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If you buy a T-shirt in PNG and find the brand name ‘Kumul’ on the label, you could reflect on the success story of the Woo family from Rabaul, now fifth generation in Papua New Guinea.

Fifteen years ago they joined the ranks of the country’s clothing manufacturers. Today they are leaders in the field. Out of a total of twenty seven, “Woo Textiles” is one of the handful of PNG clothing manufacturers who are capable of competing in the overseas marketplace.

Beginning from scratch, the firm pursued the conviction that local advertisers would be glad to see their names in bright colours on the back of the ubiquitous T-shirt. To exploit this idea, they launched Woo Textiles.

woo3The entire range of plant for the manufacture of the shirts was brought in from Japan. Technicians from Hong Kong were commissioned to install the machines in the new factory at Gordons in Port Moresby. Selected group of Papua New Guineans were trained to operate and service them. Months of “hands-on” training for seamstresses followed.

“We were right about the T-shirts,” says current managing director Murray Woo, son of James. “They were immediately accepted in the market-place. But then we needed another idea.”

It was not long in coming. PNG-ans are fanatical about sport – rugby league for the boys, net-ball for the girls, as well as tennis, volley-ball, basket-ball, softball, golf and darts. Teams for all these games need their own individual ‘strip.’woo2

“We’re proud of the fact that we manufacture specifically to the requirements of our customers-colours, logos, stripes, whatever, ” says Murray.

And the quality of the product was up to scratch too. So much so that Woo soon won the right to manufacture rugby uniforms under licence for Westmont Active Sportswear of Australia.

Now the product rwoo1ange has encompassed the flags for the 9th South Pacific Games and sports uniforms for the Commonwealth Games in Canada. The company’s school, corporate and leisure wear is available at retail outlets nationally. Woo Textiles employs and trains many Papua New Guineans in skills which not only equip them to earn a living, but also enable them to design, cut and sew for their families! A double advantage for them!