Calvin Klein, Hilfiger eye Kenya’s planned textile city

Workers make clothes at an EPZ plant in Athi River. Construction of the Textile City will start in July. Photo/FILE

US-based global fashion houses Calvin Klein, Timberland and Tommy Hilfiger are eyeing space in Kenya’s planned Textile City, which will be set up in Athi River.

Construction of the city will start in July. Officials of the top clothing brands were in a delegation of 50 firms that were hosted by the Industrialisation secretary in a three-day fact-finding mission that ends today before the investors move to Uganda.

Industrialisation secretary Adan Mohamed confirmed that plans for establishing the Textile City were at an advanced stage.

“We have picked the sector because of the interest it has attracted from investors and due to its potential for jobs creation,” said Mr Mohamed on Wednesday during a meeting with the investors at the export processing zone complex in Athi River.

The city targets to attract at least 100 investment firms and create more than 200,000 sustainable textile jobs by December 2016, he said.

Investors in the city will enjoy a 10-year corporate and withholding tax holiday, VAT and stamp duty exemptions and utility connections. Enterprises in the city will also be cushioned against regulations which guide minimum wages.

Besides PVH, which deals in Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, other top clothing firms in the delegation included VF Corporation, which owns brands like Wrangler, Timberland and Lee.

“We will set up our representative office by August in Nairobi,” Ran Ranatunga, PVH Far East quality assurance manager told the Business Daily on the sidelines of the meeting.

This will be the firm’s first office in Africa.

Rising wages in China and poor safety records in Bangladesh plants are making countries like Kenya attractive to top European and US fashion retailers.

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