Cooking oil manufacturer, Olivine Industries, which has for long battled viability problems, has received a fresh lease of life following completion of its $15 million Phase One project. The project included the setting up of a new Buttercup margarine plant.
Olivine Industries director Sylvester Mangani told Business Weekly that the company was on a firm revival path, which has enabled some of its key brands to regain market share. Until 2015 Olivine was battling financial challenges with borrowings and payables in excess of $34 million against current assets of $21 million. The debilitating problems it faced provided the avenue for Surface Wilmar to take over after it acquired the 49,3 percent stake previously owned by AICO Africa, now Cottco.
“Olivine Industries is a company that had virtually closed after experiencing a period of perennial losses until 2015. The company’s balance sheet was not right, so the new investor came and the resuscitation of the company had to start.
“It was somehow always going to be easy to revive Olivine Industries because the company had great brands already. Financially, the company had been trading in the red for a long time and its products were off the shelves for some time,” said Mangani. However, the investment by Surface Wilmar enabled the company to clean up its balance sheet and access working capital, which led to revival of the Buttercup plant and saw the return of the product.
Already since its return, the margarine brand commands 90 percent of the shelf space. Mangani said the cooking oil manufacturer is now looking at setting up a bigger Buttercup plant next year under Phase Two of its projects, which will enable the company to start exporting into the region.
The company’s Phase Two projects programme is expected to get underway next year. On the soap manufacturing side, he said brands like Jade and Romance were back on the market. Olivine had also built a new plant and equipment for laundry soaps, which include brands like Dolphin and Perfection.
“We also have Jade and Romance as our key brands on the soap side. Jade is back on the shelves and commanding 50 percent of the market. We have brought in new plant and equipment to manufacture laundry soaps. By end of the year we should have our laundry soaps on the market like the Perfection soap and Dolphin among others. We were now importing the laundry soaps from Botswana, as a market,” he said..