Driven by the continuous economic improvement in Africa, steady population growth and the subsequent emergence of new customers across a diverse range of industry sectors; technology and innovation major, 3M is currently reaping the benefits of restructuring its African business.
REGIONAL RESTRUCTURE GENERATES GROWTH
Having been present in South Africa for more than 40 years and 10 years in the North Africa region – with operations in Kenya and Nigeria following in 2012 – 3M has secured a strong foothold in the healthcare, safety, communication and automotive industries, while mining, oil & gas, consumer, healthcare and energy hold the potential to cement the Company’s future growth. 3M has more than 65,000 products being sold worldwide, serving customers through five business groups and is best-known for manufacturing some of the world’s most familiar brands, including Post-it®, Scotch®, Scotch-Brite®, Filtrete™, O-Cel-O™, Nexcare™, and Command™.
A result of strong profits over the past decade in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, the restructuring strategy initiated in 2013 was designed to improve geographic coverage on the African continent and to accelerate future growth. 3M’s operations were divided into two regions – 3M South Africa and 3M Africa – in a bid to leverage and align market commonalities. The latter comprises North, East, Central and West Africa – including Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Francophone countries, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, DRC, Zambia, Angola, Nigeria and Ghana – while the former consists of South Africa and its common border countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Spearheaded by Walid Feghali, Managing Director of 3M Africa, and Ismail Mapara with as many as 400 individuals employed by the Company across the continent today – known affectionately as 3Mers – 3M strives to live up to its reputation as an “innovation Company that never stops inventing”.
“Six of the world’s fastest growing countries are in Africa and the continent has been a key priority for us. The restructuring of our organisation in Africa will help us further expand our presence, explore new opportunities and build local capacities to increase penetration. This development is a testament to 3M’s commitment in supporting our wide network of customers across the Middle East and African markets,” commented Feghali.
3M’s recent announcement of Group profits for the full-year, 2015 reiterated the success and future potential for the Company’s expansion strategy on a global scale, highlighting the significant amount of planning undertaken to remain innovation leaders in an increasingly saturated marketplace.
“The fourth quarter capped-off a year of disciplined execution from our global team with a solid margin and cash flow performance,” said Inge G. Thulin, 3M’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer alongside the release of the Group profits. “Throughout 2015 we controlled the controllable, while investing in the business and also returning significant cash to shareholders.
“It was an important year as we prepared and positioned our Company for long-term success. We strengthened and focused our portfolio, made significant investments in the business to support growth, and made good progress in moving toward a more efficient business model through business transformation and our corporate restructuring. We are building an even stronger and more competitive Company for 2016 and beyond.”
He continued: “As we celebrate our accomplishments, we recognise the magnitude of the global challenges we are all looking to address. This will not be easy, and it will require shifts in how we operate, how we make long-term decisions and how we collaborate. But we firmly believe that, by working with our customers and partners, and by empowering people to exercise their own creativity and passion, we can drive the transformational changes necessary for the success of both business and society.”
LEADING FROM THE FRONT
Guided by a vision “to add value, and to lead with technology and innovation solutions that advance peer companies, enhance homes and improve the lives of customers, communities and country”, 3M’s African operations benefit from Group-wide support channels and leading international manufacturing techniques and equipment to answer the endless array of customer needs.
The Company’s committed team of 3Mers work closely together to help create a more sustainable manufacturing future and quality products for customers, as well as supporting the community via regular corporate social responsibility initiatives. Led by the Group’s culture of creative collaboration, 3M “captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious solutions” in tandem with “helping everyone, everywhere, live a better life”.
“We intend to do this by designing products that support our customers’ sustainability efforts, embedding sustainable practices across our supply chain, and, perhaps most importantly, joining together with a shared purpose,” the Chairman detailed.
It is this willingness to engage and remain flexible in new markets that distinguishes 3M from the competition; particularly in African markets which have a set of specific challenges and industry trends.
Passing final comment on 3M MEA’s expansion plans across Africa, Irfan Malik, Area Vice President 3M Middle East & Africa said: “3M’s expansion across new geographies in Africa is driven by our underlying strategy to enhance our penetration in emerging markets by increasing customer relevance with the aid of our proven global technology platforms and prioritising focus on key industries that are expected to grow multi-fold in the coming years.”
He concluded: “The MEA region is one of the fastest growing geographies for 3M globally and we are committed to not only infuse fresh investments across key countries, but also introduce tailor-made innovations relevant for the specific needs of the industries operating in the region.”