Interfresh board closes subsidiaries

Roadwin Chirara

THE Interfresh board of directors has approved the closure of some of the company’s subsidiaries as part of the horticultural concern’s restructuring exercise.



face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The company’s board met last week and approved the closure of Smithfield, one of the company’s flower producers.


The decision to close the 12-hectare hyperricum flower operation comes after the business unit continued to face operational challenges which in turn impacted on the profitability of the group.


The persistent low stem prices in export markets coupled with reduced production levels influenced the decision to close the operation.


Production levels at Smithfield have dropped by over 40% and projected to shrink further.


Interfresh chairman Lishon Chipango confirmed the company had taken the decision to wind down the operations of the flower business unit.


He said the closure of Smithfield Flowers had been taken as part of the ongoing restructuring of operations of the horticultural concern.


“We have had to review some of the group’s operations and business units such as the Smithfield Flower will be closed down and the employees moved to our other operations,” Chipango said.


Chipango said the company’s packaging division in Mvurwi would be moved to Mazoe Citrus Estates as part of the ongoing exercise.


“We will be merging the packaging business which will be moved to Mazoe under the ongoing rationalisation of the business,” said Chipango.


He said Citrifresh Export, a citrus technical management business, would also fall victim to the group’s restructuring, largely due to viability problems and would also be merged with operations at Mazoe Estates.


“We are having to do all this in an effort to cut down on operational costs, especially business units that are struggling to remain viable,” said Chipango.

He said its Interspan subsidiary would be pulling out of three of its 10 projects due to operational challenges such as quality of produce harvested.


He said factors such as logistical problems had impacted on the operations of Interspan.


“At Interspan we have faced serious challenges and this has resulted in the division pulling out of three projects largely due to logistical problems and also as part of our effort to reduce operational costs and improve viability for the unit,” said Chipango.


He said due to the critical position of its dam capacity at Mazoe Estates which currently is at 7%, the group had taken a decision to forego its winter wheat to divert water suppliers to its orange trees.


“The water situation at the estates is critical and this has resulted in the group deciding to forego its traditional winter wheat crop to conserve water and to sustain its orange trees but we will be drilling boreholes to increase our water reserves,” Chipango said.


He said the company was still pursuing efforts to have its land delisted after being compulsorily acquired by government.


At least “46% of our land at Mazoe remains settled and 88% of the land has been listed for acquisition by the government, but we are making consultations with regards to the matter”, Chipango said.


The group’s turnover for the first half of the year increased by 133% to $185 billion, while export turnover increased by 39%.


The group recorded a profit after tax of $12,9 billion, an increase of 115% compared to the prior year’s figure.