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TN Holdings: Rome was not built in a day

Evonia Muzondo
OSCAR Wilde, the prolific Irish writer and poet once said: “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” Success is a mindset, willpower and requires one to be more imaginative than have capital. There is never a limit to what one can do if they put their mind to it.
Prophetic Wilde could have been talking about Tawanda Nyambirai.  From a small corporate finance company that was probably started when Nyambirai was still working for NMB, the group has grown into a corporate behemoth.


Two years after listing, the company scored highest within the diversified group category, beating luminaries like Innscor, TSL and TA to the podium. What a feat!

If there was one year which belonged to Nyambirai , then 2011 was his. TN Holdings dominated both the corporate transaction space and the print media.


The group made a number of acquisitions, started some Greenfield projects and ran a spirited advertising campaign. On financial performance, TN Holdings was to surprise with a first half US$5 million bottom line, before the liquidity crunch saw it reduce to US$3 million by full year. Who would have thought that TN Holdings, named after founder Tawanda Nyambirai, would today be the talk of the town?

Unique business model
The TN Holdings Limited group, which listed on the ZSE on January 4, 2010, is a product of the reverse takeover of Tedco Ltd; which was then the largest furniture manufacturer and retailer in the country. Prior to that there was only TN Financial Services which was established in 2001. The company developed into an asset management company before acquiring Trustfin in 2006 and was rechristened TN Bank.

In 2009, TN Financial Holdings (TNFH) which housed the bank successfully completed the reverse takeover of Tedco to form TN Holdings. The subsidiaries of TN Holdings include TNFH the parent company of TN Bank, TN Medical and TN Asset Management. Part of the group is TN Harlequin Luxaire Limited which is the successor company to Tedco Retail and Springmaster Corporation, a holding company which used to house the bed, case goods and lounge suites manufacturing divisions of Tedco.

A new blessing for the group is the recently unveiled twins TN Grill — a fast food business — and TN Mart, a supermarket outlet.  The group entered into a 12-year lease agreement with Rufaro Marketing for its former beerhalls which it intends to use to further expand its retail offering. There is also a furniture shop in Zambia opened recently.

The purpose of the Tedco acquisition was to gain control over the furniture distribution network and in turn use it to deliver banking services to its customers through in store banking. It is hoped the distribution network will expand through the acquisition of Pelhams.

In cross-selling furniture and other products with banking, TN Holdings has created a unique and successful business model. From the look of things the business partnership of banking, furniture sales and fast foods seems a little strange, but the model has created strong synergies between the bank and the other businesses. The business model has benefitted the bank as it acquired a significant market share using furniture and other products as a conduit through which to acquire banking customers.

TN aimed to be unique from other banks and chose to look for customers by providing other attractive customer services. Tapping the source of deposits was important as new banks are failing to acquire established clients.


Competing for clients through dishing out loans is risky if the client defaults. It therefore made sense to take risk in a process that the bank can control.


Furniture business supply management
A critical success factor for the furniture business was the management of the supply chain. An operational foam plant was acquired and its capacity enhanced in both quality and quantity thereby securing foam, an important raw material. This resulted in increased throughput, reduced costs and increased margins.

A timber sawmill and drying kilns and an imported spring making plant was also acquired, as was a hydraulic clamp and finger jointing plant. The latter will allow re-use of timber off cuts  limiting the damage to the environment, whilst the former  two will enable the company to access hard woods directly from the forestry commission for own processing and eliminate the need to import spring units.

Banking on strategic partnerships
The bank has continued to tap into Econet’s strong subscriber base to spur growth in non-interest income through the Ecocash offering resulting in improved transaction volumes. The aim is to tap into the unbanked in order to increase deposits and expand the revenue base. So far it has proved a success and is good foresight on the part of management.

TN’s partnership with Econet allows the group to sell products from the company’s largest telecoms operator and also create a new pool of clients.

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