Egypt's mannequin makers feel currency pinch

Egypt's mannequin makers feel currency pinch

CAIRO, May 4 (Reuters) - The man who describes himself as the pioneer of Egypt's mannequin industry believes his career is almost over, killed by high costs and cheaper Chinese imports favored by many clothing stores.

Hosni Faris launched his mannequin business in downtown Cairo in the 1950s.

However, since Egypt devalued its currency last year -- as part of measures to revive the economy -- the price of manufacturing shop dummies within the country has soared.

The lower value of the Egyptian pound against the dollar has pushed up the cost of importing the raw materials needed to make the mannequins.

As a result, mannequin makers such as Faris are suffering.

"I have stopped manufacturing mannequins because the cost is so high," Faris told Reuters.

"Raw materials are expensive and workers are very expensive," he said, adding that clothing stores were resorting to Chinese mannequins "because they are cheap."

Faris, who has resorted to repairing broken mannequins in order to keep his business afloat, is not the only one struggling to make a living from the niche industry.

"The price of local mannequins doubled once or twice (after flotation) because the polyester raw materials in which I work are imported," Mohamed al-Shabini, who opened a workshop with his brother Osama in the village of El Kharqanya near Cairo 20 years ago, told Reuters.

The 44-year-old Al-Shabini, who learned his trade after graduating from university, hopes the raw materials he needs can be manufactured in Egypt, which would reduce his costs.

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