Innscor splashes US$109m on expansion projects

Innscor group chief executive officer Julian Schonken.

INNSCOR Africa Limited has spent about US$109 million in expansion projects in the country, including building new stockfeed mills and a state-of-the-art bakery in Bulawayo.

Innscor group chief executive officer Julian Schonken told journalists on Wednesday in Harare during the company’s employee share trust dividend handover ceremony that the business was increasing its presence throughout the value chain.

“In terms of our expansion footprint, you will have seen from our annual report that in the past three years we've invested more than US$136 million in various projects,” Schonken said.

“We are building new stockfeed mills.

“We have built a state-of-the-art bakery in Bulawayo to service the southern region and the country at large.

“That bakery is a state-of-the-art facility, which will be opened in the next couple of months.

“So, we have also invested in other new projects, you know, we have a dairy business now and we've invested in a new dairy farm in the Midlands area and we are increasing our capacity throughout the value chain.

“I think I have mentioned the US$136 million of which probably at least US$109 million has already been expanded.”

In terms of regional focus, Schonken said at the moment they did not have any concrete plans but added:  “it is something that we are always looking at”.

He said the issue of currency volatility was negatively affecting their operations but the fact that they were diversified, lessened the impact.

“Well, it obviously makes the process of running a business difficult because there's multiple exchange rates and pricing,” Schonken said.

“Finding the correct price point becomes difficult, but largely we are surviving because of the diversity of our operations.”

To address the issue, he said they were engaging with the government on a regular basis, both through organisations like Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.

“I think government policy is responsive to the concerns that business is raising,”  Schonken said.

The Innscor chief said, in addition to their normal employment contract benefits, the employee share trust allowed employees to be aligned with shareholders and management to foster teamwork.

“The first one is the ethos of the Innscor Group,” he added.

“We are a giving organization, so we cannot operate on the basis that only some people benefit from the operation of the company and the results that it produces.

“So, as part of employee participation, that was the company's initiative.

“Secondly, the government also historically introduced the indigenisation program where it encouraged corporates to empower communities and employees.

“So, the employee share trust was formalised as part of that indigenisation programme and if you look at Innscor, we are one of the few companies that have an active and operating employee share ownership trust.”

Innscor is a manufacturer of consumer staple and durable goods for the mass market through a managed and where strategically appropriate, integrated portfolio of businesses.

The group commands leading market shares across a range of its categories and over the years has grown organically, through acquisition and by venturing into new categories.

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