ART in Softex expansion

Source: ART in Softex expansion | The Herald 13 JAN, 2020

ART in Softex expansion
Softex brand

Michael Tome

AMALGAMATED Regional Trading (ART), says it will be expanding its Softex brand into a fully-fledged hygiene business as the firm continues to find ways to survive in the prevailing tough economic times.

The diversified company said it intends to inject $2 million in the manufacturing of dishwashers, toilet cleaners, diapers and production of sanitary wear.

Broadening the Softex brand is part of ART’s strategy of improving operational efficiencies.

This is aimed at growing the group’s exports necessary to boost the company, which continues to be negatively affected by deteriorating economic conditions.

This is a positive development given that Zimbabwe has been spending millions of dollars importing products that it should ordinarily manufacture locally.

ART group chief executive officer Milton Macheka, told The Herald Finance & Business that his company’s intention was to grab the opportunity presented by this line of business.

“We are looking at expanding Softex into a full hygiene business and we will be injecting $2 million in that line of business.

“You realise that the scope of full hygiene is wide, so we will be talking of dishwashers, toilet cleaners into sanitary wear and diapers, so it’s a whole range of hygiene products,” said Mr Macheka.

Zimbabwe imports about 55 percent of basic commodities and other essential goods due to low capacity utilisation in the majority of the country’s sectors, which consequently exert pressure on little foreign exchange earnings.

These developments come as ART recorded a 12 percent volume increase for the year 2019 financial year.

Volumes for that period to September 30, 2019 went down by 18 percent attributable to liquidity constraints, thereby affecting the group’s trading across the business units.

In the period under review, ART revenue increased to $267 million from $212 million realised in 2018 due to price increases effected in response to the increased cost of production.

However, ART’s solar and industrial batteries division recorded 12 per cent volume increase on the back of power outages that saw domestic and business electricity consumers sourcing alternative sources.

Export volumes for batteries and paper increased by  4 percent and  7 per cent respectively on the back of consistent product availability and increased selling effort in  Zambia and  Malawi.