Despite Covid-19 induced challenges affecting businesses across sectors, Powerspeed Electrical says individual home projects have presented brisk business opportunities for the company.
Powerspeed is one of Zimbabwe’s leading retailers of construction building materials, through Electrosales Hardware, whose branches are dotted across the country.
Stakeholders in the real estate sector also say good business in the residential segment across the country is being driven, especially by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.
Demand on the domestic market has also been strong on account of massive housing development projects being undertaken in the country.
Although there has been supply chain disruptions and depressed economic activity since March 2020 when Covid-19 was first detected in Zimbabwe, Powerspeed has seen a volume increase for the year to September 30, 2021, driven by among other factors demand from the individual home development segment.
“Zimbabwe has the attribute and fortune of a national culture of investing in new homes, and home improvement. This culture constantly brings customers to our sector, and our business.
“We strive to support this culture, by offering a broad range of value for money home development and home improvement products,” said chairman Dr Simba Makoni in a performance review for the year.
“The past twelve months have continued to be extremely challenging. The Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions remained hugely disruptive.
“Despite the above difficulties, the group had a reasonably good year, with volumes traded increasing, compared to prior year.
“Investment in inventory and improved quality of our branch network, drove this growth, and helped us increase our market share,” he said.
The positive performance was also supported by improvements in branch network. In November 2020, Electrosales Hardware opened its twentieth branch in the Bulawayo central business district while the Mutare branch was re-located into significantly bigger and better premises in November 2021.
The year was however, characterised by challenges emanating from the Covid-19 pandemic such as reduced operating hours and travel restrictions with local suppliers unable to meet demand, which affected the business.
Additionally, foreign suppliers increased their lead times substantially, and there have been significant increases in US Dollar prices, in line with global price increases.
The period also witnessed increases in cost of freight while transit times at ports of entry, notably Beitbridge and Forbes border posts, further compounded the situation.
Said Dr Makoni: “Unfortunately, restrictions, regulations and disruptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, caused great difficulties in our operations.
“Reduced operating hours meant trying to do more in less time, exposing both staff and customers to increased risk.
“Travel and gathering restrictions seriously hampered our training programmes. Although some of these were replaced by online or virtual training, this was not as effective as face to face sessions.”
The group however, invested in stock and systems that enabled them to make record numbers of line items available in all stores, which undoubtedly, contributed to the increased throughput.
According to Dr Makoni, the engineering division had a reasonable year, during which it increased the volume of products manufactured for and sold by Electrosales, there-by making a modest contribution to group profitability.
However, with effect from the end of September 2021, this division was sold to Capital Laser Engineering, a focused engineering entity, which plans to invest in, and grow the business.
“We are working with the new owners to ensure the success of the business, which will continue as an important supplier to Electrosales,” added Dr Makoni.