Enterprise Africa November 2022

Page 60

Masslift / Respublica / R&D Contracting / Bata SA www.enterprise-africa.netNovember 2022 Exclusive interview with SBS Group CEO, Delayne Gray Quarter Century of South African Success for SBS ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

Now is not the time to sit by idly. Now is the time to question. The time to challenge. Now is the time to act. To believe in something bigger than ourselves. Now is the time to help small business. Big business. And nurture new business. Now is the time to put our money where it matters.

By investing R2,25bn of our own capital. To jumpstart the economy. To keep business doors open. And keep food on the table. Now is the time to plan.

We know the importance of keeping as many businesses going as possible. That’s why we’re actively supporting businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 by creating the Sanlam Investors’ Legacy Range three impact funds with the core objective of helping to preserve current jobs and creating new ones. To find out more about the Sanlam Investors’ Legacy Range, visit www.sanlamintelligence.co.za/institutional/.


Sanlam Investment Management is an Authorised Financial Services Provider.

EDITOR Joe Forshaw








PROJECT MANAGER Eleanor Sarbutt-King




LEAD DESIGNER Aaron Protheroe



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Company’s that invest locally reap the rewards. Increasing spend in the local supply chain, developing regional skills and industries, and moving money through communities brings reductions in unemployment, skilled labour, opportunities for advancement, and an economy which is better off in the long-term. Too often in southern Africa is importing the answer. A robust, local manufacturing sector is essential for long-term economic security, and government knows this.

That is why the introduction of schemes like Proudly SA – an association of companies agreeing to spend at least 50% of their supply chain budget locally – are so beneficial to the country.

SBS Group, a leading manufacturer of water and agricultural tanks, has bought into the idea. CEO Delayne Gray is a proud South African and wants to see nothing more than his country thrive. His company builds local products and communities and exports around the world. The benefit at home in KZN is profound.

Harvey Roofing Products is manufacturing a new tile for African conditions, but it is so strong and durable that there is interest globally in the product, made with local input in Gauteng.

Jotun Paints SA, the local arm of the major international company, is manufacturing paints at its Cape Town facility for applications in the energy and marine space all over southern Africa.

Biotherapeutics, a quality-focused manufacturer of health supplements, works out of Pretoria, investing heavily in a local value chain. All of these companies are thriving and have avoided major impact from the pandemic and macroeconomic issues present currently. Perhaps it all comes back to localisation and a regional development mindset. Get in touch and let us know how your business is investing locally and what impact it is having on the bottom line. We’re online, at LinkedIn.


LETTER www.enterprise-africa.net / 3
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joe@enterprise-africa.net www.enterprise-africa.net
Manelesi Dumasi CONTRIBUTOR Timothy Reeder CONTRIBUTOR Benjamin Southwold CONTRIBUTOR William Denstone //
4 / www.enterprise-africa.net 16// 6// 16// 22// 28// 36// 42// 48// 56// 62// THE SBS GROUP Quarter Century of South African Success for SBS MASSLIFT AFRICA Three Decades of Strong Growth for Africa’s Forklift Specialist BATA SOUTH AFRICA Strategy Step-Up Strengthens Bata Ambitions HARVEY ROOFING PRODUCTS HRP EcoTile® to Totally Disrupt Roofing Market JOTUN PAINTS SA Jotun Goes Lean in Growth Push BIOTHERAPEUTICS Excitement Builds Around New Application Launch RESPUBLICA Respublica to Grow in Fertile African Student Accommodation Market PREMIER HOTELS & RESORTS Comfortably the Best: Premier Secures Improvement, Expansion and Growth ELPHICK PROOME ARCHITECTURE Architectural Visionary’s Ambition Knows No Bounds
CONTENTS www.enterprise-africa.net / 5 56// 68// 76// 82// 90// 96// 102// 107// 114// R&D CONTRACTING Building Valuable Skills for SA Industrial Maintenance Sector CONCORD RETAIL SOLUTIONS Concord Embraces Complete Retail Solution SAPPO Positive Influence for Sustainable SA Industry DENNY MUSHROOMS Adding Sustainable Goodness to Every Meal SHELL SOUTH AFRICA Building for the Next 120 Years of Ambition, Collaboration and Advancement AVIS SOUTH AFRICA Astute Affiliations Help Agile Avis Lead the Way TALBOT Making Water Solutions an Art Form 1-GRID Specialist in All Things Hosting in South Africa


Quarter Century of South African Success for SBS

By placing people and community at the heart of the business, The SBS Group has grown from small importer of engineered water tanks, becoming a manufacturer of specialist industrial solutions for a global client base. CEO Delayne Gray is unwavering in his desire to promote South Africa as a manufacturing destination of choice and is setting the perfect example.

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PRODUCTION: Jamie Waters


When I stand in front of a SBS Tanks customer, I am able to say: ‘Everything that will go up on this site is South African by origin’,” says Delayne Gray, Group CEO at The SBS Group.

Perhaps one of South Africa’s proudest advocates, Gray heads one of the country’s leading manufacturing businesses. The SBS Group - home to SBS Tanks, SBS Agri, and SBS Energy – is a local manufacturer and exporter. Solving problems for clients with South African solutions, this company has taken a 25-year journey, becoming an industry leader through localisation.

“I am a proud South African, born and bred here. As a father, husband, and citizen, it is deeply embedded in me to do everything I can to make this country work,” says Gray.

“From a business perspective, all of our activity is South African by root. We own our properties and our investor base is South African,” he adds.

A Proudly South African company,

The SBS Group demonstrates the success that is possible through local procurement and local production. The company joined the Proudly South African many years ago, inspired by the organisation’s mission and belief in encouraging business success through impactful local operations.

In its 25th year of operation in South Africa, SBS is pleased to highlight its significant accomplishments, despite going through the toughest of times, while preparing for ongoing advancement in the future.

“You see economies going haywire and you see looting” says Gray, “but Proudly South African businesses have to be the custodians of good news. We have to give hope across different tiers. Hope for some is having a job, hope for others is having an education, and hope for others is becoming a millionaire. The ethos of SBS is that we live by the code of ProudlySA.

“We are all proud to be South African and we are seeing global acceptance of our product which opens the door for us to tell the South African story. Our staff and client base buy into that vision and story.”

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Delayne Gray, CEO


Established in 1998, SBS’ early focus was around the import, sale and installation of industrial water tank solutions. A team of three entrepreneurs founded the business, growing quickly through the delivery of first-class service and a strong product range.

“We are 25 years old and we are proud of that. Two of the three founding members still remain in the business It has been a long walk to where we are today as a manufacturer but throughout our journey we have maintained our authenticity to serve South Africa.

On the SBS Tanks side we build infrastructure – reservoirs and water storage solutions – and that has been really good for the country,” says Gray.

From water conservation tanks and fire protection tanks, to mining storage tanks and commercial water tanks, recent examples can be found in the KZN community of Ekukhanyeni where population growth has called for a water storage solution, or at the Bernard Isaacs Primary School in Johannesburg where a municipal pipe failure left the school and learners without water, or at the Blanket Gold Mine in Zimbabwe where the mine is the lifeblood of the community, and at many businesses across South Africa and the globe that are now protected with an SBS Tanks fire water storage solution or backup water tank.

“South Africa, and Africa, are water scarce regions and the impact of climate change is being seen globally. We need to take care of our precious resources – water being vital to our survival,” says Gray. “Our SBS Tanks solutions can be used for rainwater harvesting, storage of water from aquifers or boreholes, as backup water when municipal infrastructure fails, to store bulk water (with less evaporation due to the roof structure) and as part of a closed water circuit, reducing water wastage and recycling water from manufacturing or mining and even effluent wastewater.”

Realising the impact a thriving manufacturing sector can have on

a country, The SBS Group began producing products locally from their base in KwaZulu-Natal. From here, the Proudly South African ethos was quickly adopted.

“We really believed in it,” he says. “We needed to stop importing, create local manufacturing – which in turn created jobs. Our story is one of a South African product, made and designed by South Africans, exported to the world. SBS’ water journey – under the banner of SBS Tanks - is one of a manufacturer and installer of premium water storage solutions. We sell heavily into the African continent. We have offices in Ghana, Kenya, and we have an office in Texas. That is a five-year endeavour and has done exceptionally well, meeting all of the American engineering criteria. We are happy to export to many countries - the product is modular,

exportable, and able to be resold and installed by distributors, although we do have our own installation teams who travel to anywhere they are needed.

“We are better today than we were before,” he adds. “We are an exporter. Our staff contingent has grown. The products that go into making our final SBS Tanks product are sourced in South Africa. We could source all of our bolts from out-ofcountry, but we have elected to buy from a manufacturer in Gauteng at a much higher price, recognising the value of local procurement.”


Success with industrial water tanks opened up doors for SBS in similar sectors. There was a need for South African solutions to South African problems.


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“We saw opportunities in the agricultural industry and that grew a new entity, SBS Agri which is now six years old,” says Gray. “Again, we are proud to say that we underpin the farming community with technologically advanced solutions that we have designed, developed and manufactured locally including our SBS Agri hot air generator and SBS Agri Automatic Fan Control unit. We also supply and install a range of grain bin and silos, grain conditioning and handling equipment such as cleaners, conveyors and bucket elevators.”

SBS Agri expertise, translated into products that fit the need of each farming customer, allow for early harvest of up to three months, faster drying and safer and larger storage capacity. This gives farmers quicker access to markets at important times – when demand is high and supply is low, helping realise prime value for their product and a better

return on their investment.

“We bring storage, conditioning and handling solutions to commercial and private farmers so that they can store safely and effectively process and store more grain. This eradicates the need to rely on imported grain for animal fodder or to buy back their harvest stored at a co-operative due to a lack of on farm storage. In the commercial milling sector, this allows for buying in bulk when prices are good and storing safely and conveniently on site. Our solution is a partner offering which allows farmers and commercial businesses to do better,” explains Gray, adding that this model is for the SA market only and is not exported at this stage.

SBS Agri solutions can be found on farms across South Africa and are helping farmers such as the Baynesfield Estate in the KwaZuluNatal Midlands who can now harvest their animal fodder early, getting it

safely off the field, dried to the perfect moisture content and stored safely at the right humidity and temperature. And the sheep farming operation in Mpumalanga where three impressive 2200-ton silos sparkle in the sun on the vast farm, fitted with grain cleaning, drying and handling equipment – all supplied and installed by SBS Agri.

Along with many others such sites across South Africa, popcorn kernel and animal husbandry farmers in Paulpietersburg trust SBS Agri, and now boast over 6000 tons of additional on-farm grain storage silos.

SBS Energy is the group’s latest offering and comes at a difficult time with South Africa facing national electricity loadshedding that interrupts operations, stops the pumping of water into storage reservoirs resulting in water shortages, and disrupts businesses at an already economically challenging time.

on page 12

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SBS Energy brings the latest in renewable technologies to the market, delivering integrated monitoring and data solutions for clients to ensure sustainability, save costs and help to reduce the pressure off the South African electricity grid, which has the spin-off effect of Building for Better for other businesses that are not able to install solar or backup solutions.

“We now play in three critical sectors, food, water, and energy,” adds Gray. “We realised that wherever possible, we need to service South Africans – business or private. SBS Energy is a more localised offering. We are looking at solutions for midtier businesses, similar to ourselves, that are interrupted by power supply problems. We want to engage where we can augment energy use, save businesses on their energy input costs and provide operational security that keeps the doors open – and the milk fresh. We have grid-tied solutions that offer a great return on investment but

don’t offer backup power, and other solutions that do – they just require a bit more of an investment or a longer time to return profits to the client.”

The SBS Energy platform surrounds the roll out of solar installations and has been proven at the Larsen Farming sugarcane site in KZN where a rooftop project has resulted in reduced operational costs and sustainability through loadshedding. Success was also found at the retail hardware store, Buildit Hillcrest, where the SBS Energy system caters for fluctuations in demand, delivering a 40% monthly cost saving. And at the Gentle Magic cosmetics manufacturing facility in Durban, where SBS Energy facilitated data management tools along with photovoltaic panels, integrated with a generator system to handle grid supply issues and achieve a 37% monthly cost saving.


The success of the past 25 years has positioned The SBS Group strongly for growth. The ascension of the

business to the top of its industry has been remarkable, and shows what is possible when localisation is prioritised. But recent market conditions and an unstable economic environment have bumped the company’s notable progress.

“We have experienced growth of around 20% year-on-year,” details Gray. “Obviously 2020 and 2021 was flat. We were well-positioned for exceptional growth pre-Covid. We had prepared ourselves for a doubling over a five-year period, but that projection has been scaled back. We will become a bigger business, no doubt, but year-onyear growth projections have been challenged. Everybody here would now be happy with 10% year-on-year, while achieving our key objectives of retaining the jobs we have created.”

With around 200 people in the company, across multiple disciplines, The SBS Group supports a wide network of livelihoods. Its procurement spend underpins many other companies, and the commitment to ProudlySA principles (which calls for 50% of cost

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of production to be incurred in South Africa) continues to develop related businesses and communities. But there is pressure. The market is challenged, and Gray is under no illusions.

“Growth is great,” he says. “You can do good things when money is coming in and things are buoyant. But the past two years have been extremely difficult, not only because of financial challenges but because of people. People are hurting. The last two years has been people focused, and that has chewed up profit while restricting product. Operating a business out of KZN has not been easy. We had looting, we had flooding, both of which have not only impacted in the physical form, but manifested in the psychological form. People’s confidence and prioritisation has changed. We are

working to fix people before we focus on products and markets - it is tough.”

In just a few years, SBS has grown from just 30 people to where it is now. But employee base expansion will likely be paused in the shortterm as the company consolidates after a tumultuous period, driven by Covid-19, flooding and looting.

“A business can very quickly become fat and happy in the nice times. For every problem, you can find a person. When you are forced into being creative, you have to become lean and mean. You do things more efficiently and you act with the mindset of a start-up. You strip out complexity and simplify certain things. You realise that you must sift through the ‘nice-tohaves’ and define the ‘need-to-haves’.

“Businesses will be driven to

employ higher quality people as opposed to a larger number of people. There is a journey change. Working remotely, self-motivated, self-managed – it drives you to find higher calibre people,” suggests Gray.


SBS products are manufactured to the highest international standards – ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 – and provide end users with long term quality and reliability. This has resulted in national recognition with the company winning the Durban Chamber of Commerce Exporter of the Year Award on multiple occasions. Delayne Gray is happy.

“We have positioned our brand well, and that is now well-recognised across industry,” he says, warning

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that the South African market must recognise the need for global appeal if it is to remain globally competitive. “South African business must ready itself for global operations through the adoption of technology and addressing working principles. For example, we export to the USA and we have a time difference

which we must address if we want to attract customers. The journey of South African business is one which must accelerate and must quickly get up to speed or risk being left behind,” he says.

At SBS, this is started internally. A culture of partnering with purpose to build for better is deeply embedded across the entire employee base. Gray is passionate about the wider development of South Africa and is keen to do all SBS can do to drive this. He founded the Build for Better initiative to share positivity and bring hope in local communities.

“It’s a platform where we, as a business, want to publicise good stories. We want people to realise that you can do good things but you don’t have to be Nelson Mandela, you can continue to good things that achieve good results, and that is a great thing.

“There is a lot of bad news but you have to keep telling the positive story otherwise you’re part of the problem. It’s not easy, but it has served us well for 25 years of business,” he says.

Community breeds collaboration and growth; it helps keep you accountable, and allows you a space to bounce ideas when times are tough. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 80% of consumers agree that a business must play a role in addressing societal issues. By investing in initiatives such as ProudlySA and Build for Better, SBS is embedding itself as a dedicated South African upliftment vehicle as well as a successful and profitable business – the two are related.

“A very important factor for us is community,” says Gray. “We can’t play a part through the whole country and fix every problem, but where we are

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positioned – Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban – we have made it our business to be a citizen and not just a business. Where we are able to offer help and get involved in a community, we do so. We do it above the line, not so we can get credits. That is a distinct difference and something we need to get other South African companies to realise. Don’t do these things just to tick a box and get a certificate. Do it because it’s what you want to do, because you believe its worthy and right. We all live off the land and people of this country and you have to give back.”

Understanding and delivering on these principles, even when faced with increasing competition and changing workforce dynamics, is why SBS is an industry leader. Exceptional customer service combined with extraordinary corporate citizenship, has allowed

the company to maintain rather than decline, and Gray is confident about the future, again looking to take a new path in the pursuit of growth.

“As a business, we are always focused on expanding our range of products, within the same field, but with a large range to appeal to more. Because we are an engineered solution at the higher-end, we have excluded a lot of the lower end clients, such as private or residential. Typically, we work with industry and commerce but as a business one of our current explorations is around a more affordable offering that is available for all consumers – both in the water storage and energy space. We have always been a B2B operator but we are now exploring the B2C channel,” he says.

And who would bet against this innovative, creative, and responsible

business achieving its goals. 25 years of doing good whilst doing good business has positioned The SBS Group well while the wider economy has taken a knock.

By putting people and community above profit, and by investing in a real way in South Africa, The SBS Group is activating the potential that so many talk about but never engage. It is solving the complex needs of clients, and it is uplifting the communities in which it operates. Exhibiting a story of success that others could replicate, this is certainly a business to follow when searching for growth inspiration in South Africa.

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Three Decades of Strong Growth for Africa’s Forklift Specialist

Material handling experts, Masslift Africa, continue to realise booming growth through a strategy that surrounds the highest quality customer service. The company’s leadership team is confident, celebrating 30 years of success, as it looks to assist clients through an uncertain time.

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For three decades, Masslift Africa has been a powerful force, underpinning the performance of client business, elevating employees, raising the communities in which it operates, and improving itself year-on-year.

A company known for ultimate customer service and premier satisfaction, Masslift is the sole distributor of Mitsubishi forklifts in sub-Saharan Africa. Also responsible for the local distribution of Carer, the company boasts a formidable footprint and aftermarket offering.

Masslift is built on exceptional products from a world-class brand combined with unrivalled understanding and interaction with clients, and a level of community engagement that others can only dream of.

According to CFO, Thembi Mazibuko, Masslift saw in 30 years with a celebratory day of golf and a dinner where suppliers, clients, partners,

and employees came together to pay tribute to a successful brand, with proceeds from the day donated to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.

“It is an amazing milestone for the business,” she says. “Our donation was part of Mandela month activity - it was great and very well received; so much so that our

suppliers matched our donation.” Masslift handed over a cheque for R120,000 in August 2022, with Dr Stanley Maphosa, Interim CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, commenting: “We are truly grateful to companies like Masslift who are throwing their immense weight behind our cause.”

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Marco Caverni (CEO), Thembi Mazibuko (CFO), Shaun Collins (COO) Credit: Delarey Ferreira

This success has all been made possible by the company’s intense client-centric focus, which CEO Marco Caverni puts down to Masslift’s employees.

“I believe we are now at the point where the majority of our people care about the company and it is more than just a job,” he says. “When you get that, you build the right infrastructure, and you treat people in the right way, you gain goodwill which translates into efficiency and productivity. We’ve seen an improved level of service and an improved level of profitability.”


Attracting a number of new clients over the past two years, Masslift has continued to grow and thrive while others have struggled in tough economic conditions. Commercial property in South Africa is expected to grow as an industry by 5% to 2027. The rollout of new distribution centres and warehouses continues unabated as retailers look to meet the demands of a booming digital commerce economy. With Mitsubishi leading the world in design and features for its forklifts, Masslift has a solution to a problem.

“The growth is there, and it is happening organically through us following good business practices and strategy. The key now is to ensure we make our infrastructure and foundation as strong as possible by upskilling our people and ensuring our footprint is robust,” says Caverni referring to regional coverage across all of South Africa and into Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

“We have upgraded our staff count by 25% in the past 18 months – most

are cutting down and retrenching but we are growing at a rapid speed. From a product perspective, we don’t have any major plans to expand as we are busy getting on top of what we have right now. When that settles, we can then go and look for additional products that can fit seamlessly into our infrastructure and complement our current brands,” he adds.

Through the lockdown periods, Masslift lasered in on customer satisfaction, when surety was required above all.

“We have moved from strength to strength,” confirms Mazibuko. “Our

bottom line has grown by more than 60% and that is amazing. Our top line has also grown by more than 50%, and that speaks to how we have improved our infrastructure to better serve our customers – we are reaping those rewards and seeing good returns.”

In February, the company achieved its Level 1 BBBEE rating and this provide customers with scorecard boosts. Currently 71% black-owned, clients receive substantial points in the procurement spend when working with Masslift. The company has also opened up its BBBEE consultants to suppliers in order to assist them in their own transformational journey. This success resulted in recognition for Masslift.

“We were recognised as a top empowerment company at the Topco Media Empowerment conference, winning the Customer Focus category, up against many blue-chip financial service companies,” highlights

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Mazibuko. “That was a great win as we are small compared to the others. We were recognised for being customer-centric and that is a good thing and a pat on the back for us as we strive to offer the best service in the business. For an external party to recognise that, we were delighted. It was all based on how we measure our customer interactions and they felt that we had a comprehensive approach, focussing on customer voice compared to others in the running.”

Perhaps a driver of this is the company’s internal focus on people development. Not only recruiting the best people, but upskilling existing staff is high on the agenda at Masslift. In April, the company was accredited by MerSETA – the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services

Sector Education and Training Authority - to run a learnership scheme.

“That has opened up our apprenticeship programme, enabling us to have a higher intake. We had our first intakes in Cape Town and Durban, and we are working towards further accreditation to allow us to roll out driver training and provide a turnkey solution when it comes to getting forklift operators licensed,” says COO Shaun Collins.

Beyond creating opportunity, Masslift is also concentrating on sustainability. Modern HR practices, and a genuine care for those that carry the brand has helped to drive performance.

“We have had a huge focus within the business around mental health and what we do for our staff to improve that. Things like a councillor

on call for any staff member or any immediate family member, free to all staff. We have a mental health app which helps on numerous different fronts in terms of helping people to reduce anxiety,” says Caverni.

The result of all of this? The company is already ahead of its own growth expectations. “In fact,” says Caverni, “I would say that 80% of our problems have been caused by trying to keep up with infrastructure development and growth that we have seen over the past 18-months. Right now, it’s all hands on deck to ensure we offer the service that we promised to our customers when we did deals with them. It’s infrastructure building, footprint building, making sure we upskill and train our staff, upgrading our accounting system, updating our entire performance management programme – it’s everything.”


Keeping a company moving forward through a pandemic and economic slowdown is heavy work, and there have been challenges. Supply chain issues and transport costs have been

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the major stresses for Masslift.

“From our factory, our lead times have moved from the beginning of 2020 where were at 12 weeks EX Works. That is now six to seven months, with some things taking a full year. We recently ordered some stock which will only arrive next September – that makes things very difficult for us to plan accordingly. There has been huge disruption, and it is ongoing everywhere,” admits Caverni.

To combat the situation, the company has increased its stock holding which brings its own challenges for Mazibuko from a cost management perspective.

“Transport costs have escalated – freight from overseas and local transport, with the price of fuel, has added to the cost of how we markup and sell. There are now fuel surcharges that the ports levy on containers that arrive in the country. It is about keeping the cost base as low as possible in terms of the add-on cost around what is already quite expensive because of the exchange rate. It has been a juggling act trying to manage our stock holding and the cost that comes with that while managing the margins we are making.”

Collins explains how Masslift’s partnership mantra was again vital in mitigating against challenges in the supply chain.

“We had to bolster our stock to meet increased demand from our customers, but we also had to mitigate against a shortage of parts from a

+27 87 805 5992 www.seamaster.co.za sales@seamaster.co.za

supplier point of view. We bolstered our stock holding by 20% in a lot of areas and we also looked at strategizing with our principals, Mitsubishi, around where the shortcomings were and what we needed to do to avoid those challenges. We split our orders and had more regular deliveries in smaller containers, and we had parts arriving more consistently – that has helped us a lot.

“Our stock holding also increased in the regions by a strong percentage to curb the logistics structures when it comes to getting parts from Johannesburg to our branches in Cape Town, Durban, Gqeberha and Mbombela. Our synergy with Mitsubishi has allowed us to mitigate against major upheaval but there have been challenges, without doubt.”

Going forward, the material handling industry that Masslift serves so

effectively is expected to be disrupted. New fuel challenges, new pricing models, new brands, cost challenges, and changing market dynamics will undoubtedly create uncertainty, but Masslift - through its intense efforts around service delivery - will guide clients towards sustainable outcomes. Using everything learned over the demanding past two years, the team is well-placed to advise effectively.

“We now have a benchmark and we have set the expectation levels, and they are rising each year. Our goal is now to maintain,” concludes Caverni.

MITSUBISHIFORKLIFTS.CO.ZA www.enterprise-africa.net / 21
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Strategy Step-Up Strengthens Bata Ambitions

Leading footwear manufacturer, Bata, is changing its approach for the next five years. Gone is the concern and worry instilled by the pandemic and in its place is ambition and excitement about new opportunities and partnerships. MD Michael Wyatt talks to Enterprise Africa about the company’s new strategy and how it will see Bata grow significantly in African markets.

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PRODUCTION: Eleanor Sarbutt-King


//Last year, a leading South African manufacturer, creating much-loved products for consumers around Africa, was consolidating and searching for opportunities post-pandemic. Michael Wyatt, MD at Bata South Africa – the famous maker of robust school shoes and industrial footwear, part of the international Bata Group – told Enterprise Africa that a strategy had been put in place to focus on core business while markets were tight.

Now, the company is busy stepping out again, emerging in a strong position, and targeting significant growth in its trusted markets alongside expansion in new sectors.

Currently the custodians of a number of South Africa’s favourite footwear brands, with a powerful manufacturing facility in KZN, Bata is an important player in the country.

“Our strategy was successful,” says Wyatt of 2021’s plan. “We delivered our budget and we delivered our numbers for the year - we actually

overperformed against what we had set out. It was a successful strategy and it saw us through what we needed to get through.”

Today, he says, the company is thinking about the next steps forward.

“We are working on a five-year plan from 2023 to 2027. That plan entails almost the complete opposite of what we spoke about before. PostCovid, we are looking to expand the business aggressively in South

Africa and Africa. There is a desire to broaden the business beyond school and industrial categories.”


Globally, Bata is a major footwear and fashion organisation. The group sells 150 million pairs of shoes each year, employees 32,000 people around the world, owns 21 manufacturing sites, and boasts more than 125 years of experience. The relative short-term challenge of the pandemic is far outweighed by the many years of success in Bata. Established in South Africa in 1947 and employing 500 people, Bata has strong ambitions for growth.

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Continues on page 26
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“We are working on our partnerships with key retailers in South Africa and Africa – that is the big plan,” confirms Wyatt. “There was no real negative news in the past 12-months. We didn’t have to go through any retrenchments or strike action, like other companies, as a result of a strong Covid strategy. If we had retrenched, we would be in a much more difficult situation now with having to search for new, inexperienced staff.”

From an already strong footing, Bata will look to climb into new categories, harnessing the strength of its existing lines to introduce retail partners to new brands from the global Bata portfolio. This will mean continuing to manufacture locally but adding importing and wholesaling of alternative products, away from the core markets of school shoes and industrial safety footwear with PPE.

“This plan involves us partnering with South Africa’s leading retail chains to win shelf space within these chains

for Bata’s portfolio of brands, which we call the Global 7. This includes brands such as North Star, Power, Bubblegummers, Weinbrenner, Comfit, Toughees, and Bata Industrials. While doing this, we don’t want to lose focus on our core business and we are still very much focused on our core categories as well as being a local manufacturer. Post-Covid, there is a lot more emphasis and willingness to start reinvesting in systems and the back end of the business,” explains Wyatt.

New brands means a whole new level of support required to deliver for retail customers. Ordering, processing, logistics, marketing and more will all be boosted by investment into new systems, reducing the need for outsourcing and retaining strict control over quality.

“We are launching a new ERP system in Africa and we have just launched SAP HCM (Human Capital Management) for our HR department. We have launched a new warehouse management system, and we have launched a direct-to-

consumer ecommerce platform.

“South Africa is now the regional hub for Africa for Bata in terms of IT. It is all about setting the business up for the next five years,” says Wyatt, adding that a new structure has been formed within the business including new leaders in sales and marketing, fresh designers in the footwear team, and a new head of sneakers to focus purely on athletic products from Bata.


Coming out of a challenging two years, there are many hurdles that linger for businesses searching for growth. The economy is still slow, investor confidence is weak, and consumers are battling against inflationary pressure and increasing interest rates. Globally, political landscapes are changing, and logistics and supply chains remain challenged.

But Bata in South Africa was quick to put in place strict protocols to protect the business from external issues, and this focus has remained. Controlling everything within its remit,

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Continued from page 24

the company continues as a beacon of quality manufacturing in the country, and endlessly displays ethical and sustainable business management.

“We were very focussed on cashflow as we never knew what was around the corner. We will never lose sight of that, but the environment is now much more conducive for us to seize opportunities,” states Wyatt. “I think that the retailers themselves have changed their outlook and they are all coming out after Covid and facing global logistics challenges, inflation, the war in Europe. In South Africa, we had the riots in 2021 and the floods in 2022, we also have record loadshedding and a number of economic challenges to overcome, and within this environment retailers are looking for points of differentiation and they are all looking for opportunities. As a global retailer, we can offer our customers in Africa products, brands, and learnings from

the rest of the world that they wouldn’t necessarily get from elsewhere or from other local brands. These partnerships will be key for us going forward and will be mutually beneficial as we are not interested in only wholesaling a brand; we really want to partner with retailers and offer them something different and exclusive while in return helping both to grow business.”

The country’s big retailers have boomed in the past 12 months, with reports suggesting that the top brands in the country grew by more than 20% collectively, opening new stores and building new digital capabilities to the delight of customers. If Bata can strike significant and sustainable partnerships with South Africa’s retailers – especially those active on the continent – increased market share should quickly become more attainable.

“The South African manufactured product is a huge part of it, but this strategy will also take into account


more of an import arm as well. There are certain brands that we can’t manufacture in South Africa - for example, sports shoes as there are certain technologies that other countries have mastered. We will continue to offer a high percentage of our total output from local manufacturing but we will grow by bringing other brands in from Bata internationally,” Wyatt says.

As this strong and busy company prepares for an exciting period of longterm growth, it is now clear that all steps are moving forward and the road ahead is full of opportunity. A new strategy, a new structure, new technologies, and new partnerships will all result in further joy for customers around South Africa, and all over the continent.

“The last two years have been cautious and focused on our core business but we are now looking at an expansion model, with more risk, where we will invest in the brands, back end, staff, and lay the foundations for stepping forward through to 2027,” concludes Wyatt.

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HRP EcoTile®

Known for strength and longevity, tiles from Harvey Roofing Products are favoured by many in the construction industry. But this historic supplier is busy innovating, launching a new recycled and recyclable tile that will change the approach to the roofing industry, encouraging a more circular ecosystem. GM Albie Jordaan talks to Enterprise Africa about the exciting new EcoTile®.

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PRODUCTION: Tommy Atkinson
to Totally Disrupt
Roofing Market


Exciting things are happening at the Harvey Roofing Products (HRP) plant in Gauteng. In a world-first, this expert manufacturing business has installed all-new equipment capable of producing an innovative, strong, and in-demand new product that will reshape the company’s journey in the future.

Historically, HRP (part of Macsteel Service Centres SA) has been a preferred manufacturer of steel roof tiles. The company’s steel tile is stronger, longerlasting, lighter, and will not succumb to adverse weather. The paint used is of the highest standard available anywhere and is guaranteed against abnormal fading for 15 years.

But steel is expensive, and local production has been under pressure for years. Chemicals used in paint are rising in cost. With protection of client property highest of the list of priorities for HRP, the company looked to cover itself – futureproofing, managing cost, but never budging on quality.

Experimenting away from its familiar material of steel, HRP has

invested in a sustainability initiative that will drive a circular economy strategy within the business, while providing the strength and durability that the brand has been built on for the past 55 years.

“As a management team, we looked at the situation and it is similar to that of four years ago,” says General Manager, Albie Jordaan. “The cost of steel and cost of paint is a risk we cannot control so we agreed we must diversify the

business. For the first time in more than 50 years, we started investigating other options. We are in the roofing game and we started looking at other products.

“We interacted with an inventor of a new concept that would change the landscape of roofing, not just in SA but internationally. It has been under the radar for a long time as we were fearful of being copied or reverse engineered. We found this

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new product that is not steel, we went through all the research, but realised that if we are to launch a new product that is not steel, then it must tick all the boxes from a contracting point of view while also being green. The product must be sustainable – that is the way to go and that is the future.”

The essentials from a contractor include easy and fast installation, low maintenance, weatherproof, attractive, compatible with solar panels, Agrément certification, and quality-assured with SANS-10177-123 accreditation. With these successfully achieved in testing, the company launched the Harvey EcoTile®, made from 98% waste materials. This breakthrough product is 100% recyclable and provides all the strength that would be expected of a HRP tile.

Full production is expected to begin in February 2023 but Jordaan is excited by the extent of enquiries rolling in already.

“Our plant is a world-first, there is no other plant like this anywhere in the world. It’s fully automated with seven robots. It extrudes an engineered product – a mineral composite, 100% waste material,” details Jordaan. “The components comprise HDPE recycled plastic, which acts as a binding agent, and mineral waste. Our production plant is waterless. When building a plant of this magnitude, you cannot buy off a shelf – everything is designed according to our specifications. Many of the products within are imported to ensure the very best. Then, Covid hit and we faced some challenges, but we are almost there.

“The interest has been unreal – I have never seen anything like it,” he smiles. “People complain about economic circumstances, but this new tile has taken the market by storm – we’ve had interest from Europe, Australia, around Africa, and the product has created overwhelming interest. We are not at full capacity but we think we should be there by Q1 2023. The plant has the capability of producing 28,000 tiles per day.”


This new focus on the EcoTile® does not mean wholesale change for HRP’s strategy. “We are still manufacturing the traditional Harvey tile,” confirms Jordaan.

Absolute quality - whether on commercial, domestic or industrial - is guaranteed through a 20-year warranty, and each tile is inspected before being stamped with the Harveytile Quality seal. This is the same across the company’s Elite Tile, Thatch Tile, Solar Bracket, Greystone, Harveycote®, and EcoTile®. However, input costs and margins cannot be ignored. In South Africa, steel prices have rocketed.

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Weak local production followed by supply chain and transport issues resultant from the Russian war in Ukraine, and long-term economic issues, have fuelled the steel market with uncertainty. Similarly with paint and coatings, sourcing basic inputs has become expensive, and those increases are passed through the value chain.

Even since Enterprise Africa’s last discussion with Albie Jordaan just two years ago, the market has shifted dramatically. “A lot has changed, and when things change you have to adapt – that is what we’ve done,” he says.

“What has transpired, even before Covid hit, looking at our companywe have two main input costs, steel and paint – there has been a strong need for change. Given our 20-year warranty, we can’t use any inferior product; we only use quality, there are no corners cut. In our industry, if my cost is subject to the cost of steel and paint, I have no control over those

components and there are escalating steel prices. Coupled with that, there is also a subdued market which puts you under pressure. We have Covid in SA, we have high unemployment, high inflation, and it all makes your tile expensive. When that happens, you see a reduction in sales and that puts any company under pressure.”

This environment catalysed the company’s investigation of alternative products. Revolutionising the industry by designing steel tiles to replace concrete, mitigating against South Africa’s harsh climate, HRP is known as a trailblazer and was happy to live up to expectation with the EcoTile®. With minimal change or disruption in the roofing industry in decades, the steel tile and the new recyclable tile are testament to the pioneering nature of HRP and demonstrates the company’s desire to drive change.

“It has taken a number of painful exercises to develop this new product.

We have been building plant for three years as we realised that many have tried to innovate but they often fail because of product mix and scale – you must have volume. If you don’t have the market and you don’t have volume, you might as well not get out of bed,” says Jordaan.

He adds that the company’s 175 people have been key in getting the new product through difficult development stages, while servicing clients with the existing product range.

“When you produce a new product, you have to ensure you meet certain standards through testing. We have passed all the tests with flying colours. This tile is lightweight (70% lighter than a concrete tile) so transport costs are reduced, you require less roof trusses, it cannot corrode, the wind cannot blow it off – it provides many savings. We have developed a unique solar bracket that fits without perforating the tile. Solar will be the

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way to go in South Africa because of the unreliability of our energy system,” says Jordaan, highlighting a new green focus for HRP, feeding into the company’s new long-term direction.


When full capacity is reached at the new HRP plant in early 2023, the success of the EcoTile® will become clear. Currently, estimates suggest that South Africa alone has a housing backlog of more than two million. And many existing formal homes require significant investment in terms of structure to bring them up to modern international standards. This creates opportunity for HRP. If current demand and interest materialises, the company, alongside its shareholder, would be keen to expand further.

“Macsteel has an appetite for investment, and this plant cost a lot of money, but it was challenging to secure during a tough period. We still believe that if this plant is successful, we will build a second plant as we have learned so much,” explains Jordaan.

“If you want to complete a plant of this magnitude you have to automate. We partnered with an expert in robotics – Yaskawa. When the product is extruded, you have to cut off before moving it into presses. From there it moves on conveyors onto processing, packaging, and that is not an easy process,” he says of the complex system in place to produce the new tile.

But, even with the positivity around the product, viable economic conditions must be present for true success to be achieved. Infrastructure strikes around ports and rail systems have added to an already beleaguered economic backdrop, but the construction industry


is expected to grow in real terms. It’s a complicated time to manage, but HRP has experienced many peaks and troughs through its long history and is keen on encouraging local trade.

“The cost of recycled plastic has increased in the past few months and that is a consequence of the Russian war in Ukraine. Mineral waste is available in abundance, and the main cost is transport. 100% of the input for the Harvey EcoTile® is locally sourced. We are proudly South African and we try to support local industry wherever possible,” says Jordaan.

He is optimistic about the future with the EcoTile® signifying a new approach, and the traditional product range continuing to provide unrivalled quality.

“The majority of Harvey is sold to retailers and eventually the DIY

market. In that space, the consumer is focused on other areas. They are not focused on a construction product that is not cheap – that is why we diversified. I do see rays of hope with increased sales on the horizon as we enter new markets,” he concludes.

Importantly, alongside the new EcoTile® and focus on sustainability, HRP will continue to deliver its tried and tested promise – durable, low maintenance, versatile, weatherproof, lightweight tiles for any structure, with a 20-year warranty. Like its product, this is a company set for the long-term, with innovative new products paving the way for a more circular future.

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Handling South Africa’s Production Needs


Jotun Goes Lean in Growth Push

Jotun Paints South Africa commands significant market share across various industries because of its delivery of the absolute pinnacle of performance coatings. Paints from Jotun are thoroughly researched, backed by global application, made to international standards, and manufactured locally. The company’s new MD and National Sales Manager talk to Enterprise Africa about ongoing success across southern Africa.

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PRODUCTION: Tommy Atkinson


//Protectors of property, Jotun Paints (Jotun), is one of the world’s leading coatings corporates, delivering premium quality products for decorative, marine, protective, and powder applications. With more than 10,000 employees globally, active across more than 100 countries, generating operating revenues of more than US$2 billion, Jotun is a powerhouse paint player.

In South Africa, the regional business looks after the entire SADC area, focussed on marine coatings and heavy industrial applications. Last year – it’s 25th in SA - Enterprise Africa heard from former-Managing Director, Trevor Maughan about strong Jotun Paints SA ambitions after a very challenging period.

In 2022, Maughan has retired and another Jotun-lifer, Martin Ibsen, has taken the reins in South Africa, hoping to roll out a new strategy of lean management to mitigate against the new challenges that exist as a result of the old.

“You have to be lean,” he says. “You can no longer rely on getting

materials within six weeks. In fact, we are now talking about three or four months in many cases. We have to store more to be more flexible. We have signed a new lease at a warehouse with extra storage capacity to facilitate the growth that we plan for.”


Producing the highest quality paints in the world at scale, to a uniform standard, and holding enough stock to satisfy clients across multiple

industry sectors is no easy task. Demand has been decimated and routes to market totally twisted, and this is where Jotun’s size and experience has helped it to carefully navigate the difficult conditions.

“Covid certainly put the pressure on,” admits Ibsen “but we think we are in a good place having realised good growth. We do struggle with the continuous flux with raw material pricing and availability. Making paint is very high-tech in many ways. We make paint for hot surfaces, industrial coatings, offshore protection – it requires a lot of research. Many people could go online and find out how to mix some paint, but how to do you make large quantities of chemically identical paint, at different locations all

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over the world. That requires sourcing raw materials globally, from global partners, but at the same time trying to source as much locally as possible,” he explains, adding that some ingredients are only available from Germany and simply not manufactured locally.

With a Cape Town production facility, Jotun Paints SA does invest in a local supply chain, and has benefited from strong relationships which Ibsen is keen to foster further.

“It is important to support the supply chain,” he states. “Financially, it can be cheaper to import everything, but with current shipping lanes and pricing, there are risks. Jotun has a strategy around partnering with suppliers both locally and globally and we do want to grow African businesses by having African partners as much as possible by investing in that supply chain.

“Two years ago, we did have to manage costs effectively during the pandemic and we are rebuilding relationships with suppliers to ensure we support business in Africa and an African supply chain.”


National Sales Manager: Performance Coatings, Gareth Alcock also has concerns about the disruption in the supply chain, but insists that the company’s focus on quality product will continue to set it apart.

“Shipping has been a disaster since Covid, and it continues,” he says. “What makes it even more difficult is that there are not as many big vessels coming into South Africa. Large vessels go to Singapore or similar and then unload stock onto smaller vessels before sending them into South Africa. That pattern effects everyone in terms of the supply chain.”

To manage this situation, especially in combination with economic uncertainty (globally and locally), some businesses have looked to cut cost. Jotun has no interest in price waring with competition and gains its





market share through value around excellence for client and end-user.

“There has been a noticeable impact with companies trying to reduce costs in their operations, trying to make up for the losses in the previous years. We are combating that by focusing on quality – it’s not all about price – and selling higher volumes of product that will give you a lot more per square meter. Not to mention the difference the performance of the products will give - good antifouling performance, chemical or heat resistance for a long period brings the value needed for the end client.

“We are also keen on serving the market in the SADC region. We have seen a reduction in stock holding, but sales remain very strong. The market has come back, we do see a change in the market, but it’s about the amount

of stock being purchased combined with our conversations about the quality of our products to combat the pricing issue,” explains Alcock.

The paints and coatings industry is expected to boom in South Africa, reaching $2.1 billion by 2026. This should be fuelled by growth in the construction and infrastructure sectors, as well as a reduction in imports resulting from supply chain disarray. To take full advantage of this opportunity, Jotun is reinforcing its foundations in SA, focussing on development and retention of the very best people.


“Jotun has a policy of changing management every five years. We have a great pool of managers to pick from and we choose to effectively benefit the local unit with a global

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Steelpack is a fast-developing packaging company in South Africa with an ambition for growth. We are experts in developing metal packaging solutions. Steelpack is a trusted partner to its customers, producing quality and reliable products as well as offering customer service excellence. It is part of our business practice to ensure the recyclability of our products and to reduce their impact on the community and the environment. uses the latest decorative technology which enables world class finishes and resolutions, while maintaining low minimum order quantities and stock commitments. Artwork changes have been made easy and flexible between production runs. No longer do you need to commit to a vast quantity of printed plate. strive for continuous improvement and continue to seek possibilities in all new and available technologies. is based in Durban and in Johannesburg, with main production facilities in Durban.
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supplies the chemical, industrial coatings, cosmetics, automotive and speciality sectors.


perspective,” says Ibsen, a veteran of the company for a quarter century, holding posts around across the globe including senior roles in Denmark, China, Norway, and Germany.

“By moving people around, we contribute to our strategy at global level, which is organic growth. We do not buy companies, we employ good people, and we bring them up through the systems. We like people to have a base level of theoretical knowledge and we are looking at systemising our trainee programme to continuously bring in interns. We try to then keep the best people and assist them to grow as we grow, rather than trying to go out and find superman in the market but realising he’s busy. Training and sharing across borders is an important element within Jotun values, every year we have fellow penguins doing training in other countries. Jotun also offer both short

term and international assignment for those keen on an international experience. This helps the retention of staff - we have several employees with over 25 years’ experience.

“If you look at the countries where Jotun has had real success over the years – Turkey, China, Korea, Saudi, Oman etc – that has been our principle; bring in young people, train them up, give them challenges, allow them to grow, and make it common for people to stay with us for 15-20 years.”

This strategy is clearly paying dividends, allowing the company’s people (or ‘penguins’ as they are affectionately known) to drive growth across the board. In heavy industry, Jotun leads the way across multiple sectors, and Ibsen has no intention of losing momentum.

“We are growing and investing, and we intend on that continuing,” he says.

“We are growing in the oil and gas industry in Angola with all of the majors that are active there. Local applicators buy from us and some of them are part of bigger chains.

“We see growth potential in mining,” he adds. “We are interested in seeing how development continues in Mozambique. That is where our global reach comes into play. We have a global team of people working with very niche products, of the highest quality, for projects like this. Our colleagues in Korea and France work closely with the various stakeholders on projects like this.”

Alcock agrees, stating that market leadership across the industries in which Jotun plays is always the goal.

“In the past four or five years, we have gained a significant portion of market share in the industry and we are one of the market leaders in terms

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of protective coatings in South Africa.

“We are still strong in the refinery business, and we are the market leader in shipping. We are very strong in the renewable energy sector as well as the infrastructure market – buildings, bridges etc. These remain our core focus right now.”

Investigations into new products, where Jotun is strong globallyincluding for flooring and intumescent coatings for southern African

applications – will continue to drive innovation for the business in SA. With many focussed on ‘green credentials’ as a strategy for future growth, Jotun calls them Greensteps - especially in industry sectors that have previously struggled with green transformation –Jotun has set out its ambitions at group level, but Ibsen is clear that significant positivity has already been achieved. Sustainability is on the agenda in Jotun both globally and locally, when it comes to customers, the most sustainable system is often the best performing and longest lasting. Here, Jotun has example of coating systems protecting offshore structures for more than 40 years.

“It is important to remember that there is a drive around being green but at the end of the day, the greenest thing you can do is make something that lasts - that is why we are so successful,” he says.


After releasing a very positive set of results in October 22 - including increases in sales volumes, pricing, top line growth and operating revenue –the global Jotun group is in very good shape, navigating the lingering Covid challenges without major setback. Agreeing the start of production at a new facility in Algeria (in partnership with Med Investment Holding Spa and Technover P), Jotun’s success in Africa now covers Africa from south to north.

From Cape Town, the local operation’s new leadership will be looking to push hard for continued success with its strategy, and will always delight clients, protecting property with every application.

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Excitement Builds Around New Application Launch

South African manufacturer of leading complementary medicines and supplements, Biotherapeutics, is busy preparing to launch a new application that will boost client products. The company is known for its sterling quality focus, and this is exciting for clients and end-users on the hunt for something extra as they opt for healthy lifestyles.

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The African cosmetics and supplementary health industry is rife with opportunity. Pre pandemic, the cosmetics sector was estimated to be worth $400 billion but just 3% of this was African. The continental nutraceutical industry is on a growth path, expected to develop by more than 6% annually until 2027. Clearly, the scope for expansion is enormous. Combine this vast open playing field, with a desire for localisation, and you begin to understand the opportunities that exist for innovators.

The continent is home to a rich

bounty of ingredients that boost cosmetics and related products with vitamins, minerals, and other extras that would otherwise be hard to include. According to global market advisory firm Modor Intelligence, the South African cosmetics and personal care products market is set to achieve more than 6.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2022 and 2027. With retailers desperate for points of difference, and manufacturers hungry for shelf space, there is so much product development underway in South Africa as the war for market share booms. South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria

are the three key markets for African business, with the rest of the continent making up the balance. Manufacturers of active and enhancing ingredients are understandably looking to partner with retailers and brands that can access multiple African geographies.

Based just south of Pretoria, close to the Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Biotherapeutics is recognised as a manufacturing hub of excellence, creating innovative probiotic products for pharmaceutical companies, specialising in additives for a range of health applications. Creating liquids, capsules, tablets, blister packs, and more, the company is known for its immaculate processes and highly knowledgeable employee base. The product portfolio consists of probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, fats, oils and fatty acids, digestive enzymes, CBD combinations, oil encapsulation

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technology, quality assurance, shelf life and stability studies.

However, following strong recent performance – buoyed by incessant demand for vitamins and minerals through the pandemic –Biotherapeutics is set to add to its product range, bringing an all-new trademarked application to the market; something which is generating a lot of enthusiasm internally.


“We have a newly trademarked application which is still in the development stage, but it is something

that we are very excited about as a first for South Africa,” explains Chief Operating Officer, Nazrana Sanker. “We want to get to market in the next six months. We are ready for market now, but we are busy generating interest with our clients. We are working on shelf life and background information and we should have that in the next three months.”

As a third-party manufacturer, this new application will likely be included in recipes for different brands, providing a unique selling proposition. In the past, Biotherapeutics has been a key supplier of ingredients

and related products for major African pharmaceutical brands including Adcock Ingram, iNova, Kenza Health, CPharm, Boutique Formulations, Activo Pharmaceuticals, Future Health, Sfera, African Dynamics, Biogen, USN, and more.

Of course, when servicing client at the top end of the market, quality is non negotiable and Biotherapeutics has been a standard-setter in terms of quality since its formation by CEO Charles Horn – a Ph.D Microbiologistin 1998. Since then, the company has grown to house modern and complex equipment, a workforce of more than 30

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PROUD SUPPORTER AND SUPPLIER TO BIOTHERAPEUTICS 011 609 1488 sales@iswshrink.co.za iswshrink.co.za

experts, while becoming a contributor to a strong local value chain.

“We focus on being small, but our culture surrounds our clients being happy while we provide the best

quality,” confirms Sanker, adding that Biotherapeutics operates in a way that makes it almost an extension of its client’s business, working hand-in-hand to deliver premier quality products.

“We focus on quality in the supply chain – that is a big issue for us. Production is a labour-intensive process and the way we work allows us to keep control over quality. Our products are temperature sensitive and our clients must collect from us with the correct vehicles. We have advanced storage capacity, with HVAC systems to regulate the environment, on site at our manufacturing plant.

“If we have to shift our lead times from two weeks to six weeks, that creates dissatisfaction and that is why we like to be so close to our customers,” she says.

SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN Clients value Biotherapeutics’ input so highly because of the proven scientific benefits of the products the company distributes. Probiotics are widely accepted as key in aiding digestion and maintaining optimum bacterial health in the gut. Amino acids help to break down foods and grow and repair body tissue. Vitamins and minerals are proven to have multiple health benefits including reductions in stress, healthy aging, improved cardiovascular health, better eyesight, and stronger bones.

In this category, South Africa (and the rest of the world) realised a supply versus demand breakdown during the Covid-19 pandemic. Consumers searched desperately for healthy supplements to keep immunity at an optimum, buying up whatever stock

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pharmacies and retailers could get. The country’s R7bn complementary healthcare market boomed by 22.6% in 2021. Over the counter vitamin sales increased by more than 100%, with vitamin C and zinc at the top of many shopping lists.

“We had big demand during Covid and we had a lot of companies looking to get their products out there while

boosting their brand,” says Sanker. “According to our demand, there was not too much immediate impact for big pharma during Covid. More of our small clients grew during that period.”

With customers growing, a market blossoming, and very few competitors able to deliver the level of quality around which Biotherapeutics has built its name, now is a good time for the business – despite macroeconomic conditions that are giving many companies are reason to worry.

For Sanker, the future looks bright and the focus will always surround quality and client satisfaction.

“Our three-year plan is based on the new trademarked application that we are busy with at the moment. We don’t want to grow too big too fast as

we would lose quality and customer satisfaction. We know of big pharma companies that our clients have approached, and they could never get products out in time and to retail within their timescales,” she says.

From the facility in Pretoria –where Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations govern each undertaking – Biotherapeutics will mix and blend and make with a proudly South African mantra, building lasting relationships with clients and bringing first-class products for a demanding and plentiful sector.


Respublica to

Successfully completing a significant funding drive, breaking ground on new sites, and developing positive student communities that bring life and learning together, Respublica is leading the way in the South African student accommodation industry, with eyes on continental growth in the long term. CEO Craig McMurray talks to Enterprise Africa about the company’s success.

www.enterprise-africa.net / 47
PRODUCTION: Tommy Atkinson
Grow in Fertile African Student Accommodation Market


//Property development in South Africa is on a roll.

Retailers are funding a major boom in storage capacity. Logistics companies are busy with internationalstandard distribution centres. Housing companies are inundated with requests for new developments. Infrastructure businesses are servicing a swelling distribution centre industry. But insatiable demand for student accommodation is providing major opportunities for those that know how to deliver.

Established in 2010, Respublica is one of the country’s leading developers, owners, and operators of student accommodation. This is a business that not only can deliver, but goes beyond simple creation of effective buildings, providing turnkey, endto-end services in the development of accommodation and ongoing nurturing of a student community and effective learning environment.

CEO Craig McMurray is an experienced industry pro, and he is excited to share news of a successful

fund-raising campaign which has seen Respublica partner with local and international financial institutions to support development of safe, affordable, quality student housing in South Africa, particularly for students from low-income households.

The International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank), French development institute PROPARCO, Bopa Moruo Private Equity, and RMB Ventures injected more than R1.1 billion into Respublica, adding significant capacity to the company’s growth strategy.

Already home to 10,000 student beds, Respublica will reach 20,000 by 2028, and the business will continue contributing to three macro South African problems: education and unemployment, quality property, and ethical and

sustainable business development.

“Supporting human capital development, including through improved access to student accommodation, is vital to spurring sustainable and inclusive economic growth in South Africa. Our aim is to ensure that all students in South Africa–particularly underserved students from low-income households–have access to high-quality, safe, affordable housing from which to pursue their studies,” said IFC Country Manager for South Africa, Adamou Labara.


Currently, Respublica is busy on site with new projects in KZN and Gauteng as the demand from learners show no signs of abating.

“We have three new building sites right now, which will deliver another

Craig McMurray, CEO

1200 student beds by the end of this year,” says McMurray. “That will take our portfolio to more than 10,000 beds. One project is a greenfield, servicing the University of KZN. We have another 700 beds in Johannesburg, an expansion of our existing site, servicing Wits University. Those projects should start trading at the end of the academic year in February 23.”

The company employs around 200 people permanently, outsourcing only security, cleaning, construction, and some engineering functions. It is the holistic approach to solving multiple problems in one go that truly separates Respublica from others. Corporate in structure, but small and nimble enough to take decisions quickly, this is a business that puts clients and end users first.

The achieve this, the company has developed itself to go beyond property development. It is an industry leader in the provision of aspirational lifestyles, and the support therein of the country’s students and future workforce.

“The motto of the business

is that it’s not about the bed, we are selling a lifestyle,” confirms McMurray. “That lifestyle comes with a Res Life programme and that has fundamental pillars which provide support to students, leveraging on academic support and tutoring, student well-being and mental health, sports, and social and community programmes. They get a world-class facility that is modern and amenities-

rich, but we are about providing an aspirational lifestyle where they know they have the best chance of being successful in their studies.”

Historically, it has only been students on campus at the country’s top universities who would get to experience this part of student life. “It was never available for private students who couldn’t be in an oncampus residence. We are now able

RESPUBLICA www.enterprise-africa.net / 49


to replicate that and largely improve and exceed the offering to students outside of their actual academic study,” highlights McMurray.

In 2021, government spent R43 billion on free university tuition, encouraging students from poor and working-class backgrounds to access further education. “Other than Cuba, we are not aware of any country in the world that provides such comprehensive higher education support for poor students. And all this is a free bursary that does not have to be paid back anymore since 2018,” said Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.

But affordability and availability of accommodation remains far behind. McMurray and Respublica have taken learnings from around the world and applied to the unique South African landscape with great effect. The company’s portfolio of residences includes Saratoga Village, Yale Village and The Fields,

which provide accommodation for University of Johannesburg, Central Johannesburg College and University of the Witwatersrand students. In Midrand, Princeton House services students from Pearson International (ex MGI). In Pretoria, Hatfield Square, West City, Urban Nest and Eastwood Village accommodate students from Tshwane University of Technology and University of Pretoria.

“When setting up this business, I travelled extensively in the USA, UK and Australia where student accommodation is far more mature compared to SA. What became apparent is that the private accommodation market is tailored towards international students, with mid to higher levels of affordability. In SA and Africa, it is all about affordability with the majority of students coming from lower LSM groups, under huge pressure, and that puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to successful studies,” details McMurray.


Where students live life while studying makes a major difference. According to QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) - the world’s leading provider of services, analytics, and insight to the global higher education sector - accommodation provides students with a ‘sense of belonging and security’ which can encourage them to take on the risks and challenges of higher education, and to achieve the associated academic and life growth. “A student’s living space can directly affect their academic performance; arguably one of the most important parts of the university experience,” stated a 2019 QS report.

Respublica’s aim is to deliver a learning community that impacts all aspects of life positively. While academic performance is often considered as the only measure of a successful university stay, there is now clear evidence to suggest that multiple factors feed into this.

“A lot of people and companies

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see us as a real estate business, and while that is true to a certain extent, we are all about managing student communities,” details McMurray

“We have a strong social imperative in terms of the impact we are trying to make as business, over and above the financial returns that must be justified and delivered to shareholders,” he says. “One of our most important ambitions is our social impact. Supporting education covers two very important aspects, firstly education and secondly social

housing. You could also say that thirdly we are very concerned with student well-being and mental health, which post-Covid has become a very real issue. Every week, we deal with suicide issues, GBV issues, and more. You must have support staff, training, and educational programmes to teach students about this while giving access to support.”

Respublica handles community development, and is an in-sourcer when it comes to daily operations on site. Little is left to third parties

and the company retains control over as much as it can to deliver its community concept. “We don’t want to be security or cleaning specialists and we outsource those to a big national firm. We concentrate on student administration, letting, leasing, and rental collections, as well as managing student communities – that is the core of our business,” adds McMurray.

Communities are already strong across the portfolio with strong testimonials received regularly from The Fields, Urban Nest, West City, Eastwood Village and more. “The past five months have been nothing short of incredible, in that the expectations I had, are met, far beyond what I had imagined,” said Lincoln House resident, Dineo Monethi. “Having lived in a residence on campus, my focus was only on the completion of my degree – little did I know that



I would be experiencing something far greater as well. I have grown as an individual through the people I have met here, and the initiatives conducted.”


For McMurray, a former-farmer and then banker turned property expert, growth is of course at the forefront of strategy development. Using the funding from investment partners, the number of beds under management will grow, and the opportunities created will also expand. But this entrepreneur has ambitions beyond South Africa, and is keen on creating standards around Africa where student accommodation remains a nascent industry.

“The IFC and PROPARCO have strong development mandates, and good coverage on the African continent, and we are trying to leverage our operational platform and our IP in this specific sector into those geographies that haven’t formally started a growth phase with student accommodation,” he says.

“These development agencies and finance institutions that are wanting to put capital in, but don’t have the confidence that there is a level of experience required to run such an operationally intensive business, can leverage us through their investment to assist them in other geographies where there is demand for student accommodation.”

According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, there was a 21% increase in the number of students in tertiary education in Africa between 2012 and 2017, and the number continues to boom as a young population eagerly prepares for future opportunities. But there is a lack of suitable accommodation and the booming demand v supply conundrum is attracting international investors who see the opportunity as an emerging asset class. This is why McMurray sees so much potential firstly in South Africa, but eventually across the borders.

“There are certainly obstacles and here in SA - we like to create obstacles

for ourselves - but there is without doubt major opportunity. We do have competition and the economics are now a lot tougher than it was when we started. Affordability is always a challenge at all levels. Being able to deliver a product in terms of building cost, capital cost, as well as monthly operating cost to operate the beds on a credible basis with a student as the end user, remains challenging.

“Demand exceeds supply many times over and the challenge is to put together feasible projects that make sense financially while still being affordable for students in general.”

The additional support and schemes provided by Respublica show a thorough understanding of the industry and a wider reason for being, beyond creating nice buildings for profit. Ensuring first-class experience while delivering for both student and university is not something as high on the list of priorities for many competitors in the industry.

“It’s more relevant in the African

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context because of levels of poverty and affordability. Many students come from impoverished backgrounds and they are entering tertiary education for the first time, with their families never having been to university. There is a lot of pressure on students financially and

psychologically. Making sure they have access to support is absolutely critical.

“We have an aggressive growth profile that we will follow over the next five to seven years.

Our expertise is building and operating student residences,” says McMurray.

This model speaks to the end-to-end nature of Respublica – a very deliberate structure, allowing the company to retain quality through the value chain.

“We specialise in the design and development management of any new facilities. We will source land, raise funding, design the product, and manage the development to get it delivered. We run all the property management from administration through leasing and rental collections to student affairs and residential community. We also perform the asset management function, the same as it would be handled in any industry, with capital raising, acquisitions,

disposals etc,” explains the CEO.

With this level of expertisefrom seed, through growth, all the way to distribution – McMurray and team can call on almost unrivalled knowledge and experience to satisfy students, educational institutions, financiers, and governments.

“We need to find opportunities and those could be land for development and properties to acquire in the South African context. We want to expand our management footprint outside of South Africa, bringing everything including our software to new markets. We want to move into areas that are don’t have a lot of formal student accommodation and help them establish the industry in those areas. We have right sized our balance sheet and we have good scope to continue growing our business,” he concludes.

www.enterprise-africa.net / 53 RESPUBLICA WWW.RESPUBLICA.CO.ZA


From one 40-bedroom hotel in East London, Premier Hotels has swelled into a hospitality brand renowned for delivering authentic guest experiences presiding over 24 hotels and resorts across South Africa. Travelling is very much back on the itinerary, confirms Group Head of Marketing David Shevil, and Premier is refreshed and ready to welcome back tourists from near and far.

www.enterprise-africa.net / 55 Comfortably the Best: Premier Secures Improvement, Expansion and Growth
PRODUCTION: Tommy Atkinson


//Over 30 years in the industry, Premier Hotels & Resorts has become the go-to expert in developing and managing hotels, conference centres and restaurants.

“From humble beginnings in the Eastern Cape, to becoming one of South Africa’s leading, independent

hotel groups, Premier Hotels & Resorts now offers special hotel and resort properties throughout the country, leaving an awe-inspiring mark in every province in which it lands,” the group outlines.

“We are proud to employ over 1500 passionate staff members who deliver

a superior customer experience. Guests are invited to not only experience the luxurious and modern facilities within each hotel, but to take advantage of the surroundings in which they are located.

“At Premier, on offer is genuine, caring hospitality from a world-class, proudly South African Hotel Group. We are the destination of choice offering professional, personalised, flexible hospitality and service to the discerning business and leisure market.”


South Africa is blessed with some of the most abundant and astonishing tourism hotspots the world over. Key to its seductive appeal for rafts of would-be travellers is an extensive variety of breath-taking holidays, experiences and activities throughout the year, underpinned by excellent tourist infrastructure, but arguably its crowning glory is a huge choice of accommodation in such an extensive

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range of distinctive settings.

Most of South Africa’s prime destinations are now brought to life with Premier’s commitment to providing guests with its trademark combination of unparalleled experience, friendly service and, perhaps more critically than ever, veritable value for money. Whether it is the soaring peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains, the bustling, cosmopolitan life of Gauteng or the spectacular coastlines of Cape Town and Kwa-Zulu Natal that is sought, everything is catered for, as the group succinctly abridges.

“The Premier Hotels & Resorts Group has successfully developed numerous new properties in South Africa, and has the expertise to provide you with a complete hospitality management solution.”

David Shevil, Group Head of Marketing explains how concerted and pandemic-defying efforts in recent months and years have brought about this all-encompassing coverage. “The group has grown significantly over the last two or three years, specifically during Covid, when we both bought and renovated quite a number of hotels which set us up superbly for the postpandemic environment,” he explains.

“As a result, we have a suite of revamped and new hotels to offer to the market in South Africa, including in many new areas within the country. While most hotel groups were scaling back during the worst of Covid, Premier was looking to upgrade, grow and improve its footprint.”

As Shevil reveals, what served Premier equally well as seeking new

properties during the shutdown was investing resources both financial and temporal into its existing places.

“The key for us was to ensure that, while a hotel wasn’t functioning, it was refurbished, fully cleaned and all maintenance was taken care of. It was really an opportunity for various staff to be redeployed in other areas and become integral to the upkeep and maintenance of the hotel, undertaking all the repairs that are that much harder to do when guests are in situ.”


A sod-turning, ground-breaking, ceremony in Thohoyandou, Limpopo was held in April by black female-owned construction firm African Century Group, to mark the building of the 25th hotel in the Premier armoury. Situated in the far northern part of

Limpopo Province in the Vhembe District that borders Zimbabwe, just a stone’s throw from Kruger National Park’s Punda Maria gate, Premier Hotel Thohoyandou will be a major milestone in the tourism sector and will, in turn, serve as a catalyst for the many economic developments currently planned for the region.

Drawing inspiration from its OR Tambo hotel, the 4-star development on the north-eastern edge of the town will be a modern build with a customary touch of African flair, and house 120 rooms with extensive facilities.

“A project of this magnitude is critical in creating job opportunities,” underlined Samuel Nassimov, MD of Premier Hotels & Resorts. “During the construction phase, the project will employ in the region of 480 jobs from unskilled local construction labour



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through to highly skilled artisans and project managers. When the hotel officially opens, it will also employ 85 permanent workers and some 30 to 40 contract and part-time staff.

“When we were approached by the African Century Group, we never thought twice. After listening to the vision of the owner, Mrs Tsakani Masia, we were convinced that in her, we had found a partner equal to the task. We could never have settled for a better partner than the African Century Group, and more exciting is

the fact that the group is local and is fit for a big stage such as this.”


The bounce-back from Covid has been extremely marked, Shevil confirms, with clients and travellers from all sectors returning in their multitudes to fully profit from Premier’s hard work. “Certainly locally people have begun to travel again in a big way, be it for leisure or business,” he notes.

“Corporate and government and business travelling has also

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and are wanting to travel again, and especially here in South Africa where would-be travellers are desperate to explore what it has to offer from a destination perspective. Equally, we are seeing a lot of international tourists coming back, in a lot of cases because travelling into South Africa is, comparatively, relatively cheap. Tourists tend to have a far stronger currency when they come here. This all augurs really positively for how the summer will shape up.”

properties,” he remarks. “This year has been very positive for us, in which we have exceeded our targets monthon-month, and we are now targeting a return to pre-Covid revenue as we have historically been trending very much in the right direction.

increased significantly, as people return to in-person meetings and hosting workshops and symposiums and their online alternatives are slowly phased back out.

“People are tired of being at home

Premier has been working extremely hard both behind the scenes and from a social digital perspective in order to target the broadest range of clientele, Shevil relays; Premier is very much back in business and ready to welcome one and all. “We have done a serious amount of work to publicise ourselves and get people back in our

“The management team is certainly not sitting on its hands when it comes to acquiring and sourcing new hotel opportunities,” he rounds off. “This year has been primarily about stability, which has been greatly aided by the overall influence of our acquisitions. Through further opportunities in South Africa, Africa and internationally we are now looking to expand, grow and evolve even further.”

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Architectural Visionary’s

Ambition Knows No Bounds

Elphick Proome Architecture (EPA) is a leading architectural firm with a long and distinguished history in South Africa, characterised by intelligent design solutions and exciting and innovative buildings and spaces. The company’s march across the continent and far beyond continues apace, with the likes of Kenya and Mauritius forming the base for major projects alongside groundbreaking developments much closer to its Durban home.

www.enterprise-africa.net / 61
PRODUCTION: Eleanor Sarbutt-King


//Committed to architectural excellence since its establishment in 1989, EPA has been in the business of creating exciting buildings, environments and spaces with functionality at their heart ever since. The result of a longstanding partnership between Founding Directors George Elphick and Nick Proome, talks to Enterprise Africa about the formation of the business and the roots of its success today.

“Fundamentally, I suppose, one of the major drivers was the distinct wish to no longer work for anyone else,” Elphick laughs. “We saw the opportunity for individual development and growth, on a joint basis, which initially gave rise to a practice which turns 33 this year. It was a recognition that there was opportunities at the time for young architects, and I have always maintained that if you don’t take a risk, there is never a story to tell.

“There was fairly extensive risk in having to survive a couple of years building up a practice that people would trust and employ, but since our first award of a small industrial project in Durban we have grown

into a large and renowned practice within the South African architectural professional context. We have also achieved this quickly in a relatively small city like Durban and the reduced scope for work it offers.”


A more than three-decade long legacy now sees EPA comprise a trio of dynamic and capable architectural practices, created to deliver a complete and comprehensive range of design services in the African continent and beyond. “We have gone from a very small entity to an appreciable practice which has offered a huge amount to the African architectural and development world,” Elphick esteems, with EPA’s contribution now permanently etched in the African landscape.

Reflecting on the last 12 months since Enterprise Africa last profiled the business, one central feature, notes Elphick - alongside the emergence from Covid - has been significant growth in the business opportunities emanating from outside of South Africa, as the country itself witnesses a major shrinkage.

“Our endeavour has been to strengthen our involvement in projects outside of the country,” Elphick counters, “especially in Kenya and in Mauritius, where we have a really healthy body of work. We are turning our attention to projects in West Africa, in the likes of the Gambia and Ghana, and we are thus very driven to develop our presence in these particular areas. We have a wide network to draw on and Africa remains very much a growth area for us.”

Among EPA’s keynote undertakings has been a fascinating, pioneering new project in Kenya for an international group of companies named Tatu City, a 5000-acre Special Economic Zone located 16km north of Nairobi in the Ruiru Municipality area of Kiambu County. “After a decade or so of planning, a new city has now been developed constituting the amalgamation of a number of coffee farms just outside Nairobi,” Elphick reveals.

“It is being hailed as a new ‘satellite’ city, an entirely greenfield site incorporating housing, schools, industry, retail and now offices, the very first of which we have been tasked

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George Elphick - Founding Director Nick Proome - Founding Director

with creating right in the city centre,” he informs us. “At the moment this is literally on agricultural land, a site spanning nearly 30,000m2 comprising two office buildings and potentially an art gallery. It is the scheme heralding

the start of the city development which will ultimately be a sizeable component of this satellite city.”

The incredible project is Kenya’s first operational Special Economic Zone, providing reduced corporate taxes, zero-rated VAT and import duty exemptions among other benefits, and will accommodate more than 250,000 residents and tens of thousands of day visitors. Behind Tatu City’s design is a desire to shift urban development in Kenya from the familiar single node model to a decentralised urban environment, decongesting the City of Nairobi and forging a new way of living and thinking for all Kenyans in a unique live, work and play environment.

EPA’s extensive African network has brought about more rarely-granted and unmissable openings, Elphick says. “Angola has also been an important

base in terms of the possibilities that we have been driving throughout the last seven years, despite being a notoriously difficult country in which to operate. We have recently completed the first phase of a commercial project in Talatona, which borders the capital of Luanda, consisting of two head offices - one originally for a Moroccan company, and the other for Standard Bank. A second phase will entail the addition of a hotel and a further office building, making this quite a substantial undertaking.

“This is another country that displays significant growth opportunity, in what it must be said is a challenging environment, by comparison to somewhere like Kenya. Overcoming the language barrier and getting to grips with the cultural understanding of these countries is a constantly intriguing endeavour, from

www.enterprise-africa.net / 63
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all perspectives, and that includes the culture of architecture and development that exists in those places.”


Mauritius is home to the International arm of Elphick Proome Architecture, which has paved the way for innovative,

bespoke projects in fifteen African countries that have been facilitated in collaboration with locally based architects, and all of EPA’s work taking place outside of South Africa, or the SACD, is channelled through it. The architect is among a handful of prestigious companies whose

Mauritian offices have been mandated to provide professional services for the mixed-use Precinct development, set to become Grand Baie’s most prestigious office address and due for completion before the end of 2022.

Closer to home, EPA has also been, for some time, among the key players involved in the construction of an R3.1 billion, 231,000m2 mixeduse community in Umhlanga named Oceans, comprising three towers and representing the largest private sector investment in development history in KwaZulu-Natal.

“This is a project which has taken the best part of a decade to facilitate,” Elphick says. “Umhlanga is a satellite beach town slightly north of where we are in Durban, a premier resort in the whole Southern African context. It enjoys a significant population of

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business opportunities and our abilities to translate these into finished entities for our investors and our corporate clients throughout Africa and beyond,” is his assured coding statement. “Our view is very much focussed on ensuring long-term business stability and growth out of the South African condition.

professionals which has given the area much opportunity to have enjoyed the growth it has seen over the last 25 years.

“There was a large portion of land in the centre of Umhlanga which was ripe for development,” Elphick continues of the project’s earliest days. “Our client had a clear vision of bringing together a series

“It is a very substantial project which effectively spans the heart of the town, and as such this is a truly landmark development in Durban, and of course particularly in the town of Umhlanga whose very face it will change.”

Elphick is unequivocal is his estimation of the sustainability that EPA will derive from this much bigger, more varied footprint, and the further growth it will reap for this celebrated firm. “We are highly confident and bullish - and hopeful - about our

“In the commercial space, our aim is to complete on an annual basis three or more sizeable projects. We would also like to pursue the hospitality aspect of our business and aim to finish two new hotels within the same period, all while continuing to move through Africa and further as we have been since 1997, forging many new relationships and exploring numerous and varied prospects along the way.”

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We don’t sell things you use in your home, we sell a dream you live in


Building Valuable Skills for SA Industrial Maintenance Sector

R&D Contracting is busy with numerous industrial maintenance applications across South Africa. The company specialises across multiple disciplines in the industrial maintenance sector and the management team continuously build and retain specialised skills in the South African labour force. Technical Director, David Williams talks to Enterprise Africa about the intense focus on training while growing the business nationally and into Africa.

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PRODUCTION: Eleanor Sarbutt-King


//For David Williams and Remo Torrente, Directors at R&D Contracting, the past 16 years have been a journey of learning. Establishing a contracting business in South Africa’s developing and changing compliance environments was not easy, but these experienced artisans knew that there was large opportunity for a provider with skills in an often-overlooked field.

Originally from Cape Town, Williams learned his skills from his family. His father and uncles were contractors, and they instilled a mindset of quality above all. Working with his hands became a passion. Williams later joined a corrosion maintenance company where he met Torrente who had a shared passion for hard work, good quality and updated technologies.

In 2006, Torrente and Williams partnered in their own venture expanding into the full scope of industrial maintenance. The company was quick to grow – recognised for quality and innovation around

service delivery – and expanded its range of core services. Today, R&D oversees a workforce of around 150 people, operating across the country, with services including asbestos removal, roof refurbishment, industrial coatings and protection, waterproofing, core drilling, safety lines and walkways to name a few.

Alongside a robust focus on quality and client satisfaction, R&D has always been keen on skills development, transferring knowledge to the next generation to ensure continuation and development in this corner of the South African Economy.


According to CareerJunction – a recruitment specialist – artisanal skills that were previously thought to be dying out are receiving big demand resulting in something of a resurgence for plumbers, electricians etc. But South Africa struggles to compete with overseas salaries and many young labourers migrate for stronger

packages. R&D Contracting has created an environment where vital skills can be learned, improved and compete with international developments in services, technologies and products. In this industry the difference between companies spending on machines or people lies in the level of services people can provide, especially when this is done in a competent, competitive and relevant way.

“I am a technical person and I like to go to the sites and pass on experience to site managers and supervisors,” Williams tells Enterprise Africa. “As a management team, we are very available. We do have policies and procedures that we develop and evolve continuously to ensure development is delivered effectively and in compliance with national and international standards and legislation.

“A lot of technical skills and artisan schools have fallen to the wayside. We are dealing with a generation of inexperienced labour and it is important that we identify and grow people with

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David Williams: Technical Director & Remo Torrente: Managing Director

effective training especially in a country with such inherent physical ability.”

As the company has grown, the level of expertise required in projects has also advanced and the requirement to present clients with a comprehensive solution sees staff sent to upskill regularly. Recently, the R&D team took part of a Confined Space Access development course which delivered approved safety and work procedure methodologies alongside other key industry knowledge. “Not knowing the law does not preclude one from adhering to the requirements of the law. This is where R&D rises above the run-of-the mill contracting service provider,” the company states.

It is this foundation of knowledge and emphasis on precise details that has helped R&D Contracting to deliver

quality and navigate changing and challenging environments. Since the company was founded, there has been a rollercoaster of economic peaks and troughs in South Africa, and the country’s construction industry has realised wild fluctuations in demand seeing many of the country’s construction giants fall. In 2022, the industry is expected to post good numbers, with a rebound of around 9.1%, slowing to average growth rate of 3.1% through 2023-2025. With new projects underway, and infrastructure in need of maintenance, R&D Contracting sits in a uniquely strong position due to compliance with all industry related requirements, certifications, trained and vetted workforce, and current knowledge and skills across the service offering.


“We have come through and overcome a difficult period, dealing with Covid and civil unrest and we are powering into the future with a vision to remain one of the most trusted and established contractors in our field,” Williams details.

“In our early days. we extensively painted telecommunication masts and other industrial steel applications. We work with blue-chip companies. As we grew, we saw more requirements in our industry and we added more eggs to our basket, including corrosion control, core drilling, and we found a niche in the market in asbestos. We have been an asbestos contractor for a long time. We specialise in operating for businesses that have live conveyors and production – canning, alcohol, tobacco etc. Generally, asbestos roofs must be removed or upgraded. In one instance, we changed the orientation of a roof, installed safety lines, and ensured protection of staff. We put up netting systems and we can remove an entire roof while the client remains active – that is our strong point, there is very little downtime or interruption.”

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This type of operation would not normally be possible and would often require complete site shut down to ensure safety. This is damaging to customer productivity and sales, and disrupts workflow and confidence. By allowing clients to continue working at capacity while providing essential industrial maintenance, R&D Contractors brings almost unrivalled service that has been proven and certified annually, giving peace of mind.

“Our ability to operate on plants that are operational with minimal impact on client operations is our

real difference. At the same time, complying with occupational health and safety requirements – that is our key strength,” explains Williams.

“We are 100% focussed on quality and we have quality control plans and quality contingency plans. There are daily site diaries, monthly reports, and a strong documentation to ensure our ISO accreditation –we must have a strong focus on quality to keep this accreditation. All of our documents are supplied to clients so that they have records of everything that has transpired.”

Asbestos is a strong building

material, used widely up until the 1970s. It is mostly safe if left alone, but when damaged or broken, asbestos can release fine fibres which are easy to breathe in and cause serious damage to the lungs. When removal is required, it is critical that a specialist professional is contracted as the dangers are often underestimated.

“It has been a really good product for corrosion proofing but obviously, with legislation, it is now being addressed. There are some tenants who see it is a costly exercise due to Continues on page 72


Flashings, roofing accessories, and rainwater goods are essential in any building envelope, adding the finishing touches and completing the look and feel of any structure. Of course, the function of flashings and associated accessories do not merely have an aesthetic function, but more importantly create a barrier against the weather elements. The different types of roof flashings suited to different roof structures prevent water from leaking through the roof and into the space between the roof and walls if the roof flashing is fixed against those walls.

There are four things to consider before buying roof flashings: brand, quality, price, and durability. Let’s take this one step further and include innovation. Being innovative means doing things better, faster and uniquely different from conception of the project, to the design stage, right up to the final manufactured product. Unique problem-solving solutions for any project, big or small, complements the technical expertise that is a must in any project.

A diverse range of materials are held in stock, including Zincalume, Colorbond, mild steel, galvanized steel, Chromadek, Zincal, Colorplus, G4 Colortech, Aluminium, Rheinzink, Copper, and various grades and finishes of stainless steel.

A proper roof flashing protects your roof from water damage and unnecessary wear and tear. Always ensure your flashings and roofing accessories come from a reputable source, with experience and support.

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many others,” highlights Williams.

problem, but we managed through.”

the regulatory process required and not everyone can afford professional asbestos removal,” admits Williams.

But allowing clients to continue working, and not encouraging a shutdown, is majorly advantageous and gives even those who on the fence about committing to asbestos removal the confidence that they can at least continue to produce while the process is completed safely.


The company’s work has been hailed by some of the biggest brands in South Africa.

“Currently, we are working across KZN and Gauteng on projects for leaders in industries such as platinum mining, paper manufacturing, FMCG, global tabaco giants and

Major organisations within the South African economy have all trusted R&D Contracting to complete essential and complex works at their sites.

Many clients are keen on the local knowledge that R&D Contracting brings, as well as its concentration on investment in a local supply chain, and this is something that Williams and Torrente champion as South African businessmen.

“We procure locally and we try to use as many local products and brands as possible,” says Williams. “We use high-end cordless tools and equipment to ensure safety, and sometimes we are forced to import specific items, but that is in rare circumstances. Our supply lines were affected in a big way through Covid, and when the pandemic calmed, a lot of suppliers were caught off guard, without stock. That was a

With safety as the top priority in the business, managing the pandemic while still delivering for clients was challenging but R&D Contracting was quick to act.

“It was a tough couple of years as the pandemic was combined with a steel shortage in South Africa. Covid

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from page 70

forced us to think outside the box and we put measures in place very quickly to ensure our employee’s health and safety. Staff worked from home and we are fully digital, cloud-based. Everyone has access to technology and data to communicate,” says Williams.

With a number of large projects underway right now, and more in the pipeline, R&D Contracting has bypassed the negativity of the past two years and is looking forward fervently. Williams is keen on further growth in the business, and has already identified geographies with major potential.

“Our head office is in Johannesburg but we opened a branch in Durban a few years ago where we are actively busy. We would like to grow our footprint in the Western Cape, and we have completed work across the borders in Botswana with work set to start in Zambia shortly,” he says.

“We are certainly looking at growing in the Western Cape – that

is a growing province and it has been years since any real activity has taken place on the asbestos front there. Like everything, we have to deal with competition but we believe we can make it happen.”

Of course, any growth or expansion will come alongside internal development as the company grows its expertise and always develops skills in line with the company’s ambitions for a proficient workforce.

“We are extremely active and we invest a lot of money into our labour,” he states. “We have to keep up with training and renewing qualifications for things like rope access and we have sent the team for lifeline installation – safety is a huge aspect in our industry as everything is about working at height. We have all the right people in place from quality control and quantity surveying through to stores and vehicle management.”

Longer-term, succession plans are

being readied to ensure the ongoing advancement of the business, and there is no doubt that the next generation of management will come from within, promoting the company’s strong culture and focus on quality for future clients.

“We have intentionally put a large emphasis on training and we always promote from within our ranks when possible,” concludes Williams.

This hands-on work ethic and down-to-earth attitude has been cultivated in the business for 16 years, and ensures quality above all. With this cemented into the ranks, R&D Contracting will undoubtedly be a supplier of choice across all of the disciplines in which it plays as the journey continues.

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Concord Embraces

Complete Retail Solution

A rebrand and as series of successfully completed projects sees Concord Retail Solutions cementing its position at the top of the market when it comes to refrigeration, heating cabinets, cold rooms, shopping trolleys, and a range of other retail infrastructure. Sales & Marketing Executive, Scott Messenger updates Enterprise Africa on progress for this industry leader.

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PRODUCTION: Jamie Waters


//In May 2019, Concord Refrigeration (a division of Southey Holdings) was busy working with some of the country’s leading retailers, providing refrigerated display cabinets as well as heated display cabinets.

After the pandemic, rioting, and further economic turmoil, Concord continues to grow and thrive in tough conditions as retail clients expand further, reaching every corner of South Africa.

Rebranded, now known as Concord Retail Solutions, this experienced player is servicing its market with a wider portfolio than ever before, while searching for new opportunities.

In September, a new Checkers Hyper supermarket was opened in Brookside, Pietermaritzburg, KZN. 12 months earlier, the site sat as a pile of ash, torched during civil unrest. Concord Retail Solutions provided

fridges, freezers, energy efficiency products, and a host of associated solutions, helping to bring the store back to life in what Sales & Marketing Executive Scott Messenger sees as a major triumph for both organisations.

“Checkers Hyper Brookside was iconic for us,” he says. “The store was burnt to the ground while everyone witnessed it live on TV and it became

one of the iconic memories of the KZN riots. The store reopened recently and it was an emotional day. I was there with several of our team and many from Checkers themselves, it was beautiful day. The store itself is absolutely fantastic and I will go as far to say that is one of the most beautiful supermarkets I have ever stepped inside.”

The store is described as world-class by the Shoprite Group, promising a superior shopping destination, and creating new jobs in the rejuvenation process.


Concord Retail Solutions is now more than a refrigerated display cabinet manufacturer. The new brand brings with it the all-encompassing nature of this growing business, signalling to the retail industry that Concord is a problem-solving partner who focuses on service excellence.

“We are a supermarket and retail supplier of equipment,” confirms Messenger, explaining that Concord has no intention of taking business from refrigeration partners in the industry.

“Some of our competitors take a strategy of being a one-stop-shop, manufacturing the fridges as well as the refrigeration plant that sits on the outside of the supermarket, while also installing. We find that this alienates a big and important part of the industry who are reliant on installing and procuring refrigeration equipment for supermarkets and other end users.”

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The new name also allows the company to deepen its involvement. Adding cold rooms to its portfolio, as well shelving and shopping trolleys, and a new energy efficient imported freezer range which has been warmly welcomed by the market.

“We are now specialising in Retail Cold Rooms, which are essentially cold storage in the receiving areas for supermarkets as well larger display “boxes” for cooldrinks and also

and freezers from us also order shelving and trolleys from various manufacturers. We are in discussions with a supplier of incredibly high-quality add-ons that could be fantastic complimentary products to Concord Retail Solutions.”

Energy efficiency is also a vital offering from Concord which installs traditionally power-hungry equipment. New technology is allowing the company to offer is clients reductions as they invest for the long-term.

and will take the place of the open top freezers, holding temperature for longer. We often face loadshedding and these freezers help the retailers tremendously as they keep products frozen for longer. Load shedding can often still last for more than two hours and this provides real assistance to the retailer,” details Messenger.


In 2019, a new manufacturing system

in mid-2019 and it is a lot greener. We were given funding by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get this off the ground. They helped with the purchase because of the nature of the polyurethane equipment versus what was there previously. We were grateful for that, and every tub we make is much more environmentally friendly.”

He highlights the importance of embracing a global shift towards CO2 as a dominant refrigerant gas, saying

that CO2 is a cheap refrigerant which is widely available and easy obtain.

“CO2 is also a completely green refrigerant that has zero ozone depleting potential and a global warming potential of one. The effects on the environment with CO2 are significant compared to traditional gases.

“It is a balancing act, but it is starting to become more important for people to do what is right for the environment as far as possible. From a refrigerant gas point of view, there is a huge drive worldwide to go away from old gases and move towards CO2. South Africa is pushing hard in this space and many retailers are pushing for this. Many of our customers are now looking for CO2 installations, despite the cost. The challenge is that there is not a high level of technical expertise in South Africa just yet. Some retailers are reluctant to do it and prefer to wait until others have taken the first steps and then follow when the industry expertise is in place.”


As competition in the retail space in South Africa continues unabated, Messenger is confident about the company’s future pipeline, describing the nature of store development as “crazy”. With each new store comes opportunity, and the brands continue to push.

Checkers Foods is set to boom, QualiSave from Pick n Pay is exciting, and more companies are looking at how they can increase their footprints.

“Checkers Foods is a higher spec and everything to do with the store is aimed at the higher end of the market. Woolworths leads the way in SA in terms of quality perception and store design traditionally, but Checkers is now getting the competition worried with their new concept. The first Checkers Foods was opened in Franschhoek and the second in Ballito, and we fitted out that store. There are plans for more before the end of the year,” says Messenger.

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Smaller format, with customer needs at front of mind, these stores present major opportunities for Concord Retail Solutions as fast, fresh food offerings are prioritised.

“The store development market in South Africa is extremely strong. Shoprite Checkers is one of the main drivers, and Pick n Pay are also upgrading a lot of their stores and opening new stores. Pick n Pay has recently launched their QualiSave brand, and the competition between the big

businesses is fierce. The rural areas is where the significant growth is coming from as they all compete for coverage.”

Able to service all of southern Africa from its home north of Durban, Concord’s expansion of the team has been required to satisfy a booming market.

“We more than doubled our sales team over last 12 months. Our finance department has also grown. Our factory has been working strongly, and from a sales point of view our growth is tremendously exciting,” smiles Messenger, adding that the company is always looking at opportunities across the borders to grow on the continent.

“We have identified people and agents who can help drive growth for us in Africa and this is something we feel all our competitors are looking into. Africa can be tough but there remains

so much opportunity there to tap into.”

Designed and manufactured to international standards, greener than ever, quality focussed, proudly South African, and always innovating, Concord Retail Solutions continues to support clients, as it has for more than 50 years, with the very best product and service available.

The company’s mantra - where superior robust design meets service excellence – is a true reflection of an organisation that is ambitious to be better and be more. “We are delighted with how things are going and excited about our future,” concludes Messenger.;

Johann Kotzé, CEO

Positive Influence for Sustainable SA Industry

The agricultural industry in South Africa requires positive leadership, and the South African Pork Producers Organisation provides powerful influence across the sector. Training, educating, promoting, and marketing all things pork, SAPPO and CEO Johann Kotzé remain buoyant about operations with much in the pipeline for expansion.

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PRODUCTION: Eleanor Sarbutt-King


//“Only 8-10% of total animal consumption in South Africa is pork,” admits Johann Kotzé, CEO of the South African Pork Producers Organisation (SAPPO). It’s small compared to chicken which is about 60%, he says. “But we believe we play a major role in leadership. We do not believe leadership is determined by the size of the industry but rather by the influence that you have, and we view ourselves as great influencers in the agricultural space.”

SAPPO is the national association responsible for facilitating a sustainable and profitable pork industry through the provision of various initiatives around training and development, marketing, standard implementation, and welfare.

Representing around 500 producers

as well as industry stakeholders, SAPPO is at the heart of the country’s agricultural sector, innovating and inspiring to bring together key players from farmers and suppliers to abattoirs and processors and retailers. The organisation is also connected into the international industry and national and provincial government to ensure the most up to date information is available for all stakeholders. Through different arms (SA Pork, Pork 360, World of Pork), SAPPO reaches produces, retailers, and consumers and is at the forefront of the sector’s problem-solving effort.


For Kotzé, the pork industry has much to offer, even in challenging economic conditions. The meat itself is rich in protein, niacin, vitamins,

iron, and zinc. It is also less fatty and calorific than beef. Pigs are quick to grow and easy to manage, they are mostly friendly animals that are quick to reproduce. And they require less land than other animals.

A key offering from SAPPO is education and upskilling as the sector has become inaccessible as a result of significant barriers to entry. With so much to offer, it is now important for young farmers to join the industry and build on the promise that already exists.

“The barrier to entry around commercial pig farming is extremely high because of the cost. It would cost R100,000-120,000 per sow when starting a greenfield project,” details Kotzé. “For an entry level farmer, you’re looking at around R15 million for 500 sows. Capital-wise, it’s a major barrier

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for commercial scale. You can, of course, start with five or 10 sows and grow from there but your production method will be different and you will be more exposed to economic risk, virus risk, and biosecurity risk.”

To address this, SAPPO is working from the ground up, nurturing the next generation of farmers, exposing them to the industry from a young age and demonstrating what is possible and how it can be achieved.

“We have adopted schools into our mentorship programme and that helps drive awareness around zoonotic diseases, hygiene, and biosecurity among young people,” says Kotzé. “It is the basics about the industry and that is vital for the future of the industry. We travel to primary or agricultural schools and we give training so that

they have the correct curriculum and knowledge. The schools programme is exciting as it is an area in which we have never focussed. Previously, we have only communicated with young people who have left school and entered

farming. This is below that and we want to influence kids at primary and high school level so they understand what pig farming is actually about.”

Here, SAPPO is uniquely qualified to deliver knowledge. Established in

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the early 80s as a government function, pricing and information was entirely controlled by the state. Post 94, SAPPO moved to a provincial structure and was no longer embedded in government. It was a voluntary system, but in 2016 it cut to what is recognised today with all provincial organisations amalgamated, operating as a non-profit association with a statutory levy. From 2017, a levy has been paid for every single pig slaughtered in an abattoir or commercial slaughterhouse with the money collected and transferred to SAPPO, governed by the National Agricultural Marketing Council.


The money raised through the industry levy is distributed across various functions, all designed around upliftment of the industry, says Kotzé.

“Firstly, it’s for consumer assurance – vet and national animal health

programmes and negotiations with government on exports around health. Secondly, consumer education and communications is about promoting pork – we don’t sell pork but we do promote the category through different channels. Third is business intelligence – a big focus for us – looking after all the data that comes from farmers around the country. We package and distribute that data for the benefit of the industry.

“Fourth is business development where we look to expand the industry locally though mentorship programmes,

training, skills development, and other schemes. Each province has a business development manager to assist here. Lastly, we have a corporate governance department where we are busy looking into sustainability of the pork industry in South Africa, developing a framework to make sure adhere to principles and embed that into the industry.”

Currently, there are major hurdles for many businesses, and agriculture is not removed from a challenging economic environment. Sluggish or no growth in national GDP, inflationary

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pressure, political uncertainty, global macro issues including the war in Ukraine, and the lingering impact of the pandemic all contribute to a hesitant business landscape.

This is where education from SAPPO plays a major role, preparing farmers for market shocks and offering teachings around business management alongside farming principles.

“We do a lot of online training for small scale farmers and we also provide training for employees of farms. We have a lot of training and skills development available at the base of the pyramid and we work upwards,” Kotzé enthuses.

“We had a site where we would provide onsite training but we had to abandon that scheme because of South African Swine Fever. It was a small unit on the site of a much larger farm and we could train people onsite through a programme around the basic intro to pig farming. We had to restructure that programme as SAPPO Academy and take people through an online training programme instead. It is very immersive and gives all of the same information across 11 modules. We are accredited with AgriSETA and we are busy rolling that out now.”

African Swine Fever (ASF) is a contagious disease which can cause sudden death in pigs, decimating income for small scale farmers and knocking confidence of farming communities. Recent outbreaks have been unwelcome for farmers who are already under pressure from wider, macro-economic issues.

For SAPPO, distribution and sharing of knowledge around biosecurity, as well as providing assurances from animal health professionals, is an essential part of its core purpose.

“Urbanisation plays a major role in our industry, specifically for informal and small-scale farmers. A lot of people are moving to urban and peri urban areas around the cities. Pigs play a major role in the functionality of communities, and this caused a problem around

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the outbreak of various diseases. Biosecurity in these communities is not strict and does not always protect animals against the outbreak of certain diseases. From where we were 10 years ago around major outbreaks of disease to where we are today, it is a totally different concept,” Kotzé says of the success of SAPPO’s outreach.

“Commercial farmers were impacted as biosecurity became a concept of great significance. Large scale farmers went very strict on biosecurity and that is the right way to go to protect yourself. Urbanisation of South Africa has played a major role in the behaviour of farmers as the movement of people created a pathway for diseases to travel,” he adds of the industry’s change over the years.


To ensure the organisation stays apace with change and advancement, while continuing to distribute useful

information to all stakeholders, SAPPO has invested in new digital resources to enable meaningful discussions in an online environment. Zach and Suzy – digital brand champions of SAPPO and pork in general - are already busy learning and helping to share helpful tips to keep people informed.

“There are thousands of smallscale farmers in South Africa who are informal and not connected – not with government, not with SAPPO, and not with an abattoir,” says Kotzé. “We created a digital character called Zach, and he does social listening on what is online in the pork industry. We then pick up on hot topics and problems in pig farming. For example, Zach might pick up on a discussion about why it is important to give piglets iron. We then create some information around the answers to that question and Zach can post and share. Zach has a good impact in the informal sector and that is very helpful. This material teaches

and delivers the basis around animal health for pigs. The highest risk for the sector in South Africa is informal farmers without access to a vet.

Through training, we believe we can communicate and offer sound advice.

“On the consumer side, we have a digital character called Suzy,” he explains. “She is like Zach, listening to discussions on social media but on the consumer side. She will bring facts and dispel myths about pork and related topics online. She delivers recipes and shows people the beauty of pork. It is all about servicing a communication gap across certain LSMs.”

SAPPO also recently launched its SELEKT platform on YouTube, to deliver content that will assist in bringing the farmer and consumer closer together. Many do not understand the processes involved in modern farming or even the type of people that are producing food on the shelves. New short videos will bring new

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information to ensure the industry becomes transparent at all levels.

“We communicate well with all stakeholders, and they understand

the value of what we create from the statutory levy. We do a lot of awareness campaigns and we are heavily focussed on communicating with shareholders. The consumer awareness comes from SA Pork which is focused on the beauty of meat as a product,” says Kotzé.

In the future, with more knowledge available thanks to SAPPO’s promotions, the CEO is hoping for a united front when it comes to biosecurity and animal welfare.

“The industry must be cohesive in the methods we use to combat disease. The disease does not understand poverty or wealth. We must look to how we can protect ourselves as an entire industry against viruses and the methodology of the virus. If we can get to a level where everyone, including the smallest of the small, understands at a granular level about how to uplift the whole health status

of South Africa’s animals then we will have done well,” smiles Kotzé.

The influence of SAPPO is its key strength and, as the sector advances, even through the most difficult of times, this is an organisation that will be there to support, not for profit, but for the health and welfare of the entire industry. Kotzé is confident that SAPPO is working with some of the best.

“The value chain is simplistic, but we are highly dependent on everyone in the chain. The smallest disruption can upset the entire chain substantially. That is why we are thankful to have great companies in this space,” he concludes.

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Adding Sustainable Goodness to Every Meal

Nutritious and delicious, of course, but also full of antioxidants and selenium, brilliant for heart health and crammed with phytochemicals found to suppress breast and prostate cancer, it is no wonder that mushrooms are rarely off the menu today in South Africa. Denny has been the country’s household name expert grower for over 40 years and across its three industry-leading farms, bringing the inimitable goodness to consumers across the country.

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PRODUCTION: Jamie Waters


“Denny is the mushroom expert, and we are passionate about what we do,” neatly summates the mushroom monolith. This much is undeniable: its three hi-tech farms in Cape Town, KwaZuluNatal and Gauteng produce half of the total mushroom consumption in South Africa, lovingly tended under perfect conditions and hand-picked to bring all the goodness of this vital vegetable to every South African.

Each of these facilities has a sales team servicing its regional market, with proximity to customers vital to ensuring that the company constantly delivers what has come to be termed: ‘Denny freshness’. “For more than 70 years, Denny has been a proudly South African household name, and today is the number one producer and supplier of fresh mushrooms in the

country. When it comes to all things mushroom, our extensive range of products has you covered. From fresh white, brown, and exotic mushrooms to

convenient meal solutions, we do it all.

“Because of the carefully controlled quality and perfect freshness of its products over the years, Denny has

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become the leading producer of fresh mushrooms in South Africa,” the company says, supplier of every second mushroom eaten in the country. “The word ‘mushroom’ is rarely spoken without being followed by ‘Denny’.”


While synonymous with mushrooms, it is not Denny’s sole focus; a wide range of related food products and condiments have also been lovingly developed over its many years in business. These range from cook-in and pasta sauces to soups and snacks, all bearing the famed quality and freshness which defines the celebrated brand and its ubiquitous blue punnets.

“Thanks to its strong consumer focus and innovative culture, Denny is synonymous with freshness and flavour, and is respected for the reliability of its service and the high quality of its products,” agrees owner Libstar. “Keeping it fresh with the any-time crowd-pleaser in the breakfast, lunch and supper game, Denny is the first mushroom brand every South African thinks of.”

Libstar boasts its own proud legacy, one honed over many years of working with a range of homegrown companies consistently making the most trusted and loved products,

and bringing them to South Africa’s shops and dining-room tables. Denny is one of a select few well-recognised brands in South Africa produced by the group and marketed and sold under labels and trademarks that are proprietary to Libstar, or produced, supplied and marketed under licence agreements with the brand owner.

“The Libstar family is motivated to create, work and achieve success through its purpose as a family: enriching people’s daily lives,” summates the group. “Every home and every family strives to uphold a set of values. These values are what we all believe in and try to exemplify throughout our daily lives, to keep us all moving forward with purpose and on the right track.

“Through their world-class manufacturing capabilities, the Libstar

family of companies also offers services to some of the most recognised and revered household-name brands and leading companies in the food-service industry in South Africa. It’s not just our own family that places immense trust in our qualities, but also those who form part of our wider circle.”


Denny is known as leader in sustainability in South Africa, a status which drives it to continually work to improve its processes and make them even kinder to the environment. 100% compostable mushroom punnets have been the standard for coming up to three years now, a first among mushroom suppliers in the country and offering a massive boost for sustainable practices aimed at protecting the planet and promoting healthy living.

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“Our fully compostable punnet gives us the opportunity to lead the way and do what is right for the environment,” said Denny at the time of the launch. “This initiative supports the wholesome nature of our product and Denny is incredibly proud to be pioneering new ground.” Adding environmentally responsible packaging as an alternative for consumers further reduces the

impact of Denny’s processes on the environment, operations which Managing Executive Gerbrandt Rust said already represent a unique blend of recycling, science and efficacy.

“The mushroom cycle is a very sustainable one,” he revealed, as the company draws ever closer to its brand vision of a 360° Health Cycle for the future. “It allows us to remove all the waste produced on farms in wheat

and maize production, and take this to then form part of the substrate we make in order to feed and grow our mushrooms. Afterwards, this is then ploughed back into the lands, creating a very sustainable and integrated cycle of which we are very proud.

“Denny doesn’t just add goodness to every meal. We make sure our mushrooms are farmed using responsible, sustainable methods.

“Over the past two or three years we have also really focused on utilising every single piece of fibre that we produce on our farms, and we also prefer to consider the top retailers who we supply as our partners, rather than just our clients, to build a sustainable future together with us for the mushroom category in South Africa.”

It is a drive which has brought

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about the introduction of many new product offshoots for Denny in recent years, but perhaps most concerted have been the efforts surrounding mushrooms as a meat alternative. It is no secret that mushrooms are one of the best vegetarian substitutes for meat - naturally chewy, they crisp up beautifully and readily absorb sauce. In addition to taste and texture, mushrooms are also an environmentally-friendly swap and they’re generally cheaper compared to their meat counterparts. “Substituting

mushrooms for meat can assist in the reduction of meat intake and calories, without sacrificing flavour or nutrients,” Denny corroborates.

Mushrooms are, too, brimming with antioxidants, vitamins and essential minerals such as potassium and selenium, particularly beneficial to men wanting to tackle high health risks such as obesity, heart attacks and prostate cancer. Portabellini mushrooms and white button mushrooms are, meanwhile, especially rich in selenium, an essential mineral

key to tissue respiration, as well as containing phytochemicals that are found to specifically suppress breast and prostate cancer.

“The humble mushroom is so much more than an agent of flavour - this is a versatile vegetable packed full of natural goodness and proof that good things grow in the dark,” Denny rounds off of this true contemporary super food. “From farm to table, we take pride in every step of the journey, and continuously invest in infrastructure to ensure quality products and service to our customers and an ingredient which people can trust for all occasions.”

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Building for the Next 120 Years

This year, Shell South Africa is reflecting on its 120 years in the country, a heritage equally resplendent with history, trials and triumphs. Constantly innovating to shape the world’s energy future and boasting a retail network of strategically located service stations to serve the nation, Shell’s approach to transformation is also changing lives, giving hope and creating possibilities.

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of Ambition, Collaboration and Advancement


//Shell has served South Africans since 1902, one of the largest international energy companies in the country with an enormous national footprint of service stations catering for a full suite of customer profiles. Still occupying a core position as a premier supplier of the country’s energy, originally, Shell South Africa’s focus was on supplying light and heat across the territory with paraffin and kerosene.

Time has brought growth and evolution for the company, and the need to frequently and intuitively adapt its products and services to meet the needs of the country, but constant and unwavering through the years has been Shell South Africa’s fierce commitment to economic development and meaningful transformation.

“Throughout its long association with South Africa, Shell has played an important role not only as a premier oil company but also as a corporate citizen

and change agent,” the company begins. “We are proud to be part of South Africa’s heritage, and proud of what unites us and makes us who we are.”


Shell Group is a colossus in the international oil and gas industry, and Shell South Africa shares the internationally-renowned group of energy and petrochemical companies’ aims to meet the energy needs of society in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally viable, now and in the future.

“At Shell, we share a set of core values - honesty, integrity and respect for people - which underpin all the work we do,” Shell South Africa

elaborates. “Our strategy seeks to reinforce our position as a leader in the oil and gas industry, while helping to meet global energy demand in a responsible way. Safety and environmental and social responsibility are at the heart of our activities.

“We are a global group of energy and petrochemicals companies with an average of 93,000 employees in more than 70 countries, using advanced technologies and taking an innovative approach to help build a sustainable energy future.”

Shell’s operations in the South African market cover fuel retailing, aviation, marine, commercial fuels and


2004 marked the introduction of the Steers® brand to the Shell network with the conversion of the Whistle Stop Restaurants to Steers® Restaurants. The rollout of the Steers® brand in the Shell network has proven to be a recipe for success with a current total of 43 Steers® restaurants across the Shell Network.

In order to Feed The Flame by delivering exceptional Steers experiences and products the Steers® brand, Steers® continues to evolve within the Shell network. This continual growth has seen Steers® establish an enviable presence in no less than 29 of the 31 Ultra City sites.

The relationship that Steers® enjoys with Shell is a consumer obsessed business model that complements each partner by creating a convenient environment for our consumers at any one of our online platforms, Transient or Drive - Thru Steers® restaurants, we always work together to ensure our customers enjoy a great Steers products and customer experience.

The Steers® value offerings and wide variety of fresh, quality food offered on the Steers® menu, gives our partnership a strong competitive advantage. The joint marketing initiatives have seen innovative additions to the menu with items such as the “V Power Burger” exclusive to Shell Steers® sites over holiday periods.

Shell has been proactive in the driving of non-fuel offers, to complement their forecourt services. Keeping Steers® up to date with technological advancements creates a trade environment that remains appealing to our consumers, as well as improving customer experience to all age groups. Steers®’ strong online presence also ensures that Steers® keeps in touch with our consumers and creates an environment where our consumers are confident that they are part of our journey. We’ve built REAL strong connections and will continue to grow from strength to strength by delivering 100% Real experiences and flame-grilled perfection.

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on page 98


bitumen, and liquefied petroleum gas, alongside the Durban-based SAPREF refinery and duo of lubricant blending facilities in Durban and Gauteng. Shell South Africa’s more than 750 retail service stations also combine to give it a market share of close to 20%, and it is now embarking on a bid to become the nation’s favourite forecourt retailer, “by building a network that is representative of who we are,” the company explains.

“We put the service back into service station, ensuring you always leave us a little happier than when you arrived.” To this end, on top of a unique range of fuels and technological expertise Shell Select

offers 24 hours, seven days a week shopping convenience for bakery and freshly-made goods as well as standard grocery items from leading brands, in order to guarantee the provision of quality products.

Designed to inspire an even more comfortable and memorable journey for the motorist, Shell Ultra City destinations are quickly becoming the stopover of choice for the discerning motorist, with 31 sites currently located throughout South Africa. “Shell Ultra City is passionate about good service and ensuring that all motorists no matter your age or reason for travel are catered for,” the company asserts, and alongside massive fuelling bases and shopping, bathroom and banking



facilities 29 of this number now have Steers Diner Restaurants on site.

“These have been allocated strategically along the main routes around the country, from the Northern Region to the Southern Tip in the Western Cape Region,” Shell explains.

“Steers Diner Restaurants are there to make the motorist’s journey an experience to remember.”

A landmark partnership also means that the PharmaShop24 Concept and Design, found all over Europe, Japan and USA, is now available in South Africa. “Pharmashop24 offers a market leading pharmaceutical vending machine into the forecourt shopping experience,” Shell expands, “with machines that are tamper-proof and temperature controlled ensuring quality products are dispensed every time.”


Through the Retailer Transformation initiative, Shell South Africa has allowed numerous beneficiaries, some of whom have been part of the Shell SA family for

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from page 96

decades having risen right through the ranks, to themselves become owners of service stations. As with most franchises, money to make a purchase is required alongside the determination to make a substantial financial investment work. Unlike others, Shell, as part of its commitment to broadening franchise ownership, has taken an approach designed to facilitate purchases and the appointment of retailers.

“At Shell SA, we see ourselves as partners to those on whom our business depends,” the company proudly states. “Therefore, we believe we have an essential role to play in helping them realise their goals and ambitions.” As such, Shell does not stipulate the minimum amount required for an individual to contribute towards a franchise purchase, relying instead on assessing skills, experience and the presentation of a thorough business plan.

“We play a big role in terms of enterprise development, developing

entrepreneurs and developing the communities in which we do business,” summarises Hloniphizwe Mtolo, Shell SA Country Chair and Retail GM. “How we involve these communities in our activities is of great importance to us. People are essential to the successful delivery of the Shell strategy and also to sustaining our long-term business performance. Station to Nation, for us is our interpretation of transformation.”

Besides its business history, Shell South Africa is active in promoting equality within its ranks, and is an acknowledged agent for change in the business sector. The process of what it terms ‘nation-building’ through transformation is a strategic priority, and working toward a more inclusive future forms an essential part of the organisation’s DNA.

“Nation-building is about enabling our society to progress,” the company says. “As change occurs, it will drive us to innovate and create new methods and the more embedded


it becomes in our daily activities, the more we contribute positively to our nation’s future.” As it celebrates every element of its hard-won 120 years of changing business and people’s lives and creating possibilities in South Africa, it is crucial that it remains this forward-thinking simultaneously in order to secure the next 120.

“Our purpose is to power progress through more and cleaner energy solutions,” Shell closes, “and whether uniting South African families in the early 1900s by providing power and warmth in their communities or mining towns, or connecting national travel routes with revolutionary refuelling stations, Shell’s shared vision is for a nation united by ambition, collaboration, and advancement.”

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Astute Affiliations

Help Agile Avis Lead the Way

Originally established in 1946 in Detroit by Warren Avis, for 50 years now Avis has been a leading light in the South African car rental market, and under the ownership of industry giant Barloworld since 2005. Having consummately navigated and adapted to Covid conditions, Avis continues to expertly balance the nurturing of internal and external partnerships to remain the innovative leader in an increasingly crowded space.

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PRODUCTION: Tommy Atkinson


//“Avis is a trusted and awardwinning brand with a long history of innovation in the car rental industry,” the company opens of the business originally born of Warren Avis’s realisation in 1946 of a rapidly growing need of people to be transported from airports to various destinations. “We are one of the world’s top brands for customer loyalty, with a commitment to true convenience and exceptional service.”

With Zeda Car Rental and Tours set up in Bloemfontein in 1967, shortly afterwards Federale Volksbeleggings Bpk, the Sanlam subsidiary, acquired a majority shareholding in the company, later entering into a joint venture with Avis Rent A Car and adopting the Avis name. Thus followed consistent steady growth for the business, and by 1972 the car rental side had expanded to encompass Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

By the 1980s the company had

established a countrywide footprint and grown beyond the borders into Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland and administered sublicensees in Angola, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In 1997 Avis Southern Africa was listed on the Johannesburg, Namibian and Botswana Stock Exchanges, acquired in full by

industrial brand management company Barloworld in 2005 and proudly a division thereof ever since.


Avis car hire locations now punctuate the entire country, at all major airports, in city centres and a number of larger towns, fully maximising South Africa’s enviable combination

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of stunning landscapes and an equally wide choice of vehicles. “We have a long history of providing the highest service levels in the industry with a global branch network,” Avis effuses. “We serve all South African towns through an extensive car hire network with over 130 locations.

“Multicultural, multilingual and with a multitude of natural wonders, South Africa is the Rainbow Nation in more ways than one and we allow you to create your own safari and explore it all with the comfort and freedom of Avis car hire.”

It is fair to say that Avis South Africa should have been among those most catastrophically hit as the pandemic took hold, as the wholesale closure of airports under lockdown spelt a temporary complete cessation of business and the sudden severance of a crucial sector for the brand. Then-newly appointed CEO Ramasela Ganda last year described the feeling within the wider Barloworld Group of having been at the ‘epicentre’ of the situation, as all ports of entry slammed shut with around 60% of the company’s business rooted in tourism.

While it would still be reductive, and not entirely accurate, to say that Avis swerved entirely the Covid tumult, a combination of Ganda’s deep business leader experience and Avis’s customary innovation and agility saw the company act decisively to deploy its vast, yet dormant fleet in a host of other ways and divert down avenues more apposite to the situation.

“There was a lot I had to do very quickly, but it did provide

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opportunities,” Ganda relayed, with the announcement of national lockdown having come with him just four days into her new post. “As Avis, we reacted really fast, so that by the time that most people realised there was a new normal we were very much ahead. The agility we have really helped us to keep going during the tough times and puts us in a very good position.”

Not only availing of its vehicles to deliver groceries and other essential items, as well as liquor, Avis was also forced to constantly react to the changing market and adapt its offering to consumer behaviour and budget changes.


With international travel having returned in exactly the buoyant way that Ganda predicted midway through last year, the famed Avis agility and willingness to constantly break new ground has seen it partner

with Emirates as the preferred service provider for complimentary Chauffeur Drive airport transfers for its first and business class customers travelling to any of the airline’s three gateways in South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

“Avis has an exceptional and established track record of providing safe and convenient chauffeur driven services to all its customers,” commented Rebone Motsatsi, Executive: Car Rental Operations. “Building on this track record, the business deployed its world class systems to ensure that the partnership with Emirates is one that will exceed customer expectations.”

This is the latest in a series of partnerships which have helped to keep Avis in pole position for so long. Airline partners are some of the titans of the industry, including British Airways, Lufthansa and KLM, while a range of banking affiliates such as American Express, eBucks and Absa Rewards open up superb car hire discounts and rewards to members and fans; these affiliations remain critical to Avis’s continued dominance, even more so as the Woodford Group announces a partnership with Enterprise Holdings to make the company’s services available in South Africa for the first time.

Avis is also associated with

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Advancing Tourism to Africa (ATTA) and Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), contributing to the transformation of the tourism industry, while last year, Avis Budget Car Rental teamed up with FlexClub to launch month-to-month car subscriptions

for customers shopping online for a car, resulting in hundreds of members across South Africa. Now, the two have partnered again to allow consumers to rent cars on longerterm subscriptions from Avis Fleet.

It comes in response to rising demand for a service offering that rivals traditional vehicle financing, according to Avis, as demand for subscriptions on flexible contracts running month-to-month increased sharply in 2021. Initially available to consumers in Johannesburg and Pretoria, Avis foresees nationwide rollout of the programme set to, “fill a gap left by the low penetration of private leasing in South Africa.”

While external partnerships are of undeniable importance, at Avis there is also a fierce, unending commitment to the power of the internal relationships it nurtures, closely working with its own people to train, develop, lead

and reward the best talent recruited for this service- and customer-centric business. “While all the cars, locations and systems we use obviously help, it is ultimately the people - our Brand Ambassadors - that will either make the experience a great one, or a mediocre one, for our customers,” Avis concludes.

“Our people have the power to enhance or destroy the value of our brand, and the connection and alignment that they have with it and all it stands for is very clear and strong. We focus on the development of each Brand Ambassador to improve their skills and abilities for personal growth and service excellence and, ultimately, grow our own leaders.”

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Making Water Solutions an Art Form

Since 1989 Talbot’s expertise in the provision of sustainable water and wastewater solutions has helped clients across Africa to understand and mitigate their water risks, effect water-related savings, and enhance business sustainability. Its services are constantly deployed in vital applications, including state-of-the-art water treatment solutions for the mining sector.

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PRODUCTION: Tommy Atkinson

//Amid increasing pressure on water resources and a global rise in supply-risk and cost of total water management, Talbot’s more than 30 years’ experience and delivery of in excess of 300 projects in over 20 countries in Africa, Australia and Eastern Europe brings the assurance of insight, innovation and

quality. “We integrate expertise from engineers, scientists and technicians, to deliver a range of innovative, yet robust solutions across a broad range of industries,” the company says.

From the analysis and assessment of water use to the design, implementation, construction and management of bespoke solutions. Talbot is committed to leading the way in shoring up supply of this vital commodity while drastically reducing the cost of total water management. “We are committed to providing practical sustainable solutions to address the water-related challenges faced by our clients,” Talbot affirms.


Talbot’s suite of capabilities is made possible by the confluence of a number of integrated, complementary services including data and analytics, strategic and operational water advice across industry sectors clients, as well as

the design and turnkey construction of water, wastewater treatment and water recovery facilities for blue chip clients across the continent.

Further support is provided to clients through the provision of total water management and optimisation services, encompassing water, wastewater and water recovery across the full production cycle. Talbot’s commercial environmental laboratory offers a full range of microbiological, organic and inorganic environmental analytical services having established itself as one of Africa’s premier environmental laboratories.

Last year, it was the combination of Talbot’s individual elements that CEO Carl Haycock highlighting as hugely significant in giving it the edge. “Most sustainability companies don’t have the same level of access to data and deep technical knowledge that is built into our strategies,” he stressed. “We have the strategic and technical teams integrated into the strategy, and then the data feeding into that. Having this in one company enables us to identify and provide deep support in delivering strategic opportunities for our clients.”

With focus sectors such as FMCG, food and beverage, agriprocessing, industrial, and mining, Talbot offers everything from strategic consulting, technical assessments and feasibility studies to plant design and build services, operational support and environmental laboratory services.

Talbot’s in-depth knowledge and broad capabilities were called upon in July for vital testing, as the aftereffects of April’s severe flooding and landslides continued to be felt. Warnings were issued by the eThekwini Municipality, and Talbot itself, that beaches and some rivers along the Durban coastline were unsafe to use.

After the city’s wastewater treatment facility and sanitation infrastructure were damaged during



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the floods there have been reports of high levels of E. coli, a form of bacteria that travels through a person’s digestive tract and then releases toxins into the body.

Talbot GM Micole Martens relayed how the organisation had been collecting samples from the main beaches in Durban and rivers such as the Umgeni, Umdloti and the Duzi, ever since the catastrophe which claimed 400 lives. “We are doing weekly tests in the eThekwini beaches and a few rivers around KZN,” she said. “E. coli is one of the indicators that determines if there is faecal or sewage contamination, and if there are high levels, it can result in increased pathogens in the water,

which can result in illnesses. We have been finding spikes in E. coli. The rivers are normally high, but there have been spikes in the eThekwini beaches.”


Talbot has been a long-time ally to the mining industry, notably in recent years helping companies enhance the sustainable management of their water resources. The implementation of big data analytics and internet of things (IoT) technologies has been critical in reducing their consumption, increasing water reuse and improving environmental compliance across various aspects of the value chain.

“Data is the resource of the digital age and gives miners and minerals processors an opportunity

to overcome their water challenges,” assessed Talbot smart water engineer and data scientist Sashnee Naicker.

Now, Talbot is working with several major mining companies to demonstrate the efficacy of a different type of technology. Vibratory sheer enhanced process (VSEP) developments have the ability to effectively treat highly contaminated and difficult wastewater streams, and recover highvalue resources currently consigned to waste, treating waters that other technologies simply cannot.

“With tightening legislation in the management, containment and disposal of brine, we continually seek out innovative, robust solutions that offer effective waste management to our clients,” says Talbot technical

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manager Claire Lipsett. “Ironically, VSEP is often the last option for companies that have tried conventional methods and found that their waste streams are just too dirty,” Lipsett continued. “Miners and precious metals refineries facing the prospect of operating or investing in large, high-capex multi-stage wastewater treatment systems now have a far more cost-effective solution with VSEP, which can achieve in one stage what traditional solutions would typically accomplish in five or six.”

With mines under increasing pressure to manage their water impacts, with regard both abstraction in severely water-stressed regions and impact on groundwater qualities, VSEP holds enormous potential to assist with the production of potable water for communities in remote locations.

“We see positive commitment to water reuse targets which are crucial to the availability of water to growing communities,” Haycock confirmed.

“We regard this renewed focus on compliance as a niche market opportunity, and an opening for us to put our in-depth experience in water treatment to use.” By commissioning a water treatment plant Talbot has enabled one of its clients in the sector to take a step towards water independence while significantly reducing its expenditure on municipal supplies, recovering water pumped from underground workings that

would otherwise be wasted.

The containerised reverse osmosis plant at a site on the Witwatersrand goldfields will treat water abstracted through the mine’s dewatering programme. “This treated water will enable a significant step towards water independence by replacing expensive potable supplies,” revealed Talbot Technical Director Grahame Thompson. “At the same time, it will alleviate some of the burden on the already stressed supply system while enhancing the operation’s ESG reputation.

“The client’s ultimate aim is to become self-sufficient in respect of its water needs by investigating and developing other opportunities, one of them being the utilisation of alternative sources; this project will

reduce its dependence on regional water supplies by as much as 30%.”

Proven water recovery technologies available across multiple applications are critical in South Africa, and Talbot continues to deliver on the aspirations that Haycock described are driving its expert climate and populationbased strategies to water risks.

“As a business we are ambitious,” he summed up, “and we have the team in place to allow Talbot to become be the leading provider of sustainable water and wastewater solutions across the African continent.”

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Specialist in All Things Hosting in South Africa

Famously and proudly established even before giants like YouTube, Facebook and the iPhone, 1-grid took its first customer’s business online some 25 years ago but, the company is quick to stress, this doesn’t make it old, only experienced. “We move with the times and over a quarter of a century years in the industry has given us the knowledge to understand exactly what our customers need today.”

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PRODUCTION: Chris Bolderstone


“Businesses that aren’t online are digging their own grave and missing out on potential business,” estimates Cape Townbased web hosting company 1-grid, and it is this omission that it is on a mission to fix. The internet has made the world a far smaller place and it is inarguable that enterprises with no or inadequate online presence are simply bypassed, as potential customers spend more and more of their time in studied reverie behind computer screens and smartphones.

1-grid is exactly the place to click for those clamouring to take their merchandise and transactions online, but lacking the knowledge of where to start or how to go about it and in need of the reassurance and deep experience of the specialists in all things hosting

in South Africa. “Investors need to see that you take yourself seriously and not having a website does not indicate a high level of seriousness,” 1-grid astutely analyses, “while having a functional website can also streamline processes in your business and make things easier.”


The benefits of starting or taking online an existing business are, in reality, endless. It lends legitimacy and enables people to follow-up the abundance of word-of-mouth recommendations with a more thorough search to gain an impression of what the company offers and the full range of products or services. An online presence also brings revenue from organic traffic, while being atop search results is essential to capturing potential new

customers. “In short, all businesses need to get online,” 1-grid sums up.

“From expertly designed websites to secure web hosting and water-tight security, we are your home online.”

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1-grid accomplishes everything from domain and company registration to reseller hosting, taking care of website design, building and optimisation and VPS and dedicated servers. “Combine these exciting services with a top team that understands the industry, and you get a company that’s outlived some of its biggest competitors,” 1-grid expands. “Our roots go back to 1997 and the formation of Webafrica, when websites

were simple and diskspace allocations which started at a whopping 5MB”

In 2013 Webafrica then purchased the renowned Gridhost, and five years later Gridhost Services was born, moving away from Webafrica

to embark on its new journey as a specialised web hosting business for SMEs in Southern Africa and rebranding as 1-grid. It has proven a voyage of constant evolution and adaptation to customer needs, replete with essential

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additions to the company’s support system such as new interactive channels and a brand-new ‘Knowledge Base’, to better assist customers

throughout their product experience.

Several country and industry firsts have punctuated the 1-grid story along the way, including a unique business registration feature which has allowed hundreds of start-ups to establish and protect their brand identity by ensuring consistency both on and offline. The birth of the company’s very own mobile app in 2020 was another example of its being again the one that others follow, joined by the ground-breaking 1-grid podcast to further empower SME’s in South Africa through online tools.

“This year, completing a major Data Centre move to a state-of-theart world class ISO certified facility

allows us to continue to provide the reliable, secure, and fast hosting service that you’ve come to expect from us,” 1-grid reveals, and this policy of progress and improvement stands the company in excellent stead, especially with 70% of South African SMEs expecting their investment in technology to increase in the next year.


This foreseen growth will directly impact and benefit 1-grid. SMEs are earmarking significant digital and IT budgets for everything from levelling-up websites and refreshing hardware to upping their spending on e-commerce, digital

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absa.africa: nation.africa entrepreneur.africa

Shout out to African businesses across the globe to join leading brands in Africa’s Digital Revolution.

Get empowered. Register your .africa domain name today. registry.africa

marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) in months to come. According to Ventureburn, “there is a growing acknowledgement that smart technology investments can pay for themselves multiple times over, by enabling a business to cut costs and improve profitability or increasing top-line revenues.

“Technology is key to SMB resilience, giving businesses the agility to thrive through difficult times.”

With 1-grid’s complete, all-in-one solution to get businesses online, nobody is better placed to pass comment on and offer valuable insight

into the further regulation of the registration and operation of websites in South Africa proposed by the dotZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA).

“Even when implemented with the best of intentions, restrictions run the risk of creating a barrier to entry,” cautioned 1-grid CEO Thomas Vollrath. “While we support the work of the registry in ensuring that the domain database is accurate, we also believe in an open market. Internationally, we’ve seen that the most successful registries have been the ones that ensure widescale open access to domains, without

unnecessary barriers to registration.

“To support local providers and promote industry growth, we should be encouraging South Africans to invest in local domains.

“At 1-grid we aim to invest in the growth of individuals and SMEs by moving them online,” the company reiterates. “We are inspired by the initiative that individuals and companies take to enter the business market in South Africa, and our team is passionate about SME growth and empowerment in South Africa and committed to the African entrepreneurial energy that helps SMEs succeed in the digital space.”

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@africandomain @africadomain @africandomain



Important events and exhibitions taking place across sub-Saharan Africa, giving brands a platform to tell their story.

NOV 08



8 - 10 | CAPE TOWN

In 2022, AfricaCom will be back bigger and better - it’s time to get back to business and meet your most important prospects in person in Cape Town this November!

Across five days, explore how technology champions are accelerating socio-economic development and building a better, more inclusive, digital world. The continent’s largest live and online event offering will provide you with countless opportunities pre-, during and post-event, to share brilliant ideas, showcase your solutions and products and develop relationships with the people (on the event floor, online and through our vast networking opportunities) more pivotal to your 2022 business objectives. Plus, with 25 years of informing, inspiring and connecting the biggest and most influential players across the continent’s digital ecosystem, there’s no doubt that this year will be one big party from start to finish! This is your opportunity to demonstrate expertise on the topics most critical to Africa’s pursuit of equitable, sustainable digital economies –alongside the biggest names in tech, business, and politics.


The Big 5 Construct Kenya is back, taking place from 9 – 11 November 2022 the expo will boast three days of product showcases and curated content making it the best medium to do business through powerful face-to-face networking.

The 5th edition of The Big Construct Kenya will be held at the Sarit Expo Centre in Nairobi and is your opportunity to connect with leading industry suppliers, discover innovative products, learn from world-class experts and earn your CPD points for 2022!


WFS Africa offers a high-quality congress where content is king. In Durban, high-calibre football industry leaders from Africa and overseas will discuss and debate key topics such as the legacy of the FIFA World Cup, digital adaptation, talent development, new competition models, smart investment, the rise of OTT and sponsorship activation.

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NOV 16
NOV 09
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