Kenya’s Prince of Paints
Crown Paints PLC has been producing quality paint products for more than 60 years, establishing itself as the go-to supplier for the full spectrum of consumer and commercial customers
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Callam Waller
The demand for paints and coatings around the world is showing no signs of slowing down.
According to research firm Statista, 2017 saw the industry generate more than $160 billion in sales, this figure set to rise to almost $210 billion in 2022 and over $232 billion by 2027.
And it is easy to see why, given the wide range of use cases. From automotive paints and architectural coatings to solutions for industrial premises and the individual DIY enthusiast, the need for quality, durable and sustainable products in this chemicals subcategory is more important than ever.
In Kenya, national mainstay Crown Paints PLC is growing alongside the global industry curve.
According to its latest annual report, the year 2018 saw revenues increase by 13 percent to 8.3 billion Kenyan shillings (approximately $80 million).
Citing promising GDP growth in his Chairman’s Statement, Mhamud Charania explained how last year provided an optimistic backdrop from which the company was able to grow its activities.
“The business environment improved as political stability and business confidence returned, thus leading to a better output from the real estate and manufacturing sectors,” he wrote. “The exchange rate during 2018 showed better stability than in 2017 which was of benefit to our company, taking into consideration that up to 65 percent of our raw materials are imported.”
Six decades of servitude
Although the Chairman admits 2018 was a mixed year, with its subsidiaries in Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda facing challenging market conditions, the company still stands as Kenya’s number one paint manufacturer.
Established more than six decades ago, in 1958, Crown Paints has evolved into an organisation which produces around two million litres of paint every month and employs more than 1,000 members of dedicated staff across its home country and regional operations.
It is a provider of tailor made solutions to the construction and retail segments of the industry, offering innovative products alongside first-class aftersales support.
This is supplemented by partnerships with international brands which enable Crown to provide the most far-reaching paint range in the region, the company home to the largest dealer network in Kenya in both urban, semi-urban and rural areas.
Indeed, for CEO Rakesh Rao, a hallmark of recent company developments has been its ability to bring more products to a wider client base.
In his statement in the Crown Paints 2018 annual report, he said: “As part of our marketing strategy, we have enhanced our product availability to our customers in the country to achieve maximum impact, through enhancing our distribution by pushing the product to smaller traders.
“The opening of showrooms in various towns, for example, where our customers visit and see the various products we offer and various ways to decorate. Through our Team Kubwa initiative, we have been able to bring together painters where we offer them enhanced training on the use of our products.
“In ensuring that we continue to remain relevant in the market, our product management team’s main aim is to launch and establish new products to the ever-changing markets.”
Built on expertise
The Team Kubwa initiative mentioned by Rao is emblematic of the huge amount of expertise and industry knowledge contained within Crown Paints.
The company’s knowhow allows it to provide customers with valuable insights on project planning, interior design, colour scheming and product selection, this side-by-side process lasting all the way through to aftersales support services, making it a first choice for homeowners, painters, architects and professionals.
Technology is another point of difference, Crown’s human expertise backed up by the likes of computerised tinting machines, equipment which is able to dispense a range of more than 6,000 shades within a matter of minutes, providing unrivalled choice and convenience.
The firm claims to possess the largest number of such machines in the market, while its product range has been bolstered by a selection of fashion and textured paint finishes, targeted at customers “who want their homes, offices or commercial developments to be an extension of their personality as well as to reflect global design trends and colour palettes”.
Such a range includes the Italia Series and Ruff N’ Tuff products, the latter being for exterior textured finishes on buildings.
Crown Paints’ expertise also extends into the automotive sphere of the market through its Duco brand and supplier agreements with world-leading providers such as Nexa Autocolour and Duxone. Other supply agreements include Hempel, the oil, gas and marine coatings specialist, and adhesive and construction chemicals company Pidilite.
Completing the product portfolio are Teflon and silicone ranges, and an extensive selection of wood paints and varnishes.
A responsible future
As well as developing a full suite of paint solutions for its vast array of clients and customers, Crown Paints is also a community custodian, shown by corporate social responsibility programmes such as #DreamItCrownIt.
“The campaign, purposed to position Crown Paints not only as a coronation of personal growth and development but as a colorful freer of our imagination, was achieved in three key phrases for public awareness, participation and engagement,” it states on its website.
It made use of an online game to allocate support to charitable projects, including the repainting of hospitals, funding student education and revamping police stations.
“After 60 years of doing business in the region, Crown recognises the need to continue creating linkages within the communities in which we operate in and beyond,” Rao commented in his CEO Statement. “The communities must prosper for us to continue doing business with them.”
This legacy of community enhancement is an important one, a reputation which will only serve to help Crown entrench itself further into Kenyan society as it grows in the coming years.
From a business perspective, Crown Paints’ future is best summarised by Charania, who wrote in his Chairman’s Statement: “We as a board will continue to remain focused on the principles and values that have held high our Crown brand and will continue to invest in our people and resources to enable us to approach the year 2019 with greater hope.
“We also look forward to the government investing heavily in its infrastructure projects and easing of political uncertainties to propel greater growth.
“Our company is banking on the long-term business as we position our brand in the market to meet our customers changing needs. Our strategy for the region was well carried out by our dedicated team of management and staff with the support of our business partners.”
Echoing these sentiments, Rao concluded in his statement: “Finally, but most importantly, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to my fellow directors, shareholders, employees, customers and partners for their continued and inspiring support towards creating more value for all stakeholders to enhance economic growth of the company and the region.
“We will continue to count on your valued support.”