By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange listed stationary, paper and batteries manufacturer, Amalgamated Regional Trading (ART) Corporation has seen exports increasing by 13 % amid easing exchange rate volatility on the backdrop of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) foreign exchange auction system.
Presenting the financial performance for the year ended September 30 2020, the company’s chairperson, Thomas Wushe said both the firm’s sales volumes and exports registered growth.
“The introduction of the foreign currency auction and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions helped to manage exchange rate volatility and trade disruptions. Export volumes were 3 percentage points ahead of last year despite pricing challenges emanating from instability of the regional currencies,” he said.
During the period under review, overall volumes for the year increased by 8% compared to prior year.
In June this year, the RBZ scrapped the Interbank market system in favour of the auction system which had failed to stabilise exchange rates market alongside the implementation of a raft of measures which barred Ecocash Agent lines after years of abuse by illegal foreign currency dealers.
Since the auction’s inception, prices have remained stable with most companies reporting a predictable operating environment.
During the financial year, ART’s batteries business segment continued to drive the group’s performance with battery volumes increasing by 17% for the year.
The paper mill production volumes improved marginally towards year end on the back of improved power and raw materials. However, demand remained weak and volumes fell by 37% compared to the same period last year.
Softex tissue volumes declined by 20% from prior year because of reduced disposable incomes and inconsistent supply of cheaper recycled bulk tissue. The contribution of non-tissue lines increased to 18% of total sales as the product range was widened.
Eversharp pen volumes were 33% lower than prior year as schools remained closed during the period while Timber sales volumes for the year increased by 37% as a result of improved milling efficiencies and firm demand.
“The measures taken to stabilize the exchange rate and improve foreign currency availability by the fiscal and monetary authorities will improve trading conditions and enable the business to continue with its plans to seek new opportunities and enhance capacity to meet demand in the region,” Wushe added.