JOHANNESBURG Feb 23 South African drinks
company Distell, which makes Savanna cider and cream
liqueur Amarula, has started producing canned drinks in Angola,
the company's chief executive said on Thursday.
Angola is Distell's largest export market in Africa but
sales have fallen sharply there as a decline in oil revenues and
lower economic growth have limited the availability of foreign
exchange and hit Angolan consumers.
"We've just started up local production of cans in Angola
and that investment will be followed up by bottle production
before the calendar year is out," Chief Executive Richard
Rushton told Reuters in an interview.
Distell spent about $20 million to build the plant, which
will produce about 10 million litres a year initially. The
company plans to use cashflow from sales in the local kwanza
currency to expand production to bottled drinks and gradually
replace more and more of its exports to Angola.
The company, which makes wine, brandy, cider and
ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic drinks, had previously only
served Angola with beverages exported from South Africa.
"At one point we had more than 200 million litres of volume
of our RTDs in the country and we are down to a third of volume
or even lower," said Rushton, adding that a dearth of foreign
exchange, import curbs and rising taxes worsened the decline.
Distell hopes to build its exports to Angola back up to 200
million litres and then increase the volume of sales there
through local manufacturing.
The company reported headline earnings per share of 535.9
cents for the half-year to end-December on Thursday, up 1.2
percent on a year earlier.
Headline earnings per share is the main profit measure in
South Africa and strips out certain one-off items.
(Reporting by TJ Strydom; editing by James Macharia and David