Rex Trueform in the age of globalization

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis focuses on the closure of the Rex Trueform manufacturing plant in Salt River in 2005. Although of a contemporary nature, it draws from the historical experience of the South African economy, the clothing industry in general and Rex Trueform in particular. This thesis argues that the claims made by companies in the clothing sector including Rex Trueform about globalization were disingenuous. It shows that although South Africa's economy had a long history of tariff protection and government incentives; this did not prejudice exports. Despite the lack of an export culture within the national economy, Rex Trueform supplied out an export market even in times of national economic stagnation. The research shows that Rex Trueform's claim that the reason for leasing its Salt River manufacturing plant was its unprofitability due to 'unhealthy competition', caused by globalization should not be accepted at face value. Rather Rex Trueform migrated up the value chain into retailing cheaper imported garments and needed to shed its manufacturing arm. To support this hypothesis, the research examined the company's involvement in the international market up to 1994 when South Africa rejoined the global market economy by way of comparison with its activities between 1994 and 2005 when it finally leased its Salt River manufacturing plant for five years to the House of Monatic. The study shows that although Rex Trueform was forced by changing market conditions to move up the value chain and shed its manufacturing division, many questions remain unanswered.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 59-72).