Kenya: Battery firm Eveready back to markets, posts profits

By Tatianah Kiptoo,

NAIROBI – Eveready East Africa has bounced back on its feet after posting a pre-tax profit of Sh 273 million, for the full year ended September 30, 2017, a year after terminating its contract with Energizer Holdings.

The company launched a new brand of portable power solutions, Turbo, in Kenya in November 2016 after terminating their contract with Energizer Holdings whom they have been partnering with for the last 49 years.

The firm signed partnership deals with global manufactures working out of Asia to produce its own products, including batteries and flashlights, retailing under the brand name Turbo.

The company, also distribute other products like Clorox bleach and a detergent, Everclean.

“Since we introduced our brand Turbo in November 2016, it has become a significant player in portable power business in key markets, segments and categories that we participate in. We have grown our brand since launch,” the Company’s Chairperson, Ms Lucy Waithaka, said in Nakuru during the annual general meeting.

The company, had, for the past six years been recording dwindling sales that led to closure of its dry cell factory in Nakuru in September 2014 as pressure from cheap imports drove it into losses.

In financial year 2016, the company admitted running out of stock of their products during the transition period, recording a 51percent decline in total revenues compared to the previous year.

The company, in the last financial year recorded a loss of Ksh 207m after tax compared to a loss after tax of Ksh 202m in financial year 2015.

During the same year, the company closed its Ugandan warehouse and opted to supply the market through a distributor.

Ms Waithaka however, attributed the success to their brand which has existed for almost 50 years to decision to break off from Energizer Holdings having given the company complete control and diversity.

“Our business is stronger now because of the bold decisions that we have taken to guarantee our future sustainability. Another key success of our 2013-17 plan was diversification in to new product lines, we launched turbo car batteries in 2013 and also expanded our lighting division to include household lighting and fabric care products,” Ms Waithaka added.

She added that a dividend of 210 million will be paid to shareholders by May this year.

The company’s Managing Director Mr Jackson Mutua said the sale of their properties in Nakuru at a cost of Sh1.4 Billion enabled the company to clear its debts, paid taxes provide working capital and support the business.

“This year, Eveready moves to entrench the gains realized in 2017 and focus on the long-term sustainable growth and profitability. We are leading the most comprehensive series of changes in company’s history,” Mr Mutua said.

He said the company has been able to solve the stock-out incidents during the transition period, a move which impacted negatively on both domestic and export businesses.

“The company experienced a challenging out-of-stock situation during the transition period occasioned by lack of supplies from our global supplier of carbon zinc and alkaline batteries, which adversely affected supply,” said Mr Mutua said.

However, he said the company is currently in firm control of its business.

“As a new entrant, we have grown from zero sales in financial year 2017 in respect of dry cell business under our brand Turbo and Turbo plus to occupy the second position in terms of market share in categories and key market segments,” he added.

During the meeting, the board passed a 2018-2022 strategic plan to guide the business for the next five years.

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