Coltejer, the leading textile company in Colombia, recently announced the liquidation of its last five employees and its decision to focus on selling its properties. This move marks the end of an era for the company, which played a significant role in the country’s industrial development. Founded in 1907 with just 12 workers and four looms, Coltejer grew to become one of the largest textile companies in Latin America, employing up to 17,000 workers in the 1970s and 1980s. However, a combination of factors, including low production, smuggling, government policies, and the pandemic, contributed to its decline. This article explores the reasons behind Coltejer’s closure and its implications for the textile industry in Colombia.
After 115 years of tradition , the company stated:
“We would like to report that Coltejer SA unilaterally terminated the last employment contracts that were in force. It will continue with the actions tending to the sale of the properties located in the Municipality of Itagüí and the lease of warehouses in the same sector”.
Factors Contributing to Coltejer’s Closure:
Coltejer’s closure did not happen overnight; it was the result of a long-term decline. The company faced several challenges, including low production, which led to a decline in competitiveness, as well as the smuggling of fabrics, which undermined the domestic market. Moreover, the government’s policy changes, such as the removal of import duties on textiles, further eroded Coltejer’s competitiveness. These factors, combined with bad management decisions, led to the company’s downfall.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the final blow for Coltejer. The textile industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, with a decline in demand for textiles and clothing worldwide. Coltejer, like many other textile companies, was unable to cope with the economic shock caused by the pandemic.
Implications for the Textile Industry in Colombia:
Coltejer’s closure has significant implications for the textile industry in Colombia. First, it represents a loss of jobs and skills in the sector, which may take years to recover. Second, it undermines the country’s industrial development, as Coltejer was one of the few remaining large textile companies in Colombia. Third, it highlights the need for the government to develop policies that support the textile industry and promote competitiveness.
The closure of Coltejer raises important questions about the future of the textile industry in Colombia. How can the country develop a competitive and sustainable textile industry? What policies can the government implement to support the industry? What can be learned from Coltejer’s experience?
One possible solution is to focus on sustainable production practices and innovation. By adopting sustainable production practices, textile companies in Colombia can reduce their environmental impact, increase their competitiveness, and appeal to socially conscious consumers. Innovation, such as the development of new materials and technologies, can also enhance the industry’s competitiveness and create new opportunities for growth.
Coltejer’s closure represents the end of an era for the Colombian textile industry. While the company faced several challenges that contributed to its decline, its closure highlights the need for sustainable business practices, innovation, and government policies that support the industry