via Meikles ventures into mining – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 18, 2014 in Victoria Mtomba
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed Meikles Limited has said progress has been made in its mining venture projects as it is finalising its gold project and waiting for regulatory approvals to get into chrome mining.
In a report given to the management, the company said the group had progressed in its involvement in the mining sector since it entered an agreement last year with Centar Mining that wanted to invest $500 million into the listed firm.
“The first gold project has been identified and implementation is being finalised. A chrome opportunity has been concluded and is awaiting regulatory approvals. The group is working very closely with our partner, Centar, and has a vision to become a significant player in the mining sector,” the report has shown.
The report stated that aggregate demand for the nine-month period ending December 2013 continued to fall as the liquidity situation remained constrained.
Meikles said the company was still engaging with the Reserve Bank and the Ministry of Finance to recover $89 million that has been held by the central bank on deposits.
“There are individuals who recognise the need to facilitate a solution to this issue to enable the group to access these funds which are due.
“The group is appreciative of these proactive efforts. However, there are also individuals who are frustrating a resolution to this issue. Their motivation is uncertain, but their intransigence is placing the group and its stakeholders at risk,” the group said in the report.
Giving a trading update on its retail operations in the nine months under review, the group said trading in its supermarkets was subdued during the period although turnover in fruit and vegetables, takeaways, butcheries and liquor had shown useful growth.
“The turnover in TM Supermarkets (TM) was 1% above that of the comparative period in 2012. Sales and operating margins though comparable to historical levels are under pressure due to lack of spending power by consumers, but have benefited from the growth in the service areas. In spite of the challenges being faced by the economy, TM is continuing with its branch refurbishment programme and the opening of new stores,” the report has shown.
While the group’s departmental store’s turnover was 32% below last year over the same period due to challenges in the economy, overall operating costs had been reduced by 18% and the remaining branches should be profitable once the human resource overhead was rationalised.
According to the report, the group is optimistic about its agro operations and targets to have 300 hectares, 500 hectares and 750 hectares under coffee, avocados and macadamia respectively by March 2015. The company hopes to produce more tea compared to 7 500 tonnes that was produced last year.
“The tea prices are now stable and comparable to the averages achieved in the year ended March 31 2013, although short-term volatilities were encountered in the second quarter of our financial year due to a significant increase in tea production by East African producers,” the report has shown.