BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
SHEPCO Group, which operates Shepco Industrial Supplies and Shepco BMA Fasteners, has so far invested about US$5 million for retooling and expansion projects at its operations in Bulawayo, an executive with the firm said yesterday.
Shepco Industrial Supplies manufactures mining equipment such as locomotives and underground loaders.
Shepco BMA Fasteners makes bolts.
In an interview with businessdigest, Shepco chief executive officer Shepherd Chawira said funds for retooling were sourced internally and from their units in South Africa.
“We have invested about US$5 million at both units. That has been partly financed by internal financing and from our units in South Africa,” he said.
“Basically, we have been able to extend credits to our local units. Having operations in South Africa has actually helped to support the local operations.”
Chawira said Shepco Industrial fared well in the first quarter, operating at more than 80% capacity utilisation.
“For Shepco BMA, our capacity utilisation increased but we are still at 30%. It increased in the last quarter going into the first quarter. People are very positive at the moment, I think for most of our industries, this stability that has been brought about by the foreign auction and also the enablers like fuel is now available,” he said.
“We all agree that most of last year going into early this the first quarter of 2021, power supply has been fairly stable. These have really strengthened the position from where companies have been operating from. Stability can be sustained and definitely, we are geared towards growth.
“We have various challenges there; initially it was forex for the raw materials, which is now available. We can now go to the auction market and buy. The biggest challenge that we are currently facing is that our products are expensive compared to the region. We are operating at 20% capacity utilisation whereas a company in South Africa, China or India for instance, is operating at 100%. We haven’t even restarted exports because we are not competitive. When we get to around 50% capacity utilisation, I am sure we can start talking about exports,” he said.