Eversharp partners Indian stationery firm

HARARE - Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed Art Corporation (Art)’s stationery manufacturing subsidiary Eversharp has entered into a strategic partnership with Indian-based Luxor International.

The partnership is expected to boost Eversharp’s competitiveness in the local market, where it is facing competition from cheaper stationery imports from China.

The deal involves Eversharp acquiring exclusive distribution rights, a move that would strengthen its foothold in the sub-Saharan region.

Luxor — a writing instruments manufacturer — produces pencils, colouring books, crayons, erasers, scholastic ball pens, gel pens and executive metal pens among other top range products.

“We are Luxor in Zimbabwe and we have direct access to the international brand with a full range of products.

“We would have needed to invest and spend money and time developing products, but we now have immediate access and we will provide products tailor-made to suit our market needs,” said Tafara Makayi, Eversharp managing director.

In the partnership, Eversharp is set to benefit from shared marketing experiences as well as technological transfer which would significantly improve production processes, product quality and innovation.

Eversharp is also re-introducing the popular Croxley brand, previously marketed by Fleximail.

Croxley products include exercise books, counter books, covers (plastic and khaki) and files.

Makayi said Eversharp will be extending its product range into the region including Botswana Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.

Meanwhile, Art’s turnover grew by 15 percent to $11,5 million in the first quarter to January 31, 2012 on the back of improved performances by most of its units except Eversharp.

During the period, Eversharp’s operations were weighed down by machinery breakdown.

“The decline in Eversharp’s volumes was as a result of significant downtime due to maintenance shutdown, “Art chief executive, Richard Zirobwa said, adding that the liquidity crunch was affecting business and demand in the market.

However, the partnership with Luxor is expected to spur the pen manufacturer to profitability and sustainable operating margins.

The group recorded improved margins of 33 percent compared to 28 percent during the same period last year as a result of improvements at the Kadoma factory.

Zirobwa said operating profit was higher than last year with 84 percent of the profit having been channelled towards interest payment. - Kudzai Chawafambira

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