South African-headquartered Narrowtex is looking to grow its presence in the UK market through the company’s selection of narrow fabrics. Chris Fell, general manager, Narrowtex, recently told Packaging Scotland about standing out in a competitive market, the potential for growth, and new product innovations.
Q) What’s the history of the business and how has it grown over the years?
A) Narrowtex was established in 1969. We manufacture a large range of quality narrow fabrics including industrial webbing, seatbelt webbing, curtain header tape, and our core range of lashing and strapping.
With over 50 years of experience, technical expertise and premium quality standards, we have developed into a reputable and trusted business partner offering manufacturing excellence to local and international markets. We are a member of the NTX Group, a subsidiary of SA Bias Industries Pty Ltd. Over the years Narrowtex has achieved continued growth, especially in the international market where we are supplying to five different continents. We expect this growth trend to continue into the future.
Q) What can you tell us about your lashing and strapping range, and how do these products stand out in a competitive market?
A) Our quality lashing and strapping range includes woven polyester lashing and strapping, composite/cord strapping, and bonded/hot melt strapping. We have over 25 years of experience exporting our range and are well established in the international market. Our superior quality control measures and supporting accreditations especially stand out in the market. Our accreditations for the range include ISO9001, AAR (Association of American Railways) and DNV.GL certifications. Our seatbelt webbing range is IATF16949-certified and is testament to the standard of our quality control in our in-house laboratory.
Certificates of Conformance from our in-house laboratory can be provided with each batch of product supplied. We have also established an Environmental Management System that is in conformance with the ISO 14001:2015 International Environmental Management System.
Our high quality, ability to provide innovative solutions and our custom printing and dyeing facilities makes us an attractive option for importers internationally including the UK.
Q) How much potential do you see for increasing your presence in the UK market? What are your plans for growing the business in the UK?
A) We currently see a lot of potential to grow our offering into the UK with our large range of high quality narrow fabrics. Our plans include follow up face-to-face visits with prospective customers looking to import our products into the UK.
We will continue to market our range through the various mediums available along with participation in upcoming trade exhibitions in the UK. South Africa and the UK have a long-established trading history with good trade relations and trade agreements in place. Narrowtex’ s close proximity to a major seaport (Durban) gives good access to the shipping routes from South Africa to all of the main UK ports. The combination of these factors makes Narrowtex an excellent high quality and cost-effective supply option for UK importers.
Q) What have been some of the most memorable projects you’ve been involved in?
A) We enjoy working in tandem with prospective customers to develop innovative solutions to their challenges. Our most memorable and satisfying projects involve providing customised solutions to customer requirements. Working closely with customers to understand their requirements, developing solutions to meet these requirements and then supplying product accordingly, provides great satisfaction to the Narrowtex team.
Q) Anything you can tell us about future product innovations? Are environmental considerations becoming more prominent?
A) We are constantly developing new product and more efficient and innovative manufacturing processes in our factory. As the market changes and our customers’ needs change, we work closely with our customer base to re-engineer current product ranges and develop new ranges to meet customer requirements.
Environmental and social responsibilities are key in our development as a company and group at large. We participate in a number of community development projects including a creche to care for children in need. We work closely with the education department to assist newly qualified individuals to gain valuable work experience with our learnership programmes and provide bursaries for students in need.
Our environmental management system is in conformance to the ISO14001:2015 system, but this is certainly not where our efforts stop. In March this year, we completed the first phase of our solar energy project, aimed at increasing our level of self-sufficiency in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way.
We now produce more than 33% of our energy requirements and the intention is that we will expand on this into the future. Rainwater tanks have been installed to reduce our water consumption and recycling of waste is of extreme importance to us. A number of other projects aimed at reducing our carbon footprint are also currently under consideration.