The History of ZA.ER PLC

(Zambaiti – Eritrea PLC)

pictureThe Dolce Vita brand has many roots. It has Italian style design with Eritrean textiles. Being the brand name of ZA.ER PLC, it is based in Asmara, and is a symbol of cooperation between the Zambaiti Group and the Government of Eritrea. In 1994, on visit to recently independent Eritrea, Giancarlo Zambaiti heard of the Eritrean Government’s plan to privatize a local textile factory, founded in the 1950’s by Roberto Barattolo.  As head of the Zambaiti Group as well as president of its subsidiary, the Italian fabric company Cotonificio Honegger, Giancarlo Zambaiti approached the Eritrean Government with plans to acquire it. In 2004 he was offered the opportunity to do so.

Cotonificio Honegger and the Zambaiti Group

Founded in 1875 in Bergamo, Italy, Cotonificio Honegger became one of the principle Italian mills of the 20th century. In 1992, it became a subsidiary of the Zambaiti Group. The Zambaiti Group itself was founded in 1948 by Angelo Zambaiti in Leffe, Italy. picture

Angelo later passed the company down to his four sons, Luigi, Giancarlo, Martino, and Ferruccio Zambaiti.
In 1995 Giancarlo Zambaiti, the son of Angelo Zambaiti, became president of Cotonificio Honegger. Alongside the Zambaiti Group, Cotonificio Honegger has changed its direction from a producer of raw textiles to a producer of finished shirt fabrics. This enabled the company to expand from the luxury market and include the high and middle markets.  
In a major overseas venture, Cotonificio Honegger made a deal in 2005 with the Indian company Raymond LTD. to build a new mill in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, as well a shirt plant in Bangalore. The textile mill in Kolhapur alone produces 10.5 million metric meters of fabric annually. Currently the Zambaiti group owns 12 mills in Italy, 4 in Europe, 1 in the U.S., China, and Africa.
This helped the company to form ZA.ER PLC alongside the Government of Eritrea. According to Giancarlo Zambaiti, ZA.ER was founded for cultural and economic reasons, in order to give back to the former Italian colony.


ZA.ER PLC is based in Eritrea’s capital Asmara. The plant site is at the former Asmara Textile Factory. Known as “enda Barattolo” it was founded by Roberto Barattolo in 1956. It was first named Cotonificio Barattolo, and dominated the regional market until its nationalization by the DERG in 1975. After Eritrea won its independence, in 1994 plans were begun for the privatization of the textile mill. In 2004 an agreement was struck between Cotonificio Honegger and the Government of Eritrea to revitalize Eritrea’s textile market. With an investment of 13 million Euros, ZA.ER PLC is now looking to emulate Barattolo’s success.
pictureHeaded by General Manager Stefano Bonnazi, ZA.ER has a workforce of 550 local employees, alongside 10 expatriates. All staff have full benefits, including medical care as well as a daycare center. ZA.ER produces trousers, shirts, polo shirts, pajamas, towels, bed sheets, house linen and yarn cotton. Since its founding it has increased its output margins by 70%. The daily production rate of company is 900-1,000 shirt pieces, 200-250 pairs of trousers and pajamas, 150 bed sheets and about 3,600 kilos of cotton yarn.
The fabrics are created for several world class design and fashion companies, such as Giorgio Armani, Nara Camicie, and many other important brands. The target foreign markets are Italy, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Zambia, and other nations. Though 85% of the products are marked for export, the local markets are expanding as well. With three sales shops in Asmara, three more are located in Keren, Dekemhare and Mendefera. Several new sales shops are planned for Asmara and Massawa as well.