Hygiene is our business - Mandiwona

HARARE - Reckit Benkiser (RB) Zimbabwe managing director Agrippa Mandiwona (AM) spoke to businessdaily reporter Taurai Mangudhla (TM) in the side-lines of the company’s recent detergents donation to Chitungwiza Central Hospital.

In this interview, Mandiwona talks about the company’s operations and future prospects in general as well as its plans to comply with the Indigenisation Act.

TM: Give a brief profile of your company?

AM: RB is a global company and we are mainly focusing on hygiene, home and health products which we call it the triple H. Focusing on home, hygiene and health means that we have home cleaning products, then we have hygiene products and then we have health products. It has operations in around 60 countries and its products are sold in over 180 countries.

TM: Please expand on your product range?

AM:In terms of our stable of health products in Zimbabwe, the products that are very common is Disprin, Varipan, we are going to be launching Strepsils(a cough syrup) and Nurofen (a pain relief medicine).

Then we have the Jik and Sanpic, those are mainly home care products. Jik also doubles as a water treatment product and also even for sterilising where you see fit, whether you do tobacco or something else. Then we have Hygiene Purely which is mainly kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner mainly coming under the Dettol brand as well as Cobra — the surface cleaner.

TM: Where are you currently manufacturing these brands?

AM: We are currently manufacturing in Southerton most of the products that we have except for those we need technology, we have to import.

TM: How is business in general?

AM: In terms of business, everything is going well, our products are finding a lot of demand from the customers mainly because they are products that are relevant in the house.

TM: How has the company been fairing specifically post dollarization?

AM: Business for us is well, even during the Zimbabwe dollar, our business continued working.

It was not as great as one would want it to be, but we sustained the business throughout the period mainly because consumers continued buying the products and today we still feel that we are still coming through.

People have grown to know the products and they have become part of their lives.

TM: Speaking of Brands, what is your flagship in Zimbabwe?

AM: Well we have, I would say not one, we have the Jik which is mainly for water treatment, Dettol is very common and people just use it everywhere, even in barbershops and hospitals. Then another flagship is the Harpic which we just donated here.

Harpic being a toilet cleaner is very popular in the country so I think those three are the topmost.

Then we do have of course Dispirin which is like a niche focus mainly on minor illnesses.

TM: Is Disprin the only medical drug that you are currently manufacturing in Zimbabwe?

AM: Yes and then the other ones we are re-registering so next year we will have Nurofen and other products in the market.

TM: I suppose you are grabbing the opportunity to grow your medical products portfolio as a result of troubles at Caps Holdings?

AM: Not really because Caps is a purely pharmaceutical company and their range is much bigger whereas ours are over the counter kind of products not prescription drugs and they are mainly driven by global demand instead of just focusing on our local needs.

TM: You said your products are not confined to the local market, how much do you export?

AM: We do not export because we are a global company so basically we are responsible for Zimbabwe so we look at our own market. We tailor make our ranges and portfolio for our own market.

TM: Please give an update on the company shareholding and your compliance with the indigenisation?

AM:RB is currently owned by Reckitt Benckiser plc the global company. This is a public company actually, but the only thing is that it’s not listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange so basically it’s not owned by a single individual, it’s traded on the stock market.

On indigenisation, basically what I can only say is that unfortunately right now I cannot give a comment on that because we have already submitted the plan and it would be premature before the board announces where we stand.

We are awaiting that response and once we get, we have actually put in place measures to comply with the current legislation.

But basically what we have done now is to look at how do we then come in on indigenisation and empowerment in Zimbabwe because that is not normally the model for us having multiple listings, but we have submitted and we are awaiting approval.

TM: So is it safe to assume the compliance plan involves listing on the ZSE?

AM: I would leave that to the minister and the board to then say are we doing the right thing or not because there has been a very good engagement where we get responses and they tell us what to improve so that we do the right thing.

TM: What is your staff compliment?

AM: There are about 67 permanent employees and from time to time we do products like Chirindamatura dust then we can go as high as 114.

TM: What about agents?

AM:We normally call them partners; we don’t like to call them agencies otherwise they become very divorced from the company. We also work with agencies and distributors for marketing, selling, distributing the products.

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