Lockdown easing fillip for United Refineries

DIVERSIFIED agro-processor United Refineries Limited (URL) is set to increase production, with South Africa — one of its largest raw material suppliers — having eased its lockdown which had disrupted its normal supply chain.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

The South African government moved the country into level 3 of the lockdown as from Monday, which meant reopening of many businesses.

In an emailed response to NewsDay Business following some media reports that the company had suspended operations due to the disruption of its supply chain, URL’s chief executive officer Busisa Moyo, said they were still operational.

“This is incorrect (that we had suspended operations). In fact we are increasing production now that raw materials can come through from South Africa after the lockdown in that country and disruptions to our normal supply chain.

We have not closed since we are an essential service and we need to replenish local cooking oil supplies,” Moyo said.

The URL boss said due to COVID-19-induced lockdown in the country, service support companies were closed as not all of them were considered essential, a development which also affected their operations.

“Our farmers were, however, under essentials and continued to deliver soyabean throughout the lockdown period. We have taken measures internally to protect colleagues from infection,” he said.

The URL is one of the largest Bulawayo-based cooking oil manufacturers.

At its inception in 1935, the company was called United Chemical and Soap and was only into soap, cooking oil and cosmetics manufacturing.

The company has grown over the years, expanding its product portfolio to mayonnaise and stockfeeds, focusing on servicing local, regional as well as international markets.

It exports cooking oil, stock feeds and a wide range of soaps to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.
As part of efforts to grow its business, URL is moving towards initial public offering.

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