31 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Lobels Acquires U.S.$2,5m Bread-Making Equipment

LOBEL'S, the country's oldest bread-making entity, has acquired a US$2,5 million state-of-the-art bread-making equipment to boost output and reclaim lost market share.

Chief executive officer, Ngoni Mazango said the bread-making equipment had the capacity to double production.

Currently, the company's Harare plant is producing between 100 000 and 120 000 loaves a day, while the Bulawayo factory is producing 60 000 units per day.

The new plant, sourced from Europe, is expected in the country early next month.

"We are excited about having invested in new production plant. The cost of the machinery is approximately US$2,5 million and the investment is expected to boost production at our Harare and Bulawayo factories," said Mazango.

"Everything being equal, we hope to commission the new plant at the end of February at the Bulawayo factory and for Harare we expect the machinery to start running in March," said Mazango in an interview with The Financial Gazette's Companies & Markets this week.

He added: "With this newly acquired production facility, we will double our production capacity to 120 000 loaves of bread per day at our Bulawayo factory while our Harare factory will be able to produce between 200 000 and 240 000 loaves per day. With this, we are confident we will be able to regain our market share that we lost over the last year. Moreover, we will create about 330 more jobs from the current 870 employees to 1200 for both the Harare and Bulawayo factories".

Lobel's Holdings was established in 1957 by the Lobel family in Bulawayo, then the country's industrial hub.

The company was then sold to a consortium of indigenous Zimbabweans in 2002 before expanding its operations to Bulawayo with the opening of a 60 000 capacity bread plant in 2004.

At its peak, Lobel's Harare had a daily output of 400 000 loaves and commanded a 40 percent market share.

Five local banks - FBC Bank, CBZ Bank, NMB Bank, Metbank and Capital Bank - who were owed a total of US$14 million by the bread-maker, took over the company to settle their debts and save the firm from collapse.

The consortium of bankers, through their investment arm Altiwave, invested US$4,5 million in plant refurbishment and new plant acquisition.

The company currently has a staff compliment of 870 .

"We anticipate that this will grow to 1 170 after the installation of the new plant on a gender mix of 35 percent female and 65 percent male," said Mazango.

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