BBF Safety Group – Taking back the SA market, one shoe at a time
With seven safety footwear brands under their umbrella, BBF Safety Group is the largest manufacturer of safety footwear in the country. Peter Gerbrands, group marketing manager, provides insight to the Group’s recent bold and innovative moves
For more than a decade virtually all local manufacturing sectors have been affected by the continual threat of Chinese imports. The South African safety footwear manufacturing industry has certainly been no exception. Imported safety footwear accounted for only 17 percent of the total market in 2005 _ today this figure is 51 percent.
It was thus that, in 2014, five of the most-respected businesses in the industry merged to form South Africa’s largest manufacturer of safety footwear; the BBF Safety Group. Today, the Group operates throughout South Africa, Africa, Australasia, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe.
“In an effort to preserve local manufacturing and save South African jobs, we decided to face the challenge with a merger,” explains Gerbrands.
Collectively, BBF Safety Group shares more than 200 years of experience in Africa and houses seven top South African safety footwear brands _ Bova, Frams, Fuel, Inyati, Lemaitre, Sisi and Wayne.
“This allows us to compete across multiple pricing tiers, and to achieve significant economies of scale. The result is high-quality, locally produced products _ each offering great value for money,” Gerbrands adds.
With Chinese imports dominating the 51 percent of the market that buys economically priced safety footwear, BBF Safety Group knew that this was an area in which to focus. “Previously, this segment of the market was under-serviced,” Gerbrand continues.
“Our merger gave us the ability to produce footwear at the right price point for this segment _ without compromising on quality and service. In 2015, we repositioned Frams, the original South African safety footwear brand, to champion this challenge.”
Frams is safety footwear for those on a budget or for contract workers. It is a product buyers can rely on and it comes with a quality and service guarantee.
“All of our footwear is fully compliant to either SANS/ISO 20345 or EN 20345 standards,” Gerbrand notes.
“Furthermore, the import sector experiences problems with regulatory compliance, aftersales service and delivery lead times. We will be focusing on remedying these issues from within South African borders _ we believe this will allow us to differentiate ourselves,” he continues.
“Market response to our new Frams range has been exceptional. Key to our success will be to ensure that we can continuously meet this demand and deliver on our service promise.
“We’re also expanding further into the African market, which is a key part of our overall business strategy. We believe that we have value to offer these markets, whose needs are in many aspects similar to those of the South African market,” Gerbrands concludes.