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Zambian multinational extends its footprint to new markets

Zambeef General Manager in Ghana Lufeyo Nkhoma

Zambeef General Manager in Ghana Lufeyo Nkhoma

Zambeef Products has set its sights on further expansion of its West African operations, confirming its position as Zambia’s leading multinational conglomerate.

The agribusiness company has subsidiaries in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, and Ghana, both of which are overseen by Zambian nationals, and generate profit that is remitted back to Zambia.

“Zambeef is a Zambian company; it is also a Zambian multinational – possibly the only one of its kind that is based in Zambia and leveraging our home-grown expertise to tap into the colossal West African market,” said Zambeef Chief Executive Francis Grogan. “This strategy means we can capitalise on our strengths while broadening our revenue base and diversifying our market exposure.”

Such a strategy aims to grow the group’s profitability for the benefit of shareholders, employees and Zambian government tax collection, he added.

Head of Processing in Nigeria Clement Mulenga

Head of Processing in Nigeria Clement Mulenga

Zambeef operates 11 retail butchery outlets in Nigeria, with a further three scheduled to open before the end of the year and an additional six next year, along with three stores in Ghana and a fourth due to open before the end of the year.

The operations in West Africa employ more than 200 people including Head of Processing in Nigeria Clement Mulenga and General Manager in Ghana Lufeyo Nkhoma.

With a population of 170 million, Nigeria is the largest country in Africa by population, and the seventh largest in the world. In addition to its retail business there, Zambeef has an abattoir outside the commercial capital of Lagos, along with a farm and feedlot, and is involved in the slaughtering, processing, distribution and retailing of beef, pork and chicken. In Ghana Zambeef runs three butcheries and a meat processing plant.

Zambeef’s West Africa divisions accounted for 4 percent of group revenue and 3 percent of gross profit in the financial year to September 30, 2012, equivalent to turnover of US$13 million (around K70 million) and an increase of 55 percent of the previous year’s figure.

Zambeef General Manager in Ghana Lufeyo Nkhoma

Zambeef General Manager in Ghana Lufeyo Nkhoma

In the first six months of the 2013 financial year those operations had a turnover of US$7.7m and that figure was expected to exceed US$16m for the full financial year.

Forty-four-year-old Clement Mulenga manages Zambeef’s MasterMeats subsidiary in Nigeria, where he is responsible for training new staff, introducing modern butchery techniques, internal controls and regulation as well as meat processing.

“If you love the job, then you will do it great. This has been my slogan ever since I have been working with Zambeef. I still enjoy my work and this is my life,” said Mr Mulenga. “The positive thing about working overseas is the experience gained, education on the butchery operations, and that has gone along way and people can appreciate that now.”

Mr Mulenga became an expatriate in Nigeria in May 2009, having visited the country on secondment for three months in the previous year. Prior to that he was Regional Manager for Zambeef’s Northern region operations in Zambia for four years.

The third-born son in a family of eight, he was born and brought up in Lusaka and attended Kafue Boys Secondary School before studying sales and purchasing part-time in Kitwe. He is happily married to Modester Zulu Mulenga and they have four children, the first- born son and three daughters.

He started work in 1994 with the then Chibote Meat Corporation in Chongwe and joined Zambeef the following year when the first Shoprite store was opened in Lusaka, working there as a butchery assistant before joining the team in Ndola with the opening of second Shoprite store. In 1996 he was made Zambeef’s Assistant Butchery Manager at the third Shoprite store in Kitwe, and then promoted to Butchery Manager, assisting as new stores were opened.

But Mr Mulenga’s experience is broad. In 1997 he acted as Abattoir Manager in Mongu for eight months, and then in 1998 he was Operations Manager overseeing the establishment of Zambeef’s depot in Kitwe, before moving back into Shoprite stores as a Senior Manager and Training Manager in 1999, stationed at Manda Hill.

Meanwhile, Rapheal Lufeyo Nkhoma is General Manager for Zambeef’s Ghana operations, where he oversees the day-to-day running of the business, imparting the extensive training he has gained in Zambia to the Ghanaian staff with the aim of “changing the meat game in Ghana”.

Mr Nkhoma grew up in Lusaka and is a Grade 12 school-leaver with a Certificate in Laboratory Techniques from the University of Zambia’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He is married with five children: four boys and one girl, and now lives in Ghana with his family.

He joined Zambeef in 1996 as a sausage maker at the Cairo Road Shoprite outlet and was then promoted to Butchery Manager in charge of Shoprite in Mongu before being transferred as Manager in charge of Ndola, Kitwe and Manda Hill Shoprite stores, and Nigeria operations.

“The positive things about working overseas are many: meeting different people with different cultures, the food, traditions; learning about new countries and in the process opening up ones understanding of different things in one’s life in general. There are also a lot of challenges and difficulties in working overseas including language, foods, weather, traditions, and sometimes loneliness,” said Mr Nkhoma.

Together Mr Mulenga and Mr Nkhoma are at the forefront of Zambeef’s expansion in Africa, leading the way in difficult markets with the aim of applying home-grown Zambian experience and expertise to the business.

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