Norton-based tile manufacturing company Sunny Yi Feng (Pvt) Limited has been attracted by investment opportunities in Zimbabwe and has committed to promoting the country in China.
The firm yesterday showed off its factory to local councillors and political leaders from the community. Since the start of operations last year, the tile producer has spread its wings in Zimbabwe and can now make enough tiles to cover 60 000 square metres everyday.
Actual production depends on the availability of raw materials and the company has been affected by power outages, as well as Covid-19.
Around 80 percent of the produce is for export, with the firm employing more than 1 400 Zimbabweans.
Besides roofing and floor tiles, the company also manufactures bricks, cement pipes, cups, plates, wooden pallets and cardboard boxes.
Managing director Mr Cheng Guofeng gave an overview of operations and his perspective on the country in terms of investment.
“We are very happy to work in Zimbabwe and we are satisfied,” he said.
“We will market the country in China and encourage more investment here. Zimbabwean people are very educated and it helps in maximising production since they can learn new skills quickly.
“We invested US$40 million to start this project and we are doing well. The idea is to increase our production figures so that we can service a bigger foreign market, as well as employ more local people.
“The production figures depend on the raw materials. Currently they are a bit low following the four months break we had to take as a mitigatory measure for Covid-19.”
Mr Cheng said his company was manufacturing high quality porcelain tiles, as well as ceramic tiles and quality was even better than the ones produced in South Africa by sister companies.
Since entering the market, the prices of tiles in Zimbabwe have fallen, encouraging locals not to import since cheaper and better quality tiles are now locally available.
In separate interviews, Chegutu Rural District Council (RDC) acting chief executive Mr Admire Machingura and Norton town secretary Mr Kizito Muhomba commended the operations of the Chinese firm.
“There is a lot of local labour here and since their arrival it has improved in terms of our revenue collections. We look forward to being with them for a long-time to come,” said Mr Machingura.
“We are there to assist them comply with the laws of the land. They are willing to learn and they have corrected some of the areas that needed to be corrected in terms of their operations.
“It is a great investment, even though it falls under Chegutu RDC, people from Norton have benefited immensely in terms of employment and downstream industries have benefited a lot.”
The political leadership for the area also commended the investment, with Zanu PF councillor for Chegutu RDC ward 15 Cde Charles Gwanzura saying it was a good investment.
He said he was happy that the company management allowed them to know their operations by inviting them to tour – a sign of being honest.
This was corroborated by MDC-Alliance councillor for Norton Urban Ward 13 Lowsign Ngurumbu.
Zanu PF Chegutu councillor for Ward 24 Rose Matombo implored the Chinese to invest big in corporate social responsibility.