In the late 1930’s Jacques Louis Hau came to South Africa from Belgium. He was an experienced tailor and arrived with just enough money to buy a piece of land in Salt River, on which he would eventually build his business premises. He established Jacque Hau (Et Cie), a manufacturing business in order to supply children’s clothing to the open market.
In the mid 1940’s, his eldest daughter, Valerie, left the business and established Valerie Hau (Et Cie) next door to her father’s business. Her focused efforts in the lingerie and underwear categories saw her business grow into a national enterprise.
In a few years, the business had grown to such a point that Jacques convinced his son, Victor, to leave school at the age of 16 and join the family business. Victor, the 2nd generation, remained active in the business until he retired.
During the 1960’s Woolworths, a leading South African retailer, approached Jacques Hau (Et Cie) with the request to make men’s pyjamas exclusively for them. Victor agreed and the business was rightsized in order to provide a focused and dedicated manufacturing service for Woolworths.
In 1972, on the back of the growth which came with the Woolworths account, history repeated itself as Victor asked his son, David, to leave school at the age of 16 and join the family business. During the 1970’s, 3rd generation David Hau began to assume leadership of the business which enabled 2nd generation Victor Hau to retire in 1979.
In 1980 David convinced his brother, Gavin a recently qualified Chartered Accountant to join the business. Gavin brought the necessary financial rigour to the business during the period of unprecedented growth which followed.
In 1982, Woolworths asked Jacques Hau Clothing to manufacture their range of boys wear. In response, the business re-engineered itself and over the next four years, grew from its current compliment of 70 people to a team of 170 people.
In 1985, Woolworths asked Jacques Hau Clothing to manufacture 50,000 pairs of trousers. The Hau brothers managed to purchase a business which was about to go into liquidation that had both the equipment and requisite skills and fulfilled their promise to deliver on this request. As a result the business grew to a staff compliment of 220 people forcing them to move from the Salt River premises to Landsdowne.
In 1990, on the back of growing demand, the business expanded to include more than 300 people and the space occupied become unable to meet their needs. Jacques Hau Clothing bought a piece of ground and built the existing head office on it. Growth continued through the 1990’s and by the end of the millennium the business employed more than 550 people.
In 2005, Gavin Hau retired and David Hau decided to lead the business in an untested direction. China presented an unknown threat as they became world leaders in produced and export ready-made garments. Rather than shy away, Jacques Hau Clothing embraced this opportunity and actively engaged with the Chinese manufacturing offering. By 2006 the business offered a combination of import and local sewing minutes which proved to be a very worthwhile option.
By 2007, as the cost of production in the South African environment continued to increase, Jacque Hau Clothing began to seek labour at lower cost. In September 2009 they set up operations in Lesotho.
Jacques Hau Clothing purchases Nyenye Factory in Maputsoe, Lesotho from Seardel and renames the factory, Letsema Textiles (‘Letsema’ means people working in unity).
The Company continues to diversify its customer base and commences producing garments for Truworths, TFG and Edgars, amongst others.
From humble beginnings more than 70 years ago, this 4th generation family-owned company continues to deliver service excellence.