Clothing sector fights surge in counterfeit products entering South Africa
A steady increase in the number of street vendors selling counterfeit clothing around the country has led to job and revenue losses for clothing manufacturers, brand licensees and formal retailers, some of whom have now hired private investigators to deal with the problem.Both popular and expensive brands, usually associated with class and high quality, are at risk of being copied or sold as “rip-offs”. During the past financial year the SA Revenue Service (Sars) made 20 000 seizures of illegal goods to the value of almost R1 billion, including more than 750 000 pieces of clothing worth R483 million. Sars said undervalued imports posed a significant risk not only to the fiscus but to local industry and job creation. Adriaan Verhagen, the managing director of Ninian & Lester, the sole licensee of US underwear brand Jockey in South Africa, said this week that counterfeits had to be eradicated as they presented a major threat to local employment. Between 2007 and 2012, Ninian & Lester lost R20 million worth of sales to counterfeits. The company said this figure represented only 5 percent of the problem. It added that this amount could pay for 1 000 machinist jobs for 12 months. Verhagen said the company’s legal cases against counterfeiters had increased to 40 as a result of research done between 2007 and 2012. He said vendors sold fake Jockey socks for R5 a pair, whereas retail stores charged R22.95 for the authentic item.