The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
HIGH production costs and lack of innovation to dislodge internationally recognised brands continues to affect most local companies’ competitiveness on the export market.
A number of companies’ representatives that attended the first session of the two-day ZimTrade Marketing and Branding for International Competitiveness (MBIC) training workshop in Bulawayo on Thursday lamented that their prospects of realising profits from exports were being hampered mostly by spiralling production costs.
The workshop drew participants from the building and construction, engineering, processed foods, clothing and textiles as well as leather products sectors. Haggie Rand Zimbabwe sales manager Mr Amos Zinhanga said the closure of Ziscosteel had a negative impact on the company’s business as it was forced to rely on exporting its strategic raw materials from South Africa.
“After the closure of Ziscosteel we lost sourcing of raw materials, hence most of our regional and international clients opted for the Chinese products, which are cheaper basically because of the inferior material they are made of,” said Mr Zinhanga.
Haggie Rand manufactures and supplies steel wire, steel wire rope and fencing products. National Metal Founder and Engineers administration and finance manager Mr Tirivacho Tarubuda said the company has since abandoned exports and was concentrating on meeting local demand.
“The materials we use are very expensive to import in these harsh economic conditions and we have resorted to selling our products locally in preparatory mood to resume exports upon the turnaround of the country’s economy. As it is now, Chinese and Indian metal products have taken a large chunk of the local market because they are cheaper compared to ours despite the fact that we use superior materials,” said Mr Tarubuda.
Rubber Products Manufactures sales and marketing manager Mr Hope Hogo said the company’s exports have been confined in the region as it was failing to meet international standards to enable it to penetrate overseas markets.
“As we all know the economy has affected us just like any other company and of course failure to meet international standards has been a challenge that we face in the rubber industry, therefore this makes it very hard for us to export.
“We have had to deal with the regional markets whereby we export our rubber products to countries like Namibia and Zambia among others. This ZimTrade workshop is an eye opener for us as we seek to acquire the requisite expertise on how to up our game on the exports market,” said Ms Hogo.
The ZimTrade associate trainer Mr Dennis Choguya said poor market research and lack of Competitive Intelligence (CI) was the major hindrance affecting numerous companies from exploring export markets.
“Many market failures exist in international marketing and the biggest reason is poor marketing due to lack of market research by various companies in the different sectors. CI does not only bolster the company’s profitability but also maximises business opportunities and also protects the intellectual property,” said Mr Choguya.
He encouraged companies to produce unique and trade marked products to prevent unfair competition from other players.
Mr Choguya made presentations on Foundations for Export Marketing, Market Opportunity Analysis, Differentiation and the value proposition and CI. Lobels Biscuits, Prestige Leathers, Hardwoods for Africa and Justine Clothing were among the companies that were represented at the workshop.