LUKE MORTIMER, Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin,
November 14, 2020
A GOLD Coast clothing manufacturer has not only survived COVD-19, but thrived on the back of booming online sales.
While some businesses have been forced to cut staff, Burleigh Heads clothing manufacturer Leina & Fleur has been looking to add more to its team of less than 20.
The Ern Harley Drive venture, run by business partners Leina Broughton and Fleur Richardson, began more than six years ago.
Recently, Leina & Fleur was able to buy a new cutting machine with a grant through the federal government's manufacturing modernisation fund. "Being able to automate garment cutting, a key functionality of our production cycle, will allow us to increase our profit efficiencies by 30 percent, whilst retaining the manual labour to retrain in this new technology," Ms Richardson said.
"We are Australian-owned, designed and made. This is the key foundation of our business - even more so now than ever. It's taking out the manual labour of physically cutting a garment out. The speed is like 10 times faster than manually cutting."
"The outlay for all of this was $250,000 and the government very generously gave us $100,000."
Ms Richards said the machine would allow the business to expand.
"We like the idea of potentially helping any external labels that need to have product cut if we have the time," she said.
"It's becoming a very attractive prospect for businesses that have been offshore to find local manufacturers again. It's the quality, it's the speed to market we achieve."
Ms Richardson said being based online had been the "saving grace" during the pandemic.
"Obviously, like everyone else, we had a knee-jerk reaction and went 'what on Earth is happening here?' We settled down, worked out how to tackle it, the team completely got behind us and we've achieved amazing things. We're just looking toward the future now."
Ms Richardson said manufacturing on the Gold Coast - a leading sector in the city - was thriving, despite some misconceptions.
"The industry is still alive - there is a preconception that manufacturing in Australia is dead. However, we are working with some of the most experienced and skilled craftspeople who create incredibly beautiful finishes and all of this with speed to market."