Sober­ing ad­vice from brew­ery boss

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

Ma­luti Moun­tain Brew­ery ( MMB) has part­nered Pop­u­la­tion Ser­vices in­ter­na­tional (PSI) Le­sotho in the fight against HIV and AIDS through a pi­lot con­dom dis­tri­bu­tion pro­gramme.

The part­ner­ship, launched on 19 De­cem­ber, also in­cludes the Le­sotho Liquor Out­lets and Restau­rants Own­ers (LL­ROA), and seeks to dis­trib­ute and en­cour­age the use of con­doms among the youths.

Le­sotho Times (lt) re­porter, lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane, speaks with MMB Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, Thomas Mopati Mpedi, about this ini­tia­tive and the com­pany’s prospects.

LT: Could you please give us a brief back­ground about MMB.

Mpedi: The Le­sotho Brew­ing Com­pany, whose name was later changed to Ma­luti Moun­tain Brew­ery, was reg­is­tered on 9 April 1980. Le­sotho’s lo­cal al­co­hol in­dus­try com­prises one man­u­fac­turer, which is Ma­luti Moun­tain Brew­ery (MMB), an af­fil­i­ate com­pany of the Sabmiller Group—the world’s sec­ond largest beer brewer by vol­ume. Ma­luti Moun­tain Brew­ery brews beer brands owned by Sabmiller un­der li­cense, and is a fran­chised bot­tler of the Coca-cola Com­pany. Ma­luti Moun­tain Brew­ery has dis­trib­u­tor agree­ments with var­i­ous al­co­hol com­pa­nies to dis­trib­ute wines, spir­its and al­co­holic fruit bev­er­ages, through its sub­sidiary Le­sotho Liquor Dis­trib­u­tors, to re­tail trade out­lets in Le­sotho. The gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho is the big­ger share­holder through the Le­sotho Na­tional Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LNDC) and the Min­istry of Fi­nance – Pri­vati­sa­tion Unit with 51 per­cent and 5.25 per­cent re­spec­tively; Sabmiller 39 per­cent and le­sotho unit Trust takes the re­main­ing 4.75 per­cent. SABMiller also has Man­age­ment Rights which, in sim­ple lan­guage, means they man­age the busi­ness.

LT: We have come to the end of 2014… could you please high­light some of MMB’S key achieve­ments for the year.

Mpedi: Ma­luti Moun­tain Brew­ery is a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor, through var­i­ous taxes, to the rev­enue of the Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho. It is one of the largest tax­pay­ers in Le­sotho. We em­ploy 330 peo­ple on a full­time ba­sis and an­other 50 on a part-time ba­sis. We are work­ing hard to de­velop our cus­tomers. To date, we have es­tab­lished and de­vel­oped seven dis­trib­u­tors of our prod­ucts who are en­trepreneurs of note in Le­sotho.

We have dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers whom we sup­port through our busi­ness and th­ese in­clude clean­ers, cater­ers, and sup­pli­ers of raw ma­te­rial for our bev­er­ages, such as sugar. We also sup­port gen­eral and spe­cial­ist sup­plies such as sta­tionery, mar­ket­ing agen­cies, fuel, wa­ter and elec­tric­ity.

On Cor­po­rate so­cial in­vest­ment and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, we launched a youth en­trepreneur­ship em­pow­er­ment project named Kick Start to­wards the end of 2013, to the tune of M500, 000.00 and six can­di­dates were awarded funds to start and or en­hance their small busi­nesses. The busi­nesses we have sup­ported are in farm­ing, fash­ion de­sign, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and med­i­cal emer­gency trans­port. We sup­port high school soc­cer through our COPA Coca-cola Spon­sor­ship. In 2014, we spon­sored COPA Coca-cola with M260, 000.00. We pro­vide wa­ter and en­ergy drinks for the na­tional team, Likuena, dur­ing their train­ing camps and matches.

In De­cem­ber 2014, we struck a part­ner­ship with Pop­u­la­tion Ser­vices in­ter­na­tional (PSI) to dis­trib­ute con­doms to com­mu­ni­ties through our re­tail­ers un­der the Le­sotho Liquor and Restau­rants Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (LL­ROA). It is a pi­lot that tar­gets four dis­tricts in 2015; Maseru, Mokhot­long, ThabaTseka and Qacha’s Nek.

the part­ner­ship was launched on the 19th of De­cem­ber 2014 and we were hon­oured by the pres­ence of two Hon­ourable Min­is­ters of Health and of Trade and In­dus­try, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing. We plan to roll­out con­dom dis­tri­bu­tion to other dis­tricts in 2016 to en­sure that each and ev­ery sex­u­ally ac­tive Mosotho can ac­cess free con­doms re­gard­less of where they re­side. This is our con­tri­bu­tion to the re­duc­tion of HIV and Aids. Thanks to PSI and LL­ROA for part­ner­ing with us on this one.

Brew­ing and Pack­ag­ing Plant Im­prove­ment- Since 2013, we have un­der­taken to im­prove our plant and ca­pac­ity for bet­ter qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency. In 2013, we in­vested M105 mil­lion; 2014 M85mil­lion and we plan to in­vest over M175 mil­lion over the next two years. En­vi­ron­ment Man­age­ment – We in­vested in M20 mil­lion for the con­struc­tion of an Ef­flu­ent Treat­ment Plant.

The ef­flu­ent we send to the sewer-line is as good as house­hold ef­flu­ent. Waste Man­age­ment – we sell most of our bev­er­ages in re­turn­able packs. We in­tend to cre­ate in­comegen­er­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties through post-con­sump­tion waste man­age­ment such as col­lect a can. Our flag­ship Ma­luti Pre­mium Lager is a unique brand that Ba­sotho take pride in and it sat­is­fies tourists while vis­it­ing Le­sotho. The Brand has won the fol­low­ing awards: 2012 Mer­ca­tus – prow­ess in mar­ket­ing (Sabmiller Global Award, 2013 (Gold Award) at the In­au­gu­ral African Beer Awards for beer un­der 5% in Taste and Qual­ity, 2014 Monde Awards – taste and Qual­ity (Sil­ver Award). Other awards won by MMB in- clude 2014 Cer­ti­fied Qual­ity Man­age­ment Sys­tem, 2014 Cer­ti­fied Food Safety Man­age­ment Sys­tem, 2014 Most im­proved sup­ply chain (Sabmiller Africa Award) and in five years (since 2010) in a row, in Africa we have won the Best IT (in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy) Depart­ment Award.

LT: Now tell us about the ma­jor chal­lenges you have come across over re­cent times.

Mpedi: Our main chal­lenge in the past year was in the sec­ond quar­ter where our vol­umes were sub­dued largely due to the fact that we were up­grad­ing our plant. We have been suc­cess­ful in that the up­grade of the plant has paid off dur­ing the past fes­tive sea­son. This year, we had ad­e­quate stock for the fes­tive sea­son and con­sumers of our bev­er­ages were much hap­pier. LT: What are your prospects for 2015? Mpedi: In the New Year, we will be launch­ing a new and ex­cit­ing re­tailer devel­op­ment pro­gramme for our cus­tomers. We will be start­ing a busi­ness up-skilling train­ing pro­gramme, which is in­tended to give our re­tail­ers skills to run ef­fi­cient and prof­itable busi­nesses.

This will be an all-ex­penses paid train­ing by MMB and is meant to en­sure that our re­tail­ers run sus­tain­able busi­nesses, which can mean­ing­fully in­crease their in­comes and qual­ity of life and that of the com­mu­ni­ties in which they live.

Our Kick Start Project is also con­tin­u­ing in the com­ing year. We plan to launch the sec­ond round early in 2015 still tar­get­ing to sup­port the youth with grants to start and /or im­prove their busi­nesses. On the other hand, we will be con­tin­u­ing to men­tor the cur­rent awardees of Kick Start Round One to en­sure that their busi­nesses are suc­cess­ful.

LT: Tell us about the coun­try’s pro­posed al­co­hol pol­icy and how it is go­ing to af­fect the in­dus­try.

Mpedi: We have sought part­ner­ship with the Min­istry of Health and wish to par­tic­i­pate in the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the draft­ing of the Na­tional Al­co­hol Pol­icy. As MMB, we pro­mote re­spon­si­ble al­co­hol use. We ad­vo­cate for legal mea­sures and en­force­ment to curb un­der­age drink­ing and al­co­hol abuse. We are aware that in Le­sotho, 66 per­cent of al­co­hol is il­licit and Le­sotho’s ma­jor towns are a stone’s throw away from RSA (Repub­lic of South Africa).

When al­co­hol is highly re­stricted in the coun­try, peo­ple re­sort to il­licit al­co­hol or al­ter­na­tively, will cross the bor­der. This can im­pact the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try as a whole, as well as gov­ern­ment rev­enue. We be­lieve that tar­geted mea­sures, vis-à-vis pop­u­la­tion-based mea­sures, would go a long way in ad­dress­ing al­co­hol abuse and that we are in­te­gral, as an in­dus­try, to en­sur­ing our prod­ucts are used re­spon­si­bly.

LT: What ex­actly is the MMB do­ing to ad­dress un­der­age drink­ing?

Mpedi: The Sabmiller group, of which MMB is an af­fil­i­ate com­pany, launched a web­site called www.talkingal­co­, which pro­vides health and gen­eral con­sumer in­for­ma­tion on al­co­hol and re­spon­si­ble con­sump­tion. MMB is ex­plor­ing ways of lo­cal­is­ing the con­tent of this very im­por­tant web­site, es­pe­cially for young peo­ple.

MMB has, in the past, con­ducted a ra­dio talk-show pro­gramme on Ul­ti­mate Ra­dio, called Talk­ing Al­co­hol, where young peo­ple en­gaged with health ex­perts, psy­chol­o­gists and other pro­fes­sion­als through a phone-in plat­form to dis­cuss the dan­gers of ex­ces­sive al­co­hol con­sump- tion and how so­ci­etal fac­tors of­ten come into play in terms of how peo­ple re­late to and use al­co­hol.

The pro­gramme is in­tended to be re­vived and ex­tended to other plat­forms such as tele­vi­sion and so­cial me­dia. MMB ad­heres to a global Sabmiller frame­work for sel­f­reg­u­la­tion. This en­tails that all op­er­at­ing busi­nesses of the group will have in place, an ac­tive Sales and Mar­ket­ing Com­pli­ance Com­mit­tee chaired by in­de­pen­dent third par­ties, to en­sure that the global Pol­icy on Com­mer­cial Com­mu­ni­ca­tion that gov­erns ad­ver­tise­ments, con­sumer pro­mo­tions, bill­boards and printed ma­te­rial, is en­forced and ad­hered to at all times.

Our Com­mit­tee is chaired by the Deputy Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Tourism. We are a com­ply­ing com­pany. MMB ex­plores part­ner­ships with the rel­e­vant min­istries and other re­lated in­sti­tu­tions to raise aware­ness on Al­co­hol Re­spon­si­bil­ity through train­ing of re­tail­ers on re­spon­si­ble trad­ing, Ra­dio Pro­grammes and Tele­vi­sion Pro­grammes, as well as the print me­dia to cam­paign for al­co­hol re­spon­si­bil­ity.

LT: What specif­i­cally are the MMB’S prod­ucts?

Mpedi: We man­u­fac­ture the fol­low­ing brands in-house: Ma­luti Pre­mium Lager – “Our Beer Our Pride” which was voted the best African Beer in 2013; Cas­tle Lager, Cas­tle Milk Stout, Hansa Pilsener, and soft drinks in­clud­ing Coke, Coke Lite, Tab, Fanta Or­ange, Grape, Pine, Stoney, Cream Soda. Other bev­er­age brands such as Redds, Sarita, Fly­ing Fish, Cas­tle Lite, Miller Gen­uine Drought and Peroni are im­ported from South Africa. We also im­port Ap­ple­tizer and Minute Maid.

LT: We un­der­stand also that you rein­tro­duced the “tra­di­tional” Chibuku, which is al­most like a home­made tra­di­tional beer. Tell us about it.

Mpedi: It was in­tro­duced on the 17th of Oc­to­ber, 2012. Ba­sotho love the prod­uct. It tastes like the home­made Se­sotho beer. We still have more work to do to mar­ket it to all Ba­sotho through­out the coun­try. It is the one prod­uct that has a po­ten­tial to grow. The beauty with Chibuku is that raw ma­te­ri­als such and maize and sorghum can be sourced from lo­cal farm­ers.

LT: Why is Ma­luti, as the pre­mium beer, not sold out­side the coun­try?

Mpedi: Ma­luti Pre­mium Lager is a big brand in Le­sotho and cur­rently con­trib­utes 17% of our vol­umes. It is still small out­side Le­sotho and the de­mand is not big enough to war­rant im­ports by our sis­ter com­pa­nies in other mar­kets.

The im­port­ing coun­tries de­ter­mine the de­mand and trig­ger the im­port de­ci­sion of any brand in the Sabmiller sta­ble, as well as sup­port the brand through en­sur­ing avail­abil­ity and mar­ket­ing. This prin­ci­ple ap­plies in our mar­ket as well. None of our sis­ter com­pa­nies can ex­port a brand into our mar­ket with­out MMB es­tab­lish­ing the de­mand and en­sur­ing avail­abil­ity and mar­ket­ing sup­port.

LT: How do for­eign brands af­fect your busi­ness?

Mpedi: We have a li­cense to im­port other beer brands into Le­sotho and so far, it has been good. We are able to meet the de­mands of our cus­tomers with their var­ied pref­er­ences.

LT: What could be your end-of-year mes­sage?

Mpedi: We wish Ba­sotho a pros­per­ous 2015. We ap­peal to all con­sumers of our bev­er­ages to en­joy them re­spon­si­bly and that our al­co­holic prod­ucts are not used by chil­dren un­der the age of 18 years. We prom­ise an im­proved ser­vice to our cus­tomers in the New Year. Our em­ploy­ees are the great­est as­set we have within MMB and i want to thank them for their ded­i­ca­tion and hard work and wish them all the best in 2015.

Ma­luti Moun­tain Brew­ery Man­ag­ing Direc­tor thomas Mopati Mped

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