Rollex keen on Zim expansion

Leonard Makombe

ROLLEX — a 100% owned Lonrho’s agribusiness division based in South Africa — seeks to expand its operations in Zimbabwe, a report by an international research firm, says.

Panmure Research said Rollex, whose revenue totaled £50 million (US$80,5million) last year ,could also expand into Zambia and Mozambique as the countries offer favourable year- round conditions for growing various crops.

“Crops from these countries should allow Rollex to harvest the produce earlier than competing South African farms, allowing Rollex to take advantage of higher pricing in the early season,” said Panmure in the report last month.

“Additionally, by obtaining land in the correct climatic zones in each of these three countries, Rollex should be able to grow crops which would ordinarily be out of season in South Africa, again allowing the company to benefit from improved pricing.”
Rollex procures, packs and delivers a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as fish, meat and flowers for both domestic and export markets, and is the market leader in the region.

Panmure said Rollex, which has a 200 hectares farm in Zimbabwe, planted 119 000 stone fruit trees, which have already yielded produce supplied to UK retailers.

“Provided the company is able to expand its operations into Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, there is likely to be a requirement to invest about £3m in the facility at Harare International Airport,” said Panmure. “This would provide the ability to carry out the value added activities of cutting and packing on site in Harare.”

Rollex operates a trucking fleet of about 40 refrigerated vehicles.

“We believe that this represents a key advantage over competitors and has allowed Rollex to establish a dedicated office on the Zimbabwe and South African border, which speeds up the delivery times by days – crucial when transporting fresh produce,” added the research firm.

Rollex is also understood to be looking at how they would expand their fleet. In its report, Panmure expected the Lonrho subsidiary to purchase an existing trucking business which already distributes goods northbound from South Africa.

Rollex at the beginning of this month said volumes were affected by exceptionally wet conditions through November and December in Southern Africa and warned yields would go down.

Expansion of operations within the region could also be viewed as a means to mitigate the strengthening Rand which makes exporting goods less competitive from South Africa.

Lonrho Agriculture, for which Rollex accounts for close to 90% of revenue, provides vertical integration of the African agricultural market delivering a production and processing logistics cold chain to take African produce to consumers. Lonrho Agriculture, according to their website delivers fresh produce both in Africa and internationally, driven by the growing global requirements for fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.

Apart from operating the 200 hectare Churchill Farm, Lonrho has a significant presence in the country through LonZim.

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