1 March 2018

Zimbabwe: New Investor to Troubled Blue Ribbon Foods's Rescue, Injects $21m

One of the country's biggest milling companies, Blue Ribbon Foods, has received a $21 million capital injection from a regional investor.

Bakhresa group of companies which is headquartered in Tanzania gave Blue Ribbon a new lease of life by revitalizing its Msasa plant which managed to procure a new $3 million wheat milling plant from Turkey whose installation of the initial arrived consignments is underway.

The new investor has also revitalized the company's Southerton (Harare) maize plant which started production early this year.

Blue Ribbon Foods has reopened its Bulawayo plant which is supplying mostly Bulawayo Metropolitan, Matabeleland, Masvingo and some parts of Midlands provinces.

Speaking at the tour of their Msasa plant by the Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha on Tuesday, the company's managing director Mounir Bakhressa, said foreign currency shortages were derailing their efforts to expand operations.

"The new machinery that we imported from Turkey costs $3, 2 million, the remaining balance is $1, 5 million and we will need to settle this amount before final shipment of the last consignment. We also want to see this project take off as soon as possible without any hassles," he said.

"Non-payment will result in the negation by supplier to release the other consignments of the wheat mill. With this new plant our local farmers are assured of a ready market for their wheat produce," said the investor.

Bakhressa said if government did not assist them they were likely be forced to close shop.

"We, therefore, kindly request for your intervention on these issues as it is now affecting the going concern of the business. We still require maintaining the confidence of our principals both on current operations and any future businesses.

"If we do not get immediate support on the above we are likely to face a temporal production stoppage, a situation we want to avert before if happens.

We wish to take this opportunity to invite you to participate on the plant tour by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise development," he said.

Minister Bimha said his office was going to treat the Blue Ribbon issue with the urgency it deserved.

"My Ministry is intrigued by the level of commitment that has been shown by the Bakhresa Holdings in investing in this country.

"l am informed that since 2015, our friends from Tanzania have injected an outstanding amount of $21.5 million in Blue Ribbon Foods Limited.

"This has resulted in 300 people being directly employed by the company and thousands of upstream and downstream industries such as bakery, transport and agriculture sector and this commendable effort is a clear testimony that you mean business and you are here for business," he said.

Blue Ribbon Foods was under judicial management until the recent coming in of the new investor.

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