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Kenya’s Eveready courts Pakistani firm for turnaround

By Moses Michira | October 16th 2015

NAIROBI: Eveready has started selling biro pens and pencils manufactured by a Pakistani company in its plans to return to profitability. The writing materials are among the new product lines that the former battery maker unveiled Thursday, in addition to car batteries and lighting bulbs.

Eveready Managing Director Jackson Mutua said his firm was a distribution company that hopes to grow its revenues through partnerships with manufacturers. “We are now a distribution firm... and project that the new business lines should help grow our revenues in the double-digit,” Mr Mutua said after signing up Sayyed Engineers, the Pakistani firm, Thursday.

Sayyed Engineers Managing Director Savail Hussain projects that a combination of ‘lower price and higher quality’ could help in breaking into the market. “We are aware that there are other players in this market but our approach is providing a higher quality at a lower price,” Hussain said, in expressing his optimism about the new partnership.

During his market research that preceded the launch of the partnership Thursday, Hussain said fake products- supposedly produced by his company were netted. “We were able to net counterfeit pens in a swoop even before we entered the market,” he said conceding that fakes were a big problem, beyond just Kenya.

Haco Tiger Brands – associated with billionaire Chris Kirubi, has a firm grip in the writing materials segment through the Bic range of pens. Mutua announced his firm had signed up a distribution partnership with Chloride Egypt to market and sell car batteries branded as Turbo. Eveready is also the agent for global firms such as Schick and Energizer range of dry cells.

High manufacturing costs and cheap imports led to the discontinuation of the dry cell making in Nakuru. Mutua disclosed that a prospective buyer had been found for the factory and equipment of the obsolete plant but did not give an indication whether a buying price had been struck. “It has to be a reasonable price,” said Mutua.

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