Wilson Dakwa, Business Reporter
BULAWAYO-BASED wholesaler, Fortwell Wholesale has set sights on expanding its product range next year as it forges ahead to become a one-stop-shop for consumers.
Fortwell Wholesale general manager corporate services Ms Hannerietta Choga said the wholesaler had no immediate plans to open more branches but envisages increasing its product lines.
“Our biggest project for 2018 will be to increase our product range. At the moment, we are strictly dealing with fast consumer goods but we would like to take a shift to add more in terms of variety and our goal is to become a one stop shop for consumers.
“We are not immediately planning to open other branches but we are trying to have a variety of products. We want to expand, not necessarily by adding branches for now, but in terms of the product line and with increased numbers comes people and employment creation,” she said.
Ms Choga said the wholesaler has not been spared the myriad of challenges facing players in the country’s retail sector.
Of note there has been an erosion of consumer buying power, which has been caused by increasing unemployment over the years, which is not likely to improve anytime soon due to a worsening economy characterised by company closures and a persistent liquidity crisis.
Retailers have suffered from the erosion of disposable incomes and are failing to grow under the current economic situation culminating in their buying power at wholesales also being depleted.
“In terms of products, we haven’t been spared from the retailer challenges in the nation. However, the support we have received over the years from the market has been fair as we managed to expand in 2012,” she said.
Ms Choga said the wholesaler has always embraced the Buy Zimbabwe concept since its inception as part of its efforts to promote downstream employment.
“Buying of local products by customers is very important because it creates employment in the economy. We embraced the Buy Zimbabwe initiative from the time when the campaign began and with the current situation, we can only buy locally produced products,” she said.
Buy Zimbabwe is a campaign which encourages Zimbabweans to buy products made and grown locally. The campaign has a thrust to unlock the country’s economic potential through aggressive support of the production and consumption of local goods and services.
In past reports, analysts said if carefully implemented, the Buy Zimbabwe campaign will assist in economic revival.
The Buy Zimbabwe initiative also complements Government’s efforts to revive industries through policies such as Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016.
Fortwell Wholesale has invested about $3 million in the last two years to grow its business and expand its footprint.
The company has three branches in Bulawayo and one in Victoria Falls and has been operational since 1985 and employs about 250 workers.