Unilever South Africa will open a new factory worth over R800-million and spend R200-million on upgrading and expanding existing plants, the company announced on Thursday.
The factory - to be built adjacent to Unilever's primary distribution centre in Anderbolt in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg - will produce a number of cleaning brands such as Omo, Handy Andy, Skip, Comfort and Sunlight.
Construction on the site will "commence shortly and will incorporate Unilever's latest manufacturing technologies", the company said in a statement. The first products are expected to roll off the production lines in 2014.
"This factory forms part of a multi-year, multi-billion investment plan by Unilever South Africa to cater for our growth," said chairperson Marijn van Tiggelen.
The investment also forms part of the firm's "sustainable living" plan, which aims to build the business while cutting down on its overall environmental footprint.
'Determination to sustainability'
"This new factory is another example of Unilever's vision in action - to double the size of our business while reducing the environmental impact," said Unilever's chief supply chain officer, Pier Luigi Sigismondi.
"Not only will it enable us to grow our presence in the region, but it also highlights our determination to sustainability as it will use the latest technology and insights to create a low energy, environmentally efficient factory with zero waste to landfill."
The investment will also make a difference to the company's customers. "It will enable us to better serve South African consumers with innovation and green technology, as well as improve service levels to our retail customers," Van Tiggelen said.
"The R800-million project is one of Unilever's largest investments globally and underscores our commitment to the long-term future of South Africa and the continent as a whole."
The project is supported by the Department of Trade and Industry's 12i Tax Allowance Incentive scheme, which is designed to support greenfield investments - industrial projects that make use of only new and unused manufacturing assets.
The tax incentive scheme also covers brownfield investments - expansions or upgrades of existing industrial projects - and will support Unilever's R200-million upgrade and expansion of its existing factories.
The investment follows the opening of the Unilever Savoury dry foods factory in KwaZulu-Natal by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies in December 2011.
"We have a long history in South Africa and we have a strong commitment to its future, its growth and economic development," Sigismondi said.