• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

To Save Local Industry: Unifreight tells Govt to restrict informal imports

ByETimes

Sep 26, 2023

By ETimes

HARARE – Authorities need to restrict imports of goods that can be manufactured locally in order to boost the domestic industry, listed logistics firm Unifreight Africa has said.

In May 2022, the Treasury promulgated Statutory Instrument 98 of 2022, suspending duty on basic commodities to cushion consumers from expensive locally produced goods.

This suggested that during the six months ending November 2022, anybody might import the stated necessities without the necessity for import authorizations or licences.

“We are also hopeful there will be interventions from government to curtail informal imports that have been competing with domestically produced goods so as to support local industry, and promote job creation,” Peter Annesley, chairman for Unifreight, said in a statement accompanying the half year results ended 30 June 2023.

Volumes, a key indicator of demand, were up 38% year on year.

“Significant contributions have come from tobacco, where we are now transporting over 40,000 tons per annum which is 91% up from last year,” Annesley said.

“With the new fleet we have also been able to dedicate vehicles to blue chip customers such as Delta, Triangle, Unilever, Nestle, Cairns who all require nationwide distribution.”

The group’s inflation adjusted topline rose 115% to $55 billion from restated revenues of $22 billion.

“The group continues to monitor costs under the current volatile environment. Tonnage grew by 50% from prior year (though 18% below budget), largely driven by tobacco volumes and increased FTL volumes from new vehicle assets,” he said.

Net profit before tax declined 30% to $6 billion, largely due to an increase in finance costs.

“Finance costs were driven by revaluation of foreign denominated loans obtained to finance new vehicles amounting to $44 billion,” Annesley said.

The group’s balance sheet increased from $66 billion to $269 billion owing to a combination of recapitalisation of our fleet and revaluation of assets.

Annesley said the group maintains a positive outlook despite a challenging operating environment.

“The Group remains optimistic about the future and looks forward to being able to utilize our increased capacities during the traditional festive period ramp up in retail spend between October and December,” he said.

It did not declare a dividend.

“Given the group’s focus on improving working capital cycles as well as the need to reduce exposures to borrowings and foreign liabilities, the board has decided not to declare an interim dividend.”

The company traded flat at $258.75 in today’s trading session.

By ETimes

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