Uniquely Satisfying Refreshment
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
Invesco Zambia was created in 1991 with the vision to manufacture and market ready-to-drink products in both disposable and recyclable packaging, pioneering PET’s use in the region.
Its innovative spirit caught the eye of Indian Company, Parle, securing them the franchise to begin bottling under the umbrella of the Gold Spot brand. Since that point the Company has experienced many great successes in working with big-name brands - including Coca-Cola - becoming the first company to manufacturer their core brands in PET packaging in the country.
Ajesh Patel, Managing Director of Invesco Zambia begins: “Over the years we have been able to expand our portfolio and manufacture our own brands of carbonated and non-carbonated thirst-quenching beverages.”
Such spirit clearly runs throughout the Patel family, who were also pioneers in the biscuits and confectionary industry in Zambia since 1966; moving into the beverage sector later via an extension of a separate co-operative structure.
“We have always strived to meet the demands of our ever-growing needs of the African population, by providing our consumers with simple moments of uniquely satisfying refreshment,” continues Patel. “We also pride ourselves on the high standards we have attained within the industry, gaining ISO 9001, 14001, 18001 and FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification) accreditation over the years.”
Extending the range
In order to successfully retain its high standing in the industry, Invesco recently gave its own brand of water, Crystal, a new lease of life by changing the shape of the bottle to provide a product that is a little more sleek and stylish.
“We have been focusing our energies in recent years on extending the range of water that we offer, moving from just offering still water, to also add sparkling water as well,” explains Patel. “The Company will also be launching energy water in the coming months, which we hope will enable us to tap into Zambia’s ever-growing health-conscious youth of today.
“Plans for the launch of a 500ml Mazoe product with a lower price point are in action, with hopes of capturing a more informal market, while we are also developing a ready-to-drink offering which is targeted at parents who are ever-conscious of supplying nutritional and health benefits for their family.”
This focus on health is a huge trend which needs to be closely monitored in order to match companies globally, particularly when it comes to mindfulness over sugar intake gaining momentum worldwide and in Zambia. In response to the recent uptake of this trend, Invesco will launch its range of non-carbonated energy water, flavoured with natural fruit ingredients and less sugar than other carbonated energy water products.
“We have also noticed an upward trend in the alco-pop segment, which we are planning on tapping into,” Patel confirms. “Many alco-pops are imported from South Africa, so it is our main aim to become the first local manufacturer. In order to negate environmental issues such as pollution from plastic waste, we are looking into bottle-to-bottle recycling and biodegradable polymers to create our PET bottles.”
The Company has always believed in continuous development, spanning from its products to the people creating them. Ultimately, development and growth at Invesco is, and will always be, the key to its success.
“Collectively our quality control team and production teams are constantly being trained on the new trends we are witnessing within the field, ensuring that we are ahead of the game,” continues Patel. “In March, 2017 our Production Manager was selected to take part in a large-scale training programme in Johannesburg, signifying the respect that our training and Company as a whole is attracting.”
It is also proving to be increasingly important in the Company to employ locally, now retaining a workforce that is at least 90 percent Zambian.
“We firmly believe that there are many qualified people in Zambia and they rightfully should be given the chance to excel in their field,” Patel affirms. “Therefore, Invesco actively encourages internships within the Company. Presently we are working with two young ladies that are taking part in an internship programme within our quality department.
“We have also been working closely with Copperbelt University’s Business School and the Northern Technical College in the Copperbelt Province, Zambia, providing them with industry sensitive skills and training to provide for the next generation moving into the industry.”
Giving back to the community that it operates in takes a huge precedent in the Company, placing particular emphasis on sports events, including the annual Invesco Open Golf Tournament.
Patel adds: “We are also a major sponsor of the River Lure Fishing competition, a catch and release competition which helps keep in check the health of the Kafue River located on the Copperbelt.”
It has also become increasingly prominent for the Company to make donations to the Ndola Hindu Samaj - part of the Hindu Association of Zambia - during different religious festivities, as well as working closely with charitable organisations.
“One of our biggest achievements is the inception of The Absolute Gentlemen, a charitable organisation founded by a handful of likeminded businessmen who have joined forces to achieve a common goal,” explains Patel. “I am one of the founding members and every year we host a charity gala where the proceeds raised will be donated to different charities with different needs.”
As a Company that is extremely conscious of its local community, its manufacturing process is highly controlled and therefore it operates under stringent conditions in attempts to reduce its carbon footprint, believing strongly in recycling and encouraging clients to follow suit. In terms of developing the Company as it moves forward, it is also particularly keen on youth development within the organisation.
“We are constantly pushing for a younger management team that will be able to drive us forward and ensure our products’ appeal to the growing millennial population within Zambia,” concludes Patel. “My daughter Shivani has already joined the team and is in charge of our marketing activities, which is very exciting to witness.”
Not only is the Company setting the precedent in terms of employing younger management, but it also sees the importance that should be placed on gender sensitivity and having women in managerial roles at Invesco; again showcasing its forward thinking nature and ability to adapt with the times, constantly adding value to the workforce.