Business boom for Woolworths’ suppliers

Rachmat Thomas, Davie Arendse and Ivan Meyer, the owners of Chic Shoes.

Rachmat Thomas, Davie Arendse and Ivan Meyer, the owners of Chic Shoes.

Business is blooming for entrepreneur Jacky Goliath whose determination took her from humble beginnings, growing indigenous plants in a friend’s back yard to becoming a major supplier to a national retailer.

In 2001 Jacky Goliath and her business partner Elton Jefthas, of Simondium in the Western Cape, turned Jefthas’ garden in Kylemore outside Stellenbosch into a nursery.

With their extensive knowledge of local fynbos – gained by working for the Agricultural Research Council for many years – they chose three different species to start with.

Naming their operation De Fynne Nursery, they started with 1 000 plants, but have since expanded the business to a total production of 600 000 plants per year and employ 20 people on a permanent basis.

“When we are busy with bigger projects I also have many temporary employees. Currently I have 45 people on the payroll,” Goliath says.

It was not long before Jefthas’ garden became too cramped for the growing demand for their products and they moved to a 1.5 ha property.

By the end of 2013 they started operations on a 22 ha farm in Paarl that was acquired through the Department of Rural Development.

Their big break came after Woolworths, as part of its enterprise development initiative, decided to stock De Fynne’s products. The retailer also supplied the business with a loan to assist their operation and offers ongoing technical and business support.

“I knew we had to branch out and approach a bigger company to move the business forward. So I decided to ask Woolworths if they wanted my products. The worst that could have happened was them saying no,” says Goliath.

But Woolworths did not say no. The retailer gave them an opportunity to become a supplier and initially agreed to stock one plant, buchu. The rest is history.

Over the years, Woolworths has extended De Fynne’s range to include various species of fynbos, Spekboom, fruit trees, blueberries and lavender.

“It has really been a great. We are wholesalers and our normal customers buy about 10 plants at a time, where Woolworths buys about 500, sometimes a thousand a week. “

What also helped a lot was Woolworths’ financial assistance in terms of shorter payment terms. “So we don’t have to wait 30 days before we are paid for the products supplied.”
Another business benefiting from Woolworths’ enterprise development (ED) programme is Chic Shoes – founded by Rachmat Thomas, Davie Arendse and Ivan Meyer in 2004.

The family-run shoe manufacturing company based in Parow has managed to grow its staff contingent by about 200 over the past two years and now employ 289 workers as a result of its association with the retailer.

“We would have been forced to close our doors a long time ago if it were not for Woolworths,” Thomas said.

Today the company’s orders from Woolworths are 580% more than it was nearly a decade ago when the retailer gave the green light for a once-off trial order of leather pumps.

Following the success of the initial order, the business needed substantial support to deal with the massive orders that followed. Woolworths helped the company with funding as well as priceless support in the form of mentorship from the retailer’s various divisions including their technical, design and buying departments.

She said Woolworths also assisted them by offering shorter payment terms, access to technical engineers who have helped with production efficiency, quantity control, systems upgrades and product testing and other planning.

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