BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
DIVERSIFIED agro-processor United Refineries Limited (URL) has resumed some of its product lines it had discontinued following the outbreak of COVID-19 which disrupted its supply chain, chief executive Busisa Moyo has said.
These products include Unity mealie-meal, Fresh Health Joy soap and Image soap.
Moyo told NewsDay Business in emailed responses that the company had not been spared by the challenges that came with COVID-19 and lockdowns, forcing it to discontinue some of its product lines.
“Firstly, we have had a few cases at the plant which disrupted factory operations in the past few months. Secondly, the local lockdown and lockdowns in neighbouring countries like South Africa and Botswana have meant that both local and imported raw materials are delayed in getting to our factory for processing. This inevitably increases the cost of doing business,” Moyo said, adding that they were grateful to their customers and channel partners who had remained supportive throughout the pandemic.
“We may have been delayed but will be coming to the market with refreshing offerings and resuming some lines we had discontinued. Unity mealie-meal, Fresh Health Joy soap and Image soap are now back on the market. We have also branded our stockfeeds: NutriPro soya bean meal, NutriPro cotton meal and NutriPro cotton hulls.”
Moyo said the welfare of staff had taken added significance during the difficult times.
“We have continued to prioritise the welfare of staff during the pandemic and ensure they remained sheltered from challenges presented by the pandemic directly or indirectly making sure remuneration remains up to date,” Moyo said.
“We have also continued to implore and institute measures to retain key skills as the company has suffered from the effects of brain drain over the years due to ‘greener pastures’ for key skills.”
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. As part of efforts to grow its business, URL is moving towards initial public offering.