Footprint to Africa interviewed Mr. Samuel Hemans-Arday, Deputy Marketing Manager of Akosombo Textiles Limited, Ghana to shed light on the operations of the company and its impact in the industrial development of the continent, where it has branches in about six countries.
Give us some background about ATL.
ATL is a premier textiles company in Ghana, a household name in terms of quality and beautiful textile fabrics. We are proud to be part of the CHA group of companies, a leading textile group in the world and a multinational conglomerate. The company employs about 1,100.
What unique value does ATL offer?
ATL is the only vertically integrated textile manufacturing company in Ghana. We print customized design and fabrics for companies and other institutions that bring their own designs to be printed or can take advantage of our design studio to create individual designs. Our colored Fancy and wax print product ranges are classified under ATL Brand, Treasure Brand, ABC Wax Brand, Inspiration Brand and Premium Brand that can be used for any occasion.
What is the quantity of exports a year?
ATL’s high margin products are exported to other African countries, like the ABC, ATL WAX. When it comes to exports, we are part of CHARR textile group, we have sister companies in Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Niger and Cameroon. We sell to the group which is fixed but it is open so we get clients from outside the group. In 2013 the Company exported goods worth GHc11.04 million. ATL recorded GHC5.85 million worth of exports in 2014, and more than GHC4.3 million in 2015.
With Woodin, Printex and other brands on the market, how does ATL appeal to its target market?
ATL is known for quality wax products. That is our core strength and core value. We have the DAVIVA brand, TREASURE, EXCELLENCE. In order to reach the youth we have collaborations with halls of universities and polytechnics. They use our fabrics in celebrating their hall weeks. We also support fashion shows, beauty pageants to display the fabrics. Our market share that we lost was not to competitors but to the influx of cheaper copies of our fabrics from Asia.
ATL recently won GEPA awards. Which categories were the awards and how did ATL achieve that?
In the last five years, we’ve been winning gold awards for exporting cotton fabrics. We are hoping that for the 2016 we will move from the gold awards to platinum awards. The requirement is to export materials and the evidence that revenue came into Ghana and taxes paid. We intend to meet the criteria for platinum award.
How does ATL come by its fabric patterns or designs?
As part of being ahead of competition, we invested a lot in a design studio with a collection of students, usually with an art background. WE generate our designs internally. As part of imparting into the youth, we allow internships and industrial attachments; we take the students around the country to places that inspire them to come up with designs.
How has the importation of cheaper fabrics and copying of textile designs affected ATL’s business?
Products come into the country illegally, with no duties paid on those goods. They are fake copies of ATL designs and brands. Because those goods smuggled into the country and do not pay any duties, the prices of the fabrics are very low. And then end-user feels that the local products are expensive. Currently because of the challenges, the local textiles industries, Printex, GTP and ATL produce 3X a week, instead of running the machines for 5X a week. For you to achieve 50% of the capacity it is supposed to be run five times a week on three shifts: morning afternoon and night.
What measures do you suggest will promote the growth of local businesses in the country?
The government can give a concessionary tariff for the industries for two years, in terms of energy and water for all. When it comes to the interest rate, the cost of borrowing is too high for companies. 30-32 per cent is too high for companies to invest and then reap profits and pay back the loan. The forex, the currency is also not too stable. For instance; you import raw materials at a particular price and then you produce and fix a selling price. You import again after three months only to find that the currency has devalued by a certain percentage. Then you need to increase your price but you cannot pass that on to the consumer so the company has to absorb the cost. But if the currency is stable then it helps everyone.
How does ATL intend to recover its market share?
We hope to increase our market share by 15 – 20% irrespective of the challenges we are facing with the influx of fake brands or competition. We will introduce new products, two brands giving consumers new products, styles that they can associate with.