Experience, quality and innovation
Through their three core values of integrity, loyalty and hard work, Managing Director Joshua Lepar is confident that the future is bright for Arenel
Writer Emily Jarvis
Project Manager Callum Philp
Arenel are manufacturers of quality sweets and biscuits. After decades of operation, you can be sure that the company's sweet and biscuit lines are of the finest quality.
In 1946, Mr Robert (Rube) Lepar and Mr Abe Rubin had a vision which culminated in the manufacturing of sweets, in a small factory in Bulawayo. It was not long before the duo were manufacturing a range of hard boiled sweets that included the ever popular "suckers", "sugar sticks" and "apricot balls". Demand for their quality products grew and in order to increase their manufacturing capability, a purpose built facility was erected in the Belmont industrial area of Bulawayo. The partnership of Lepar and Rubin dissolved when Mr Abe Rubin relocated to Harare, where he established a successful bread making enterprise.
In the early 1960s, Arenel entered the biscuit market with the purchase of Crown Biscuits. Arenel continued on its path of growth and product development and in 1973 additional premises were acquired some 200m west of the existing facility. Therefore, a biscuit plant was purchased from overseas and installed.
Arenel now manufacture quality biscuits to compliment their ever popular growing range of sweets. Soon, space and development dictated the purchase of yet another factory for warehousing and distribution, along with a facility for the transport division and maintenance workshops. "Our high quality product range is a result of our core values: Experience! Quality! Innovation!" Joshua Lepar, Managing Director of Arenel says. Now with a strong staffing of over 300, Arenel continue to expand both their biscuit and sweet divisions.
State of the Art Expansions
In 2011, a state of the art oven with a width of 1.2m was installed at the Bulawayo factory, which added immensely to the enhanced quality and output of the biscuit division. "Consequently, with the immediate impact and success of the products produced from this oven, another brand new technology biscuit oven with a belt width of 1.5m was installed to complement the existing production capability," adds Lepar.
Additionally, Arenel have installed a new lollipop plant line, which they intend to continue to grow their sweet production capacity with over the next couple of years. "Further, we have updated our wrapping and packing divisions to further enhance our product brands," cites Lepar. In 2013, the company opened a much needed 8000m² warehousing facility, which was purchased and redesigned to take care of the new increased production output, distribution and logistical needs to ensure they remain competitive and continue their devotion to customer service excellence.
"By re-tooling our facilities, we have been able to ensure that we once again become a major player on the African continent. We see our exports to neighbouring countries – even as far as Nigeria – as one of our major successes this year," highlights Lepar. However, the company recognise that as a team, they are always working to further improve: "It is a task that we believe never ends."
Recently, Arenel purchased a property adjacent to their Bulawayo Head office comprising of 2.6 hectares where they are planning to build a new purpose built production facility as Lepar further explains: "This is to ensure that we stay abreast of new technologies as well as ensuring that we are able to meet the ever growing demand for the Arenel brand."
The current industrial climate in Zimbabwe is a difficult one. However, the understanding and assistance from the Ministry of Industry is creating processes in order to help further business opportunities within the country. "This is something we believe will be tantamount to the turnaround of the confectionary industry as a whole in Zimbabwe, and we hope to benefit from this," Lepar continues: "In terms of the sweet and biscuit industry in Africa, I believe that there is a good level of competition that ensures that we are always keeping our pencil sharp, especially when it comes to efficiencies and reducing waste. We are always looking to bolt-on products in the food space, where we can use our existing plant, machinery, logistics and facilities which will reduce our costs."
Moreover, Arenel are targeting the mass market by producing smaller value packs of sweets. "we are confident that our economy will turn around and in light of our confidence and in anticipation of an up take, we are gearing up for the upward trend in the Zimbabwe economy," emphasises Lepar.
Since its founding, Arenel has always had the policy of supporting charities and the communities at large. "We have had this long involvement through service organisation as well as through direct involvement. We support schools by way of prizes for year-end attainments as well as supplying sports equipment and sponsoring youth sport and so on. We recently sponsored the Zimbabwe Junior Tennis Tournament aptly named the Arenel Wimbledon Biscuit Junior Tennis Tournament and co-sponsored a junior rugby tournament in excess of 2000 players," comments Lepar.
Arenel has also for over 40 years employed people from the community with various impediments (mainly drawn from the renowned Jairos Jiri Organisation). "Arenel has a commitment to such persons from 100% sight impairment to persons who are in wheelchairs. They make up an important part of our all too valuable workforce team," Lepar explains.
"Integrity, Loyalty and Hard Work"
Through their three core values of integrity, loyalty and hard work, Lepar is confident that the future is bright for the company: "These elements are all about people, us as a company and all that entails; our suppliers and customers who are integral to us and our continued success; our labour as a team who make it happen and of course and very importantly our ever loyal customers. Those elements make up our secret potion for success."