The Spectrum Group (PTY) LTD   Fargo
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A.K. Does It His Way!

When Abdul Kader 'AK' Shaikh left the family business, Hopewell Footwear, to found the Spectrum Group in 1993, he did so in belief that local manufacturing could remain viable if it offered value-for-money footwear. For most of the next eight years, that meant, among other things, rented, cramped accommodation - on three sites eventually - and an office shared with the Designer and myriad samples and shoe boxes.

However, in late 2000, construction started on the group's new 3000m2 home at 224 Inanda Rd, Springfield Park. Not many people in the footwear industry have the confidence to invest in anything more than is absolute necessary, and certainly not in face brick factories. But AK views the consolidation of the group into its own premises premises as vital to its ongoing competitiveness. And the face brick and paved parking area? Might as well do things properly, he says. Suppliers might have said a little prayer each night that AK did indeed know what he was doing, but he kept his own counsel, started down the critics and the creditors, and did it anyway.

His new office could house a small closing room, and Mike Conradie, who heads up range building and development, and marketing, has his own office - his own department - complete with Shoemaster CAD system and Nestor Pro automatic cutting system. AK isn't a believer in outsourcing. The group's bottomstock plant turns out 100% of its requirements, and he wants to become more self-sufficient, more 'vertical' to give himself more flexibility on pricing. "I buy fashion," he says, "but I prefer to produce my own basics."

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