THE relocation of apparel retailer Edgars head office from Bulawayo to Harare is set to damage Zimbabwe’s second-largest city’s reputation as the once buoyant industrial hub, a local business association has said.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed concern is moving to the capital as it remodels the business in the face of an influx of clothing sourced from outside the country.
Victor Nyoni, Association of Business in Zimbabwe (ABUZ) chief executive, told The NewsHawks that the decision to move the head office of Edgars to Harare shows that Bulawayo has lost its lustre as an attractive environment for businesses.
“We think that this is a blow to the Bulawayo economy because we have seen companies relocating from Bulawayo to Harare in preference of that environment,” said Nyoni.
Nyoni said that members of ABUZ, including Edgar’s, had previously complained about the difficult operating environment coupled with water issues, which pushed companies to relocate to Harare where business seems to be booming.
“So what we have been saying is that we probably need to make our own environment in Bulawayo more attractive so that these companies do not move away,” he said.
Nyoni said ABUZ was worried that Bulawayo was losing its status as the industrial hub, so they were engaging the ministry of Industry and Commerce to come up with ways to restore the status.
“We are also planning to engage the ministry of Industry and Commerce to think about how we can ensure that Bulawayo goes back to its buoyant status of being an industrial hub,” he added.
ABUZ also lamented how the move would disadvantage the Bulawayo citizens in terms of employment and training, as Edgars was one of the biggest employers in the city.
“We are likely to be left out on certain decisions that are big, which means that they are now going to be made from Harare and we know that employment decisions and stuff like that are normally made at the headquarters and that head office is no longer here,” Nyoni said.
Nyoni also told The NewsHawks that the Edgars decision would also have economic implications on the labour market.
It was revealed to The NewsHawks that employees working at the company headquarters would be required to also relocate to Harare in order to keep their jobs, leaving those who cannot afford relocating stranded without a job.
Nyoni said the association is going to engage Edgars to see how they can maintain the way it has been interacting with Bulawayo for the betterment of locals.
A number of companies have relocated from Bulawayo to Harare over the year, which include Dairibord Zimbabwe Holdings Limited’s Bulawayo branch, that moved its milk production equipment to Harare in 2013 and; Datlabs and Universal Rubber that relocated to Harare in 2011.