Bu­l­awayo tyre man­u­fac­turer seeks investors

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Busi­ness Reporter

DE­FUNCT Bu­l­awayo-based tyre man­u­fac­turer Auto Tyres Zim­babwe needs about $12 mil­lion work­ing cap­i­tal to re­sus­ci­tate op­er­a­tions, an of­fi­cial has said.

For­merly, Dun­lop Zim­babwe, the gi­ant firm stopped pro­duc­tion at the end of 2016 cit­ing work­ing cap­i­tal and for­eign cur­rency con­straints to pro­cure crit­i­cal raw ma­te­ri­als.

Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe (CZI) Mata­bele­land Chap­ter pres­i­dent, Mr Joseph Gunda, told par­tic­i­pants at a break­fast meet­ing on Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones held in Bu­l­awayo on Wed­nes­day that ef­forts were un­der­way for Auto Tyres Zim­babwe to re­sume pro­duc­tion.

“Dun­lop pro­duced its last tyre I think in De­cem­ber 2016, and they closed shop. They re­quire about $12 mil­lion work­ing cap­i­tal to re­sus­ci­tate op­er­a­tions. And be­cause of the change over in hands a lot has hap­pened as they got into part­ner­ships,” said Mr Gunda.

“I think you can get more de­tails of what’s hap­pen­ing at the com­pany, but a lot has hap­pened.”

Last year, the fi rm was re­ported to have ac­quired mod­ern tyre-mak­ing equip­ment en­vis­aged to go a long way in en­hanc­ing com­pet­i­tive pro­duc­tion once op­er­a­tions re­sume. Un­der a new name, the com­pany was ex­pected to re­sume pro­duc­tion at the be­gin­ning of the year.

“Investors are now re­quired and the $12 mil­lion is now re­quired to kick-start that com­pany,” said Mr Gunda.

An indige­nous com­pany, Zoomway (Pvt) Lim­ited ac­quired 51 per­cent share­hold­ing in Auto Tyres Zim­babwe in April 2016. Pre­vi­ously, the lo­cal tyre pro­ducer was a sub­sidiary of Apollo Tyres. The tyre man­u­fac­turer was seek­ing work­ing cap­i­tal to re­sume op­er­a­tions us­ing a lean pro­duc­tion model that re­duces costs.

At its peak, Dun­lop Zim­babwe used to em­ploy up to 2 000 peo­ple di­rectly with sig­nif­i­cant im­pact down­stream along the value chain. Due to its clo­sure, Zim­babwe is re­ly­ing on im­ported tyres on the back of the demise of lo­cal man­u­fac­tures, and the trend is also con­tribut­ing to the high im­port bill, which the coun­try was grap­pling to con­tain.

It is hoped that the re­vival of the tyre gi­ant would not only re­ju­ve­nate the Bel­mont in­dus­trial site but also cre­ate thou­sands of job op­por tu­nit i e s be­yond the pre­vi­ous em­ploy­ment lev­els.

Be­fore its clo­sure, Dun­lop used to ex­port to coun­tries such as Zam­bia and South Africa. Mean­while, ear­lier in his ad­dress at the break­fast meet­ing, Mr Gunda said the clo­sure of Zisco and the scal­ing down of op­er­a­tions at the city’s largest em­ployer, the Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe among other com­pa­nies has crip­pling in­dus­trial ac­tiv­ity over the years.

Be fore the mas­sive d e - i n du s t r i a - li­sa­tion, Bu­l­awayo once the coun­try’s in­dus­trial hub, housed h e a d qu a r t e r s of large com­pa­nies in the min­ing, engi­neer­ing, and tex­tile sec­tors. Such firms in­cluded the Zim­babwe Engi­neer­ing Com­pany (Zeco), Hu­bert Davies, Radar Metal In­dus­tries, Na­tional Blan­kets and G&D Shoes among oth­ers.

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