Big Brands, For Less Rands: How JAM Clothing Became A Successful Retail Chain

Having to choose between paying the electricity bill or a sparkly new top is al­most crip­pling, but with JAM Clothing, you no longer have to spend time in the dark.

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JAM Clothing

JAM Clothing is a South African retailer with over 100 stores throughout the country, specialising in, “BIG BRANDS, FOR LESS RANDS” – Since open­ing its doors in 1998, it has been on a quest to bring people the lifestyle they de­serve.

The company offers international name brands in womenswear, menswear, and kidswear at drastically discounted prices.

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Michael Ditz, co-founder of JAM Clothing

After graduating from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the early 1990s, Michael Ditz went on to work as a stock Clerk at a certain retail company in Dur­ban.

One of his key responsibilities was the clearing of old stock. During that time, he met a lot of retailers who wanted to buy the old stock in large volumes, where they came back every month for more – it didn’t take long for him to join them.

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He left his job in 1992 to register his own company, MD Trading, and started wholesaling clothing to his clients that he had traded with previously. The business became a big hit and expanded.

By December of 1998, he launched the first JAM Clothing store in Dur­ban alongside his business partners, Grant Fraser and David Altshuler.
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JAM Clothing

The company sources its clothing directly from wholesalers supplying the local retail chains, as well as factories making garments for international chains. According to Ditz, in order to ensure that JAM doesn’t infringe on other retailers’ trademarks, the retailers’ labels are removed.

“Nearly everything we buy is either a chain store cancellation or overrun. Often the stock was originally destined for European or US markets – so, truth be told, our quality is often far superior to most of our competitors and at a fraction of the price. We manage to buy at discounted prices and then pass the discount onto our customers, undercutting the market nearly all the time.”

Michael Ditz

After 23 years of forming partnerships with key factories, launching new stores in every Province, bouncing back from challenges, and multiple business restructurings, JAM Clothing has over 100 stores in South Africa, and has employed around ~1200 people who’re putting food on their table.

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According to Ditz, aspiring entrepreneurs shouldn’t try to start businesses alone because its stressful, and no one is good at everything. So to avoid burnout, a co-founder is needed to split the work and confide in during the inevitable difficult periods.


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