BETA ventures into region, merges with Zambian firm

Kudzai Kuwaza

ZIMBABWE’S largest clay brick and roof tile manufacturer, BETA Holdings, has merged with a Zambian company Kalulushi Clay Bricks (KCB) (Pvt) Ltd as it bids to spread its wings in the region, businessdigest has established.

The merger comes at a time BETA Concrete, a subsidiary of BETA, is investing around US$10 million in constructing a factory in Goromonzi, around 40 kilometres east of Harare. The factory — with annual capacity of 180 million bricks — is expected to be completed end of this year and create about 400 jobs.

BETA chief executive Godfrey Manhambara told businessdigest this week that the merger will enable the company to be more efficient and competitive.

“The merger is intended to improve operational efficiencies and result in an organisation that is best-placed to compete in a global economy,” Manhambara said.

“To this end, the company continues to scan the environment for new opportunities and ways of improving efficiencies. As such, the merger provides an opportunity for growth and should lead to more jobs and better security for existing employees and any new ones who shall be recruited in due course by the operating companies in Zimbabwe and the target territories.”

KCB is a private company and its principal business is clay brick manufacturing. KCB was established in 1973 as Zamclay. The company operates a brick-making factory in Kalulushi town in the Copperbelt province of Zambia and is the largest producer and supplier of clay bricks in Zambia.

“The merger will give impetus to further widening the product range of KCB so that it becomes a supplier of key infrastructural inputs in the Zambian marketplace,” Manhambara said.

He added that the merger will create and strengthen the BETA group’s market leadership position in the infrastructural inputs market in Southern and Central Africa, which is the target region, through a combination of KCB’s energy efficient manufacturing expertise and BETA’s quality-centric production systems and production scale economies.

“Ultimately, this creation of BETA International based from Mauritius, is expected to spearhead the introduction and spread of operating companies in the respective territories which will offer greater efficiencies, quality products, competitive prices and significantly assist in the infrastructure development of Zimbabwe and the region,” Manhambara said.

He said the thrust of BETA International, the newly created holding company in Mauritius, is to give effect to its vision to be the key infrastructural inputs supplier in Zimbabwe and the region.

He said the Zambian merger was what he hoped to be the first of more mergers and acquisitions in the region over the next few years.

He said the company has also been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of fatalities globally and has severely weakened economies worldwide.

“As with most manufacturing companies in the country, the BETA group was negatively affected by the understandable measures taken by government to control the spread of the pandemic in April to May as production, sales and deliveries to customers was suspended,” Manhambara revealed. “BETA has, however, always employed a risk-based approach in carrying out its business operations which allows us to be agile and responsive to internal and external business risk factors as they emerge. The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated a total review of how we do business, including acceleration of electronic and digital means of doing business as well as plant and service automation for us to enable business continuity even during the lockdown.”

He said they have also invested in extensive and sustained educational programmes for its staff and the surrounding community to minimise the spread of the virus, as well as strict compliance with recommended Covid-19 protocols, which included implementing screening of all staff and visitors to their premises and regular testing of employees.