Savanna tobacco, which produces cigarette brands Pacific, has also caught the eye of international cigarette producers. Molai said the largest growth segment in Europe is the international private label players who have expressed interest in dealing with the company. He intimated that big European tobacco players have approached the company to produce on their behalf after noting the company’s exceptional performance on the market.
“Savanna is still in its gestation period. It will actually be born next year as an expansion and market consolidation exercise is currently underway,” said Molai, adding that the company was aiming to push volumes in the range of 3,2 billion cigarette sticks by the end of the year. Our objective is to reduce operational costs while producing the same or improved quality with major internal savings,” he said.
Last year Savanna manufactured over 2,6 billion cigarettes. Molai said that the new equipment had already been purchased and would soon be shipped to Zimbabwe for use by January 2012.
Savanna Tobacco last year invested US$600 000 towards plant optimisation in an endeavor to reduce overhead costs and substantially improve throughput.
“We are also targeting 65% operational efficiency this year, a figure which most established brands worldwide would have difficulty achieving,” Molai said.
The current plant, valued at well over (Euro) 2,5 million (about US$3,6 million) inclusive of quality control equipment, produces up to 8 000 cigarettes a minute, translating into 1 600 boxes of packed cigarettes per day.
Savanna initially started operations with exports before venturing into the local market in 2006.
The company’s main export brand, Pacific Blue has a presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Lesotho.
“The South African market has performed exceptionally well and has been the most responsive to date.
“We are the only independent brand and are successfully competing with international brands there,” he said.
Sales and marketing manager Onias Gweru expressed satisfaction with the quality of tobacco that the floors are delivering.
“We have witnessed phenomenal growth and market support partly as a result of the excellent quality of tobacco we use to make our cigarettes,” Gweru said.