The South African government has set up a task team to look at ways to prevent the closure of Seardel's Frame Textile unit with the potential loss of 1,400 jobs.

Seardel, the country's largest clothing and textile maker, last month said it would close Frame Textile's unprofitable spinning, weaving, finishing and denim divisions after struggling to compete with cheap imports from China.

But yesterday (19 May) the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies and the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel held a meeting with leaders from the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), the CEO of Seardel, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), to try to find a way forward.

They are due to meet again next Monday (25 May) to discuss their plans.

The Frame Textile divisions, which are currently due to close in early July, convert raw cotton into yarn, the majority of which is then made into woven fabric for use in garments and home furnishings.

Seardel said last month it has tried to stem losses at the units by reorganising, restructuring and downsizing the operations, as well as investing ZAR360m over the past ten years on new machinery to try to raise efficiency levels.

It has also sought government help, but "to no avail."

"As there is no indication that there will be any improvement in the trading conditions or performance of the affected divisions in the foreseeable future we, regrettably, are left with no alternative but to close these divisions and sell the assets," the company said.