By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, April 29 (The Source) – Starafricacorporation has been granted authorisation by The Coca Cola Company (TCCC) to supply granulated sugar to Coca Cola plants in Southern Africa, The Source has established.
This valuable seal of approval could be a fillip for the struggling manufacturer, which has had to halt operations to upgrade its aged plant. Starafrica expects to start sugar supplies to bottling firms when the refinery resumes production in May after losing the TCCC accreditation a few years ago.
“Last week the company received the authorisation after TCCC sent its auditors who carried out an inspection of the plant. The authorisation is renewable on an annual basis,” a source, who declined to be named as he does not have authorization to speak for the company, said.
“We will start supplying sugar to customers in the food and beverages sector in the first half of May 2015,” the source said.
In August 2013, the company entered into a scheme of arrangement with its creditors after failing to settle debts in excess of $20 million. The scheme required the company to dispose of Bluestar Logistics and 33 percent stake in Tongaat Hulett Botswana (THB) in order to raise funds to make part settlements to creditors.
On November 6 last year, an official said Starafrica was unlikely to dispose of its Botswana associate as it was a core asset whose dividends could be used as working capital.
Bluestar, however, remains on the market owing to liquidity constraints on the domestic market.
The company has been struggling to pay workers having stopped operations for 15 months to facilitate the upgrade of its refinery. As a result, salaries and wages are a few months in arrears, a situation that will be progressively addressed once the refinery becomes fully operational.
The plant at Harare refinery has been upgraded to a capacity of 600 tonnes per day.
While demand for household sugar remains low, the company will rely more on industrial sales which make up over 80 percent of its market share.
In its last published results, Star Africa’s losses for the six months to September narrowed to $3,154 million from $5,237 million in the previous year. Revenue fell by nearly 60 percent but the company said it expects to perform better in 2015 because of cost reduction measures and a stable domestic market for sugar.
Its major shareholders include the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) which holds an 24 percent stake in the company, Old Mutual and ZSR Investment UK which own 10,7 percent and 5,84 percent respectively.