Moving Forward in the Local and Regional Economies
Arenel has achieved local and regional growth throughout its decades of continuous operational improvement in the manufacture of quality sweets and biscuits for Zimbabweans and its key export markets. Last year, the Company launched a new range of mini biscuits - known as ‘Yummies’ - in five exciting flavours, and a new flavour of Chocolate Zambezi Pops which serves to strengthen Arenel’s growth strategy and cement its position in the country’s confectionery industry. “The new product lines are designed to meet changing market demands and are in response to the ever-changing taste of the people. So far business has been positive and we are moving forward with that movement of positivity,” says Joshua Lepar, Managing Director of Arenel.
With a footprint in virtually every corner of the country, Arenel boasts one of Zimbabwe’s most extensive distribution networks in the country.
In line with this, the Company has been committed to increasing its service offering with the eventual aim to provide a more inclusive end-to-end service. 2015 is an exciting time for the Company as feasibility studies have been undertaken for the manufacture of a further three products and Lepar is eager to push for their production and inclusion in the Arenel product range. “This year, we will be launching our take on the traditional energy drink called Mahewu, made from maize. To achieve this objective, we have a special purpose-built factory in place for new state-of-the-art equipment, including new processing and bottling machinery which is being installed as we speak,” explains Lepar.
Currently, Arenel has a staff complement of 300 and given the aforementioned new Mahewu manufacturing facility, this number is anticipated to increase by a further 100 employees to increase those on the factory floor right through to distribution and point of sale.
Within this, the Company maintains its long-standing policy to employ a number of physically disadvantaged persons and integrate them into the workforce.
Within its manufacturing rationalisation objectives, Arenel has consolidated its raw material warehousing into a recently acquired premises in close proximity to its manufacturing units in Bulawayo. “Moving our raw materials under one roof close-by will enable us to have better control of our stock levels, minimum order levels and allow for more efficient accounting of usage in order to effectively replenish, while at the same time releasing space which was previously used for raw material storage to additional production machinery,” he adds.
The additional installed production capacity and new product introductions now allow the Company to focus on strengthening its customer base over a wider geographic footprint to include new targeted territories of Ghana, Uganda, Mozambique and Namibia.
As strong advocates of the ‘Buy Zimbabwe’ campaign, Arenel purchases locally produced goods and services where possible and given the projected expansion, Lepar continues to personally believe in the ethos that local is best: “As a truly proud Zimbabwean company, we make sure that we purchase and procure all our raw materials from local sources where possible; while mindful of achieving the right price and quality that meets our stringent quality control procedures.” If unable to procure in-country, Arenel looks to the immediate regional partners in SADC and COMESA for its materials.
After a decade of economic malaise in the country, ‘Buy Zimbabwe’ is an important initiative that will actively promote the consumption and procurement of locally produced goods and services by the government, local authorities, and the public and private sectors.
“The Zimbabwe economy finds itself in a very illiquid position at this time and as a country, we have largely seen disposable income diminish further as we find ourselves competing for that elusive dollar. However, through our country-wide distribution network supported by a dynamic and knowledgeable home-grown team, state-of-the-art machinery and sizable fleet of interlink vehicles; we are able to ensure that we get to the market at the correct price point giving us a competitive edge and enhancing our brand promise to deliver a quality products at a great price,” states Lepar.
In order to further develop the Company brand and build on its localisation strategies, Arenel has been active in the social sphere, recently sponsoring the Nash U17 soccer tournament for Zimbabwean schools country-wide. “The soccer sponsorship is in excess of US$150,000, and we still maintain our sponsorship of the national ‘Wimbledon’ tennis tournament for school children under the age of 18; Wimbledon being the brand name of our fantastic coconut base biscuit.
“Activities such as this demonstrate our focus to give back to the community through sponsoring and developing junior sport in Zimbabwe,” Lepar emphasises.
As a household name synonymous with quality and value for money products, Lepar intends to grow the Arenel brand to further increase its product range and its reach not only in Zimbabwe, but the surrounding countries. “To achieve this, our main focus will be on the new Mahewu factory for local consumption and we will be working on a comprehensive strategy to successfully expand geographically with our existing range of products coupled with the new projected products that are to be introduced. We are currently benefiting from our localisation strategy and supporting the community where we can through our youth-driven programmes.