9 Jul 2019

Cactus Outdoor acquires Albion Clothing with hope to drive production back to NZ

2:43 pm on 9 July 2019

A Christchurch clothing company has bought one of the country's largest apparel manufacturers and made a commitment to keep making its products in New Zealand.

A firefighter on scene at an incident. 6 July 2016.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Cactus Outdoor has acquired Albion Clothing for an undisclosed sum, and said it plans to invest more to upgrade and expand facilities.

Albion Clothing manufactures garments for the defence force, fire and emergency, police and others

Cactus director Ben Kepes said the company wanted to make Albion the basis of a strong manufacturing facility that would attract other clothing brands to bring their production back to New Zealand.

"We would absolutely welcome other brands that have made the move offshore to come back home."

In recent years a series of New Zealand outdoor brands have moved some or all of its manufacturing offshore including Macpac, Icebreaker, Fairydown, Swazi and Swandri.

Mr Kepes told Nine to Noon that despite the diminishing sector, both businesses have managed to retain local manufacturing and be profitable.

"We've made a conscious decision to do the right thing, as opposed to maybe doing the lucrative thing. It would definitely be more lucrative for us to have gone offshore a long time ago. We could've grown ... faster arguably, and certainly we could've made more money doing so."

He said the expanded Albion would disprove the talk heard so often in recent years that manufacturing in New Zealand was dead.

"Albion has been going for 40 years, it's been profitable all that time, it's managed to make the highest quality garments for discerning customers, and for me the proof of the pudding is in the eating, that's it's still perfectly viable to do it here," Mr Kepes said.

The advantages overseas manufacturers had for high volume, low-cost clothes manufacturing were also eroding, he said.

Consumers wanted greater transparency about the conditions and ethics of overseas makers, while technology such as robotics and 3D printing was making local production more feasible and viable, he said.

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