Bulawayo-based tannery Wet Blue Industries has fallen on hard times following a total ban of raw hide exports by government in 2014, NewsDay has learnt.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Government, through the Finance ministry in 2014, banned all raw hide exports, a move described by players in the taxidermy industry as retrogressive.
In 2013 the government introduced a levy of $0,75 on every kilogramme of raw hide for export, a move that was expected to boost value addition in the leather industry, as well as curtail the exportation of raw hides by local abattoirs.
The Abattoirs Association of Zimbabwe said the levy had a negative impact on the sector with some players ceasing the export of raw hides — whether in wet blue form or raw state — while a few others had slowed down operations.
In an interview with NewsDay, Wet Blue judicial manager, Chrispen Mwete said the ban was threatening the viability of the company and the generality of the raw leather industry.
“The total ban of hide exports hugely affected the company as the business just stopped,” he said.
Mwete, however, said they have come up with other business strategies that will see the company taking off again. He said they clinched a deal with a local company that would be supplying them with treatment chemicals.
Last year, Mwete revealed that the company requires more than $600 000 to recapitalise and retool, as the imploding economy was hurting its performance.
Wet Blue Industries was placed under provisional judicial management in September 2014 after business went down following the Cold Storage Company’s demise.
In December 2014, Wet Blue Industries clinched a deal with a subsidiary of the Grills group of companies, Bulawayo Abattoirs, where the latter would supply
4 000 hides a month from last year.
Wet Blue Industries was one of the biggest tannery companies in Zimbabwe, processing between 18 and 25 tonnes of leather per month for export on behalf of the Cold Storage Company, which used to be the country’s biggest abattoir.
But the State-owned meat processor is saddled with a $22 million debt and owes workers $2,1 million in outstanding salaries. It requires $50 million to revive operations.
It resumed operations in October last year after shareholders injected capital.