Lafarge Zim hires new chief as it battles to steady market share

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Business Report

Lafarge Zimbabwe has appointed a new chief executive to take charge of the company as it battles to steady market share in light of growing imports and rising competition from local rivals in a liquidity parched market.

Kaziwe Siame Kaulule’s appointment as new chief executive took effect this month as he replaces Amal Naiel, who left Lafarge Zimbabwe “to pursue other personal interests” having been in charge of the company for five years.

The government of President Emerson Mnangagwa has relaxed import restrictions on products such as cement as local companies battle to sustain productivity and meet demand in light of foreign currency shortages.

This has raised competition for Lafarge Zimbabwe, which also has to face up to bigger rival, PPC Zimbabwe and Chinese- backed producer, Sino Cement Zimbabwe.

“He has a track record of achieving operational excellence while supervising cement, aggregates and ready-mix teams in highly competitive markets, said Lafarge Zimbabwe of its new chief executive on Thursday.

A Zambian national, Kaulule joins the Zimbabwean Lafarge unit from Lafarge Holcim in the UK where he was general manager for retail and has previously served as executive in other European and African markets for the company.

A board member at Lafarge said Kaulule has been tasked to stabilise market share for the company and to grow it in the next few years.

He, however, faces a hard task given the economic difficulties in Zimbabwe.

“We believe he will rise up to the challenge and grow the company in the next two to three years.

“We need to grow our market share and there are some expansion projects when the right time comes that will help the company achieve this.

“Zimbabwe is a tricky market at the moment and his experience and previous achievements will be valuable for the company,” said the board member.

Kaulule is not a stranger to the Zimbabwe market dynamics as he has previously served as regional marketing director for the southern Africa cluster that encompasses Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.

Lafarge Zimbabwe chairperson, Kumbirai Katsande, said recently that plant stability and reliability for its cement and kiln manufacturing operations in Zimbabwe “remains at the mercy of improved forex releases” from the government to pay for imports.

He further highlighted that “delays in foreign payments could seriously impact plant operations” and supplies.