Ornate lobby of The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel after it underwent renovations.[Peter Muturi,Standard]

Left with more time in their hands during the Covid-19 lockdowns, many homeowners took up the paintbrush and redecorated their homes.

This retouch that included structures around homesteads such as fences is partly credited for helping local paint makers record brisk business during a period when many sectors took a dip.

Kansai Plascon Kenya is one of the paint manufacturers that recorded a surge in sales.

Customer Service Manager Noela Fafali said a lot of enquiries, purchases and deliveries were made over the year since the pandemic started, contrary to what many would have thought.

“These customers, even as they work at home, are still painting their houses and doing renovations,” she said.

“People had time on their hands to finish projects whether in the homestead or building site. I think the construction industry, at the cement, steel and paint level, coped very well and didn’t see the market fall away.”

Ms Fafali added that they projected the same this year. “It’s positive for an industry that’s constantly been fed negative news that things aren’t going very well.”

Another large firm, Crown Paints, recorded an 85.6 per cent growth in earnings in 2020, with profits hitting Sh599.5 million from Sh323 million in 2019 due to higher sales.

“It was a good year for us. Instead of getting bored, people were painting their homes as they focused on renovations during this time,” said Group Chief Executive Rakesh Rao.

He said the industry was coming from a more traditional system to a modern one where people increasingly paint for themselves in small projects without heavy reliance on professionals.

“What we’ve been trying to make sure is that at our showrooms, people are getting more knowledge about the products and innovations. We are coming from traditional painting systems to more of lifestyle now,” he said.

The positive vibes come despite intensified competition in the paints market.

Four years ago, Japanese paint and coatings manufacturer Kansai Paint acquired Sadolin Paints East Africa in a deal worth over $100 million (Sh10.8 billion) to form Kansai Plascon Kenya.

The giant firm was seeking a slice of the lucrative paints business across East Africa dominated by firms such as Crown Paints and Basco Products, the manufacturer of the DuraCoat brand.

Crown, with a monthly production capacity of up to five million litres, controls over 60 per cent market share.

Fafali said being part of a global giant gives them competitive muscle through exposing the local business to new products, research and technical facilities.

This has seen their production capacity rise to an average of 850,000 litres monthly.

The intense competition has spurred innovative products such as waterproof and anti-mosquito paints.

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