Danam competes in lucrative garments segment through staff upskilling.
MDF supported Danam (Fiji) Limited to diversify production of new certified structural firefighting garments. This involved engaging technical personnel to provide specialised training to ensure operational processes meet customer standards and to enhance staff productivity.
Danam (Fiji) Limited is a large garment manufacturer and exporter that specialises in woven apparel. The company manufactures clothing for some well-known brands such as Harley Davidson, RM Williams and Rodd & Gunn Jeans for the Australian and New Zealand markets. The company has been in operation since 1986 and is based in Lautoka, Fiji. The company employs around 580 workers of which 80% are women.
The members of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) industry in Fiji manufacture a diverse range of garments from sports apparel to ready-made formal wear. Fiji enjoys a comparative advantage of short orders with quick turn-around time for garment exports to Australia and New Zealand. In addition, Fijian garment manufacturers also have a competitive advantage of manufacturing niche garments – such as specialised uniforms. This line of work focuses more on quality than on cost competition, bringing in better margins. To maintain this advantage, garment companies in Fiji have had to invest heavily in equipment and in the training of staff.
Danam is the first company in Fiji to diversify into manufacturing certified specialised structural firefighting clothing. Given their previous experience in making specialised garments they were able to secure a three-year contract with an Australian buyer. This has created new employment opportunities at the factory for women and men in the wider western division where formal jobs for those with limited skills and are in short supply.
In Fiji, garment factories provide basic entry-level training to staff during recruitment, which is rarely supplemented. Manufacturing niche garments requires a high degree of skill and specialist training however; as some factories had not invested in the necessary training, they had been unable to compete and had closed down. While Danam was well- placed to take advantage of the higher profit potential available in niche manufacturing, it needed support to ensure that its products would maintain the high standards required from its Australian buyer.
MDF supported Danam to engage a qualified garment specialist to train local staff in producing high-quality certified firefighting equipment. As production times decreased and standards increased, turnaround times reduced and Danam improved its competitive advantage, as they can now produce two different types of firefighting suits. In turn, Danam were able to hire more workers and give existing workers more hours, translating into an increase in weekly wages for employees at the factory.
By tapping into this niche market and proving their commitment to quality, Danam was also able to secure clients in the retardant garments (electrical workwear garments) sector.
Industry insights suggest that based on Danam’s success, at least two other large garment manufacturing companies are considering adding firefighting garments to their portfolio in the western division of Fiji.