If the company will excuse me pontificating for a bit........
My business these days is all about controlling outsourced manufacture of products in low labour cost countries. It is an inescapable fact that for any product with significant labour content (be it a drysuit, boat, electronic gadget, etc etc) that it is invariably cheaper to manufacture abroad than in this country. Thats not to say it will be a superior or inferior product - thats all about quality systems, quality of raw materials etc etc. So without a doubt if labour costs in South Africa are lower than in UK which I imagine they are then a drysuit manufactured there should be cheaper.
Charles/Manos - Do you have any idea of labour costs per hour for skilled and unskilled workers in South Africa?
Ref the drysuit. The question is what is the material content? The material itself is clearly a significant part of this but also the Zip (or Zips if you have the comfort zip - highly recommended!) I understand is also a very expensive part. Clearly the zip is critical cos if this fails you're gonna get wet! Now I suspect that Ravenspring for example have a material cost that is in excess of the price of the South African manufactured drysuit at £60 or so.
The second issue is what is the material quality like? Ravenspring material is hardwearing (my original suit is going strong after 4 years - I bought a new one cos I had outgrown it
). According to them it is specially developed to be breathable, lightweight etc etc. Now we have no knowledge of the SA produced drysuit so cannot compare material or zip quality.
Having visited Ravenspring on a couple of occasions, their production is very manual with a small group of people constructing the suits. Whilst I am sure that labour costs in sunny Totness are not excessive for this country, I am sure that they are significantly higher than in S Africa.
You'll be pleased dear reader that I am now coming to my point! I don't believe that Ravenspring are making an obscene amount of profit on their product. Certainly it is costing them more than the price of the SA produced suit to produce. I don't believe they are giving them away either - they have established the price the market will bear that gives them a return they are happy with. If the market changes - say through availability of drysuits of a similar quality produced elsewhere, then they will have the choice of trying to reduce their costs in Totness or consider moving production to a lower cost country. As a happy customer of Ravenspring this would be a sad turn of events as at present I am able to send my drysuit back to them for repairs, alterations and servicing at minimal cost. I couldn't do that with the SA produced one! Mind you if they are any good I could buy several for the price of my Ravenspring which would cover that issue!
At the end of the day you pays your money and takes your choice as a consumer. Ravenspring drysuits are great product but they are expensive. If you don't want to pay the money then Manos may have discovered a viable alternative. I look forward to seeing it at Plymouth. If its a good thing then I think I might go into business importing them myself!!