Chemco defies odds

Despite a 40 percent decline in volumes, which was due to market shrinkage and not loss of market share, Chemco Holdings still managed to earn a net profit of $5.2 billion in the year ending October. This was a 648 percent increase over the previous year.

Turnover increased from $3.9 billion to $20.3 billion while operating profit shot up from $1.4 billion to $12.1 billion, an increase of 748 percent.

The company says there was a significant drop in sales of tobacco chemicals from Agricura because of the reduced crop. It did not even participate in the Tobacco Growers Trust scheme because margins were not realistic.

Agricura switched to horticultural chemicals and made strong inroads.

The home and garden market dominated the small pack retail market but there was growing consumer resistance to prices.

The advent of growing schemes had helped stabilise the market for Agricura's chemicals which should augur well for profits in 2004.

There was also significant growth in seed sales at Agpy. The seed maize range was extended to include two new open pollinated varieties.

This market remained strong because maize seed continued to be scarce both locally and regionally.

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