Positive thinking produces positive results
Lusitania Food Products continues to increase and diversify its range of products to complement its equally flexible supply chain management strategy
Writer Matthew Staff
Project Manager Ben Wigger
Lusitania Food Products is taking its ‘can-do’ attitude to a wider footprint than ever before as it continues to expand a business which has grown year-on-year in the southern African region since 1997.
Bought by East London-based entrepreneur, Tony Cotterell more than 25 years ago, Lusitania Food Products started as a seafood wholesaler and has subsequently expanded its vast portfolio of products to become one of largest national frozen and chilled distributors in South Africa; comprising more than 1,000 lines of branded frozen meat and chicken products, vegetables and dairy goods under its remit.
Adding desserts, pastries and cakes to the ever-growing list of offerings to the hospitality sector, Lusitania is now fully equipped to maintain its regional rise, and revenue growth targets, as Branch Manager, Lorette Kotze explains: “With a portfolio of over 1,000 products from a range of suppliers we are able to deliver quality products at competitive prices five days a week in the major cities and weekly in the outer lying areas.
“Our growth in the last two years has been above market expectation, and with branches in Johannesburg, Durban & Cape Town, we have a wellestablished footprint in the sector.”
A ‘can-do’ Approach
Growth has traditionally been achieved within Lusitania via a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions of new customers and distributorships, building upon its extensive range of products and services as it does so.
Maintaining such a proactive philosophy requires not only stringent planning and market expertise, but also a positive, can-do approach, which the business prides itself on.
“The major contributing factor to the success of the business over the past 24 months has been the people,” Kotze says. “With some restructuring in several departments and strategic appointments we have a great balance of experience and expertise.
“The daily challenges that the hospitality sector send us are met with our ‘can do’ approach and positive attitude.”
This ethos is where the company believes it sets itself apart from competitors, instilling the same drive in each of the 180 personnel, and similarly transferring that same determination across all branches, as well as customers and partners, to keep as streamlined an offering as possible.
“The Johannesburg branch has undergone some realignment over the past 18 months with regards to the facilities, sales representatives and telesellers/ traders,” Kotze notes. “Each area has a dedicated business unit managing an area. This has improved communication and we have become more consistent.
“Our understanding of our customer and their requirements has also improved. This was seen at our Gauteng Open Day where over 300 visitors attended the one-day show jointly hosted by our suppliers.”
The company’s sales team is also encouraged to buy into the integrated philosophy, receiving regular supplier product reviews and visits to the suppliers to discuss, prepare and taste existing and new products; thus promoting a hands-on feel throughout the entire value chain.
The management team believes that Lusitania’s greatest asset is its people who are committed to service excellence, and are offered an ongoing training programme to enhance product knowledge, technical skills and customer support.
“Lusitania knows that a close, unified company, with a determination to fulfil mutual goals, means a successful and happy organisation. Life-long career opportunities encourage dedication to the company, also benefiting a loyal customer base,” the company states.
Having the drive and workforce to succeed is one thing, but the Lusitania package is completed through an equally well-formed strategy in terms of processes and operations, beginning right at the very top.
The company has strategic alliances in Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland to bring its services closer to the customer, while it is also able to utilise resources within the group, including logistics and an in-house outsourcing business to manage overheads, ensuring the most efficient service to clients.
Kotze continues: “While competition is good, all distributors have large areas to service. Making sure that we are consistent with our offer, ensuring stock availability and on-time delivery has paid dividends in growing certain areas where the competition has not been focused. The Mpumalanga region is a good example of this, where we have seen business grow five-fold.”
As well as Mpumalanga, the company also has sales representatives in Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West, Free State, ensuring it is able to engage first-hand with customers to create a customised, mutually beneficial service.
International Company, Operating Locally
As a proudly South African company operating nationally, the company also tries to aid efficiencies, where possible, through the procurement of locally sourced products, distributed via its national fleet of 34 vehicles fitted with freezer units.
Ensuring the freshness and safety of the products is of paramount importance, making the local focus even more prevalent and the extent of imported products kept to a minimum where possible.
The company adds: “Lusitania is set to strengthen its position in a highly competitive market through a carefully structured consolidation programme, supported by the launch of new food products, to meet exact market demand.
“Lusitania works hard at relationships and has secured the distribution agreements for some of the most respected brands in the frozen and chilled food sector.”
These include the likes of McCain, Heinz, Unilever and DairyBelle, epitomising the position that Lusitania currently holds within the industry.
The extension of existing supply routes and the addition of vehicles to routes where capacity and frequency are a challenge has increased the gap between the company and its market rivals further, not only ensuring that it provides a superior service, but also a geographical advantage.
“Some improvements with regards to IT infrastructure are also being initiated with the end result aimed at growing the overall basket with all clients.”
Moving into a larger Johannesburg facility is also a medium-term strategy for Lusitania as it nears capacity, consequently enhancing even further the range and flexibility it is able to offer its customers moving forward, while also keeping in mind the seafood origins from which this business grew from as part of its sustainability strategy.
The company concludes: “Lusitania is setting a new trend in South Africa by influencing the choices people make through reliability, consistency and excellent customer service.”
“Transformation in the seafood market to a sustainable basis will safeguard the oceans for future generations.”