Imperial Logistics targets ‘big’ opportunities in Africa

By Roy Cokayne Time of article published Aug 24, 2018

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JOHANNESBURG - Imperial Logistics, which is set to be separately listed from Imperial Holdings’ automotive business in the fourth quarter of this year, is targeting huge growth opportunities in Africa.

Motus, the motor business, also plans to expand its foreign operations.

Marius Swanepoel, the chief executive of Imperial Logistics, said this week that there were massive opportunities for expansion in both West Africa and East Africa.

Imperial’s African Logistics business has over the past eight years grown from zero into a business with an annual turnover of R10 billion.

Swanepoel said pharmaceuticals formed the largest part of its business in Africa but there were still a lot of opportunities to grow this business in Nigeria and Ghana.

Imperial Logistics last year acquired 70% of Kenya-based pharmaceutical distributor Surgipharm for R500million in line with its African growth strategy.

Swanepoel said Surgipharm was acquired to facilitate their growth into other East African countries, such as Uganda, Cameroon and Rwanda.

He added that Imperial Logistics did not have any interests in French West Africa and was looking at opportunities in this area as well, while its consumer packaged goods business was only operating in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and would definitely expand to take advantage of opportunities in West Africa and East Africa.

Swanepoel said the managed solutions business, which was involved in transportation and warehousing, had also entered the Nigerian market.

“There are massive opportunities for growth. Normally we look for acquisitions and use our expertise to grow acquisitions.

“But in Nigeria there aren't any managed solutions businesses to buy so we are doing a greenfields operation, which we don’t normally do,” he said.

Swanepoel said Imperial Logistics would get higher growth in Africa than its other operations but it was from a lower base.

He said internationally they were also focusing on growth but this would be driven by acquisitions largely related to international freight management.

“We will also be taking our expertise on the automotive and chemical side and use it in other emerging markets, especially in Eastern Europe,” he said.

Ockert Janse van Rensburg, the acting chief executive of Motus, Imperial’s motor business, said 87% of the operating profit of the business came from South Africa and that would not change dramatically, even if they made acquisitions in the short term.

Van Rensburg said the contribution to operating profit from the rest of the world would probably settle at between 20-25%. He said they had owned a vehicle dealership in the Sydney market in Australia and had complemented that with a recent acquisition in Melbourne.

Motus acquired SWT Group, which operates 16 dealerships, for R261m in October last year.

In the UK, it acquired Pentagon Motor Holdings, which operates 38 passenger and light commercial vehicle franchises from 21 prime retail dealerships in the country, for R371million in September last year.

Mohammed Akoojee, the acting chief executive of Imperial Holdings, said they could take their expertise into both of these markets and any innovations in those industries would first get into the UK market, allowing Motus to learn from that best practice for the benefit of its business in South Africa.

Akoojee stressed that Motus was not just a normal vehicle dealership business but unique in that its model was more vertically integrated, with the benefits flowing from its importation and distributorship activities giving it a competitive edge.

Imperial earlier this week reported a 27% growth in headline earnings from June last year to June this year.


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