United Refineries diversifies to stay afloat

UNITED Refineries Limited (URL) is one of the largest Bulawayo-based cooking oil manufacturers, established in 1935.


During its inception in 1935, the company was called United Chemical and Soap. It was only into manufacturing soap, cooking oil and cosmetics.
Now, the company has grown in leaps and bounds over the past year, expanding its product portfolio to mayonnaise and stock-feeds, thanks to the leadership of Busisa Moyo, a seasoned business executive, industrialist and entrepreneur.

Current product portfolio

URL manufactures products such as Roil, Image, Star Bar and Olive Green Bar.

Recently, the company re-launched its old lines of Image Soap, FreshHealth Joy and Vogue which had been constrained by lack of raw materials due to foreign currency challenges.

It also launched its new mayonnaise line under Roil Mayonnaise brand and an olive oil brand, where olive varieties are grown in the Eastern Cape and “we will be bringing in the bulk product and down packing it in Zimbabwe. The market can look forward to more products which we will reveal in the next 12 months,” Moyo told Southern Eye recently.

Company’s prospects/future plans

The company, Moyo said, sees itself as a fast-moving consumer goods manufacturer and brands company that delivers welfare within and without, through products and brands that create clean and fresh surroundings, a healthy body and skin and nutritious foods that balance diet.
Social corporate responsibility

The company does not only do business to make profit and then forget about its customers. It is immensely involved in social corporate responsibility, through working in the areas of cancer awareness campaign, empowering community in agro-value chains and training youth through graduate trainee and student attachment programmes.

Employment figures

Edible oil manufacturer has created more than 280 permanent jobs for Zimbabweans plus 100 contract employees.

Current operational capacity

The firm was currently operating at between 30% and 50% capacity, according to Moyo.

This is despite the fact that the manufacturing sector in the country is battling for survival as local bank’s nostro accounts, held in foreign countries to facilitate settlement of foreign exchange and trade transactions, have dried up due to internal cash problems.

The fact that many firms closed all their operations in Bulawayo and across the nation, but URL is still standing and growing big as international brand, proves that the company is well managed.

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