Exports boost ART revenue

A change in focus from a dwindling Zimbabwean market to an expending regional one saw newly listed Amalgamated Regional Trading (ART) almost treble its sales from $4.5 billion to $12.4 billion during the year ended September.

Operating profit increased from $1.1 billion to $3.2 billion with net profit increasing 244 percent from $670 million to $2.3 billion. Exports soared by 394 percent to represent 24 percent of total turnover.

The Paper Manufacturing Division saw its sales increase from $2.9 billion to $8.2 billion. Demand for tissue remained strong both locally and regionally.

Exports to the region more than doubled during the second half.

The company is now concentrating on stabilising the East African market.

The Converting and Stationery Division saw its turnover increase from $1.2 billion to $3.4 billion but volumes for its popular Softex tissue remained unchanged. The company, however, re-launched its Nurse brand which it says was well received.

The Stationary Division had a slow start though demand was quite strong in the second half. The company has acquired a new envelope-making machine.

The Battery Manufacturing and Retail Division also did exceptionally well with revenue more than trebling from $1 billion to $3.7 billion. Though margins for batteries in Zimbabwe were much higher than on the export side sales were lower because of price resistance.

The company says the South African market remains the most attractive. It says though domestic demand is likely to decline during the current financial year, there is likely to be increased demand for its products in the region.

It is looking at new markets in Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo, and developing existing markets in South Africa and East Africa.

It is however worried about changes in Zambia on the taxation of goods from Zimbabwe and the new measures on foreign currency retention announced by Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa.

Since its strategy was to have Zimbabwe as the manufacturing base, it hoped the government might be more sympathetic to the company.

Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa has already indicated that the government might review the measures.

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