David Whitehead.

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