Tag: growth

Source: Supermarket & Retailer 

The “latest month” (5 weeks ending 3 April 2022) shows sales of R53-billion representing a 10.1% month increase versus the same period last year.

This data emanates from NielsenIQ’s Market Track the largest retail (grocery) data source in the country and the only currency used by all South Africa’s major retailers.

This benchmark data comprises more than 10 000 branded retail outlets (e.g. supermarkets and garage forecourts) and more than 143 000 independent stores (e.g. spazas and taverns) across South Africa’s nine provinces and measures more than 80% of all retail grocery transactions.

Private label pounces

Total Private Label (retailer own brands) sales are now bigger than the two largest manufacturers in South Africa. This is borne out by NielsenIQ analysis which shows that the private label sector now commands 15% of all grocery sales in South Africa.

This equates to R77-billion in annual sales (12-months to 3 April 2022) and saw 8.6% growth in March 2022.

Inflation nation

Rising inflation has become a hallmark of the COVID-19 era and has been exacerbated by the ‘perfect’ storm of the war in Ukraine and most recently the floods in KwaZulu-Natal – a key South African manufacturing and logistics hub.

Annual consumer price inflation rose to 5.9% in March – from 5.7% in February – placing it just below the upper limit (6%) of the South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy target range.

Transport, housing and utilities and food and non-alcoholic beverages were the most significant contributors, with transport contributing 2.1 percentage points to the annual rate. Fuel prices rose by an eye-watering 33.2% in the twelve months to March with petrol prices climbing by 32.6% and diesel by 35.1%.

Cooking oil prices on a slippery slope

Indonesia’s decision to suspend palm oil exports in the face of domestic shortages has pushed vegetable oil prices to new highs. The prices of palm, soybean, European rapeseed and even its Canadian GMO counterpart, canola oil, have also reached historic highs.

“Given that vegetable oil is a raw ingredient in a wide range of products, varying from prepared meals to personal care, we are likely to see a negative knock-on effect of rising oil input costs,” says Nooy.

NielsenIQ data shows that South African cooking oil sales figures have unsurprisingly experienced a massive increase of 21% over the last year (52% during the past month). It has also experienced the highest price increases amongst the top 20 products measured in its data panel.

As a result, the rate of price inflation on cooking oil is currently double that of the next category.

In addition, an in-store average shelf price check by NielsenIQ revealed that the average price of cooking oil was R42.76 per litre the week before the war in Ukraine started (20 Feb) and is now R54.70 per litre (vs the latest week 1 May) which represents an increase of R11.94 per litre.

Top products

Beer is South Africa’s number one FMCG product category in terms of sales and has experienced significant growth over the last 12 months, while soft drinks are down from the number one position, having experienced 8% annual growth and 12% in the last month.

Cigarettes are the third largest product category has grown by 63% over the last 12 months and 8% in the 5 weeks ending 3 April 2022. NielsenIQ South Africa MD Ged Nooy cautions it’s important to view the data in context.

“The globally unprecedented prohibition on the sale of liquor and cigarettes during the 2020 and 2021 COVID-19 lockdowns in South Africa have resulted in those sectors experiencing high growth rates off previous low, and in certain months, nil bases.”

The only product in the Top 10 displaying negative sales figures is sugar; sales of which have declined by 2% over the last year.

Adding to this bitter pill is that the South African Cane Growers Association reports that the local sugar industry has lost more than R223-million after the unprecedented floods in April 2022 that caused damage to thousands of hectares of cane crops.

Keeping a lid on it

Long Life Milk and Instant Coffee sales are currently experiencing flat sales and low inflation. This follows a boom in sales of these items during South Africa’s lockdowns when consumers were primarily working from home and were stocking up on these items, instead of the coffee breaks they would normally take at their offices.

Now that consumers have moved to a hybrid working model, or returned to the office full time, sales have plateaued. The Beverage category has also only experienced a 2% price increase.

This category has been able to curb price increases thus far due to a decision by Government to delay an increase in the sugar tax. There have also been considerable pack dynamics at play with consumers shifting pack sizes as opposed to forgoing their favourite cooldrink, for example.

Nooy points out; “The retail sector has benefited from South Africa’s successive lockdowns. This stems from consumers prioritising in-home consumption, such as home-office related snacks and beverages and homemade meals, as opposed to out of home dining at restaurants.

“Government support measures including social relief grants have also contributed to boosting spending in the retail sector.

“However, the next 12 months will be interesting as the retail sector returns to normalised sales with the inclusion of liquor and cigarette revenue back into the mix which will allow for real year on year growth measurement and show a clearer picture of the true state of retail in South Africa,” says Nooy.

By Conrad Onyango for How We Made It In Africa

Africa’s increasing population of school-going children, together with millions joining the job market every year, is significantly growing the demand for writing materials and other forms of stationery – creating a multi-billion-dollar opportunity.

By 2050, Africa’s total population is projected to reach 2.5-billion. Half of this population will be aged below 25 years of age, according to United Nations projections – and of that 50% of the population, a large percentage will be in different levels of education or just starting out in the job market.

That is set to create a huge demand for stationery goods on the continent, which will affect world markets, according to a report.

The Africa Stationery Market report by market information advisory, 6Wresearch, projects that the continent’s stationery consumption will reach a value of over $5-billion by 2027.

According to the report, the fast-growing education sector in Africa as well as upscale commercial sector investment will push up demand for writing materials – cut paper, writing implements, envelopes, continuous form paper – and other office supplies like printers and computers.

Education though represents 60% of overall sector demand in Africa and, though the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed demand with schools being forced to close, the report believes the sector will rebound by the end of this year.

In 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) put primary school enrolment in Africa at over 80%, with this number expected to escalate in the race to achieve education for all by 2030. Kenya, for instance, is ramping up efforts to ensure 100% transition rates from primary to secondary schools.

The Africa Stationery Market report also shows that the rise in commercial office spaces will drive demand for the wide stationery basket that also contains markers, staplers, sticky notes, highlighters and sticky tapes.

The spiralling demand for paper-based stationery is also set to offer brisk business for Africa’s paper-producing markets.

South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, Algeria and Morocco are among key players in this segment. Countries like Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Ghana, though small producers, also stand to gain through increased production capacities of their mills.

 

Digital innovation is faster than ever

By Given Majola for IOL

In an ongoing effort to encourage digital innovation by large enterprises, small and medium enterprises (SME’s), as well as to encourage innovation on a broader scale within South Africa, BCX has announced the launch of its first Digital Innovation Report 2022.

BCX chief executive Jonas Bogoshi said the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic was that everyone was trying to solve problems never experienced before.

“At first it was for survival and business continuity, and later for some, it led to considerations for the future. It is without a doubt that digital technologies and digital innovation will play a big part of that future,” Bogoshi said.

World markets have experienced rapid technological changes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in pursuit of economic revival. He said the pandemic presented South Africa and much of the developing world with increased challenges, which seemed insurmountable. It had, however, also provided opportunities that must be seized if people were to rebuild the economy and remain competitive within a technologically driven global market.

The recently launched report includes a body of knowledge that outlines current trends and the status of digital innovation in South Africa, at both a micro and macro level. It provides an in depth look at subjects such as global and local trends in innovation, technologies that are fuelling digital innovation, especially in retail.

Regarding the retail sector, the report suggested that digital innovation has had a massive impact on this sector. In 2019, South Africa’s online retail space (or e-commerce industry) was still in its infancy, accounting for only 1.4 percent of total retail spend. However, the onset of the Covid–19 pandemic brought about nationwide lockdowns and restrictions to the movement of consumers.

Retailers needed to reform their business models to attract customers without the enticements of shopping malls. It pushed the pace of change into hyperdrive. The pandemic served as a launchpad for digital innovation, with an increased uptake in e-commerce from online retail and click-and-collect to video streaming. South Africa saw a 50 to 70 percent growth in e-commerce last year.

Similar insights were presented on critical sectors of the economy, such as Banking, Healthcare, and Insurance, amongst others. There were ten case studies included in the report of local companies depicting their journey to success with digital innovation.

“We are at a critical period of our economy – most countries are still reeling from the fourth wave of Covid-19 and are focused on their future sustainability. The world’s larger economies are picking up speed based on substantial stimulus packages and an incredible pace of digital innovation. We are playing catch-up and must act if we are to compete, ” Bogoshi said.

According to the report, South Africa has, however, greatly increased its adoption of digital technologies over the past 18 months. Although digital innovation and transformation have been priorities for South African organisations for a number of years, the Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the importance of digital innovation to ‘survival level’. The report cites a study indicating 79 percent of organisations in South Africa had fast-tracked digital transformation programmes by the end of 2020.

The BCX report said a positive aspect of Covid-19 had been the impetus it created for digital innovation, which was never experienced before in modern history. From the way people worked and the way bought groceries, to the way they received healthcare and carried out their jobs, the necessity for less physical contact had opened a gateway for digital innovation from which they stood to benefit for decades to come.

Bogoshi said: “The BCX Digital Innovation report 2022 highlights the opportunities that our current circumstances present for large-scale transformation of South Africa through digital innovation. It should be an inclusive journey, ultimately leading to benefits for all, whilst limiting the negative impacts of rapid changes we will most likely continue to experience for years to come.”

Sales budgets tipped for 2022 increase

Source: Gartner

Seventy-three percent of chief sales officers (CSOs) expect sales budgets to increase by an average of 16.9% in 2022, according to Gartner, Inc. A Gartner survey of 67 CSOs in 2H 2021 identified the top three investment areas to be sales enablement, digital marketing and sales operations programs.

“CSOs are adjusting their expanding budgets in 2022 to become better prepared for what could be foundational shifts in the way sales teams and buyers fundamentally interact,” said Betsy Gregory-Hosler, Senior Director, Research in the Gartner Sales practice. “For example, CSOs and sales teams are now partially or fully funding activities traditionally owned by marketing, leading into an unprecedented time of spending within these functions.”

Besides most CSOs anticipating increased investment in sales enablement, the following categories will also see an increase in spending in 2022:

  • Digital first investments: The pandemic accelerated B2B buyers’ exposure to, and comfort with, using digital commerce platforms for large, complex purchases as well as smaller deals. In a more virtual environment, most CSOs recognise the importance of digital marketing.
  • Analytical thinking: CSOs plan to invest in sales operations, with sales analytics a key priority. Over half of the CSOs Gartner surveyed identified sales analytics, a key element of sales operations programs, as a priority for organisational success.
  • Technological advancements: After protecting technology budgets in 2021, CSOs continue to prioritise tech investments moving in 2022. CSOs plan to increase investment in sales technology, prioritising pipeline generation, CRM data, and training and coaching use cases.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed B2B buying behaviours,” said Robert Lesser, Director, Advisory in the Gartner Sales practice. “With buyers opening themselves up to more virtual experiences in conjunction with a mixed outlook for conferences and in-person events, it is clear that the shift to digital will not be short-lived.”

While budgets may be increasing, the planning process is still crucial to guide upcoming investments and achieve the greatest commercial impact. Sales leaders should consider the following with the flexibility that an increase in spending can bring:

Understand major B2B buying and selling trends and how they are changing the path to growth: CSOs must understand how three major trends – digital buying, virtual selling and emerging technologies – are rewriting what it takes to succeed in B2B sales to invest ahead of the curve.

Benchmark budget against peers to strengthen business cases: Effective benchmarking helps sales leaders build business cases, defend budgets and make data-backed strategic decisions.

Ensure sales enablement and operations leaders are equipped to optimise new investments: Sales enablement leaders need a planning process to assess sales enablement program effectiveness, align the various sales enablement programs to the sales strategy and communicate program results.

Caxton shows strong growth

Caxton & CTP Publishers & Printers is hardly tapping vibrant niches with its core business in printing and publishing on the one hand and packaging on the other. But these operations are profitable, churn cash flow and are lean and mean. In fact, Caxton’s share price has doubled over a year.

  • As printing and publishing opportunities crimp, Caxton will look at reinforcing and expanding its packaging niche
  • At the end of the financial year to June the printing and publishing operations generated about R2.94bn — or 66% of group revenue — while the packaging (and stationery) hub generated R2.3bn, or 44% of revenue.
  • At operating profit level (after depreciation and amortisation), printing and publishing managed R336m, the packaging segment R275m
  • These operations generated net cash flows of R568m — equivalent to more than 150c a share
  • At the end of the financial year, Caxton was sitting on nearly R2bn of free cash, equivalent to almost 540c a share
  • Nearly 70% of Caxton’s share price is cash
  • During the reporting period, Caxton made an additional R656m investment in listed packaging business Mpact, where it now has an influential 31.6% shareholding
  • Its investment in Mpact is now worth close to R1.4bn, or equivalent to 376c a share
  • Caxton’s cash pile and its investment in Mpact is alone worth over 900c a share
  • Caxton can extend its commanding position in printing and publishing as smaller operations fall by the wayside, and making decent earnings for years to come
  • The packaging niche will be reinforced, and probably supersede the printing and publishing operations as the bigger earnings contributor
  • Caxton’s smaller “sideline” investments have panned out rather well — the group banked a substantial profit on selling its stakes in Octotel and RSAWeb
  • Officially, Caxton sets its NAV at R17 a share, which means the share price now offers a discount of about 53%. That’s a hard NAV number, with only R85m accounted for as a goodwill

South Africa’s economic growth at 1.2%

By Prinesha Naidoo for Bloomberg

South Africa’s recovery from a coronavirus-induced contraction quickened in the second quarter as restrictions to contain the pandemic were eased.

Gross domestic product expanded 1.2% in the three months through June from a revised 1% in the previous quarter, Statistics South Africa said Tuesday in the capital, Pretoria. The median estimate of four economists in a Bloomberg survey was for growth of 0.9%. The agency no longer reports an annualised growth rate and now uses 2015 as the base year for the data.

South Africa’s economy is slowing recovering from Covid-19 damage

The economy grew 19.3% from a year earlier — the first year-on-year increase in five quarters. That’s up from a low base in the second quarter of 2020, when a strict Covid-19 lockdown shuttered most activity, and compares with the 17.8% median estimate of 14 economists in a separate Bloomberg survey. Output remains below pre-pandemic levels.

While the quarterly outcome supports forecasts that predict Africa’s most industrialised economy will recover from its biggest contraction in at least 27 years, it’s likely to be revised after the statistics agency was forced to use an estimated value for missing mining data. That’s because the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy failed to provide it with timely information needed to calculate mining production and sales figures for June.

The economy is likely to contract in the third quarter after deadly riots, looting and arson erupted in July and weighed on activity in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province and the commercial hub of Gauteng — the two biggest provinces by contribution to GDP. A cyber attack at the state-owned ports and rail operator also hobbled trade at key container terminals and led the company to declare its second force majeure in a month.

“The economy has overall shown itself better at recovering in the past year than initially expected — either at the start of Covid-19 or into this data — but there is still significant uncertainty over the impact the unrest will have in the short term and longer term into lower investments,” said Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex.

Risks to outlook
A fourth wave of Covid-19 infections that’s due in early December and could prompt stricter lockdown measures amid vaccine hesitancy, electricity-supply constraints and the slow pace of structural reforms could further weigh on output for the second half of the year. It could also hinder job creation in a nation where more than a third of the workforce is unemployed.

The second quarter outcome translates to annualised growth of nearly 5%, said Joe de Beer, deputy director-general of economic data at Statistics South Africa. The National Development Plan, the government’s 2012 economic blueprint co-authored by President Cyril Ramaphosa, targeted an annual growth rate of more than 5% for sustainable job creation.

South Africa’s economy is stuck in its longest downward cycle since World War II and hasn’t grown by more than 3% annually since 2012. That’s as a policy paralysis and weak business sentiment weigh on fixed investment spending, with private-sector companies wary to commit large sums of money to domestic projects. Gross fixed capital formation rose 0.9% from the first quarter.

Growth in household spending, which now accounts for about 63% of GDP, increased 0.5% in the second quarter. Data released Monday showed consumer confidence remains depressed and that temporary welfare measures, retrenchment and life insurance payouts are among the factors propping up household finances.

Poor sentiment among consumers and data that shows the economy is not yet “firing more consistently across all sectors” means the central bank is unlikely to raise borrowings this year, Montalto said. The bank’s monetary policy committee is due to announce its next interest-rate decision Sept. 23.

 

Game is Massmart’s biggest problem

Source: Knowledia

A trading update for the first half of the year from Massmart on Friday spooked investors who had been banking on a stronger recovery. The share closed over 9% lower at R54.95, having traded as much as down 11% on the day.

While the headline number seems “satisfactory” – sales are up 4.4% ­– it must be remembered that the group is comparing sales this year to a period last year during which the country was practically shut down for a month, with the level-5 hard lockdown from 27 March through the rest of April. In May, some restrictions were eased, and in June the economy was opened further. Compare the first half of this year to 2019 and sales have dropped 5.7% across the group.

Makro’s R13.7-billion in sales for the 26 weeks are 2.2% higher than the comparable period in 2019. At Builders, sales of R7.2-billion are 7.5% better. The real horror show is in the group’s cash and carry and Cambridge food businesses as well as Game.

Sales at Game were 7.6% lower than the same period last year, with comparable stores sales being 6.9% lower

Total sales in the cash and carry and Cambridge units is down by 9.8%, or R1.4-billion, when compared to the first half of 2019. This decline was led by Cambridge, which the group has been trying to sell for the last six months. Sales in this business, ranked eighth in food retail in the country, are 9.4% lower than last year.

A far bigger problem, however, looms at Game.

Massmart says sales at Game were “7.6% lower than the same period last year, with comparable stores sales being 6.9% lower” — this despite half the period being impacted by lockdown last year. (In South Africa, the decline was 4.6%.)

Compare sales at Game to the first half of 2019 (excluding the impact of lockdown), and although there is some impact of “lost” sales due to the closure of DionWired, these are down 19.1%! Game and Dion Wired were part of Massmart’s former Massdiscounters division.

The R6-billion question (the current value of its 51% stake) is how long Walmart will continue to waste management time – and money – trying to fix Massmart.

Massmart CEO Mitchell Slape has already done the easy work: shutting and selling underperforming stores, fixing retail basics in Game, stripping out large chunks of head office costs (by outsourcing central functions to Walmart suppliers) and securing a R4-billion (soft) loan from Walmart to bolster its balance sheet during a Covid-19 impacted year last year.

The rampant looting and destruction in July may have been the final straw.

Capitec to add 300 jobs

By Londiwe Buthelezi for News24

As many people and some businesses are likely questioning the wisdom of ploughing more money into South Africa after the recent unrest, Capitec CEO Gerrie Fourie says he sees ample opportunities.

A perfectly running economy like Switzerland might sound like a dream, but Fourie says it doesn’t have the magnitude of opportunities that challenges-ridden SA presents.

“I am a strong believer that if you are positive, you’ll look for opportunities, you’ll find opportunities. If you are negative, you just see problems,” said the Capitec CEO during the PSG Think Big Series discussion on Tuesday.

Capitec launched a big recruitment drive on Tuesday, which will see it fill around 300 positions of mainly “fourth industrial revolution” skills over the next few months. These will include disciplines in business science, artificial intelligence, data engineers and computer analysts.

Fourie said he understood that it could be “quite scary” to be recruiting hundreds of people in the current environment as economies battered by Covid-19 are still trying to recover. But Capitec is “looking to grow and go further”, he said.

Fourie said he does not want to underplay SA’s challenges, especially the education system that needs an overhaul. But to get around this, Capitec is doing its own training.

“There are big challenges there. But when I look at where we are, we believe there are massive opportunities in South Africa,” he said.

Room to disrupt the market

Capitec has around 16.3 million clients, which Fourie says is a 10% market share of SA’s retail banking. The banks wants to grow that to around 20% to 25%. In the retail deposit space and insurance, Capitec respectively commands 8% for now and about 6% in credit.

So, Fourie sees “plenty of opportunities” to grow in these areas.

The bank also has big ambitions for its business banking proposition, following its acquisition of Mercantile Bank in 2019.

READ | Snail-paced rollout of business banking – Capitec has a few tricks up its sleeve
“We’re very excited about Mercantile because, in business banking, there’s a big opportunity in the SME market. If you want to unlock the opportunity in Africa, that’s the market you focus on,” he said.

Mercantile Bank will be transformed into a completely digital Capitec Business Bank. With a bank that’s not dependent on its brick-and-mortar infrastructure to grow, it might offer Capitec the opportunity to take its offering internationally, said Fourie.

However, the bank’s immediate focus is growing its market share in SA, and any international expansion would be small and measured.

Building an army of innovators

As a young bank, Fourie said Capitec’s roadmap looked at where it wants to be in three years during the first two decades of its existence. Now, it’s looking at where the bank must be in 2030.

With this long-term focus, it’s looking past short-term noises.

The bank has an “innovation team” that scouts the world, looking at how banking and financial services are changing in other markets.

Fourie said the team travelled a lot before Covid-19, doing over 1 000 international trips a year. It not only confined its learnings to financial services but spent time with retail and internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent to understand where opportunities lie in the blurring lines between banks, mobile operators and retailers.

But Capitec also learns a lot from the annual hackathon competitions that it runs with universities to get new innovative digital solutions for real-world problems.

Fourie said there are three to four solutions currently in production that came from this initiative that the bank will probably use.

 

Emerging successfully from an economic downturn and global pandemic is no easy feat, especially if you are an SME business without large cash reserves to see you through. How do entrepreneurs combat these difficult times and come out the other side relatively unscathed?

Warren Bonheim, MD of Zinia, a leading ICT and telecoms provider, shares his strategies for success that have seen Zinia thrive through tough times.

Embrace customer reviews

Word of mouth has to a certain extent been digitised with many customers often deciding who to contact off of google and social media reviews. This strategy embraces transparency by asking customers to go public with their experience across digital platforms.

Bonheim says feedback directly from the mouths of the customer has a unique way of driving a culture of continuous improvement and dedication to customer excellence.

By focusing on customer experience as a priority in your business, you can determine if you are delivering on your service promise or not. Simply asking what your customers are saying about your business also allows you to benchmark your service and find a starting point to improve. However, exposing your business by actively seeking out customer reviews is not without risk.

“Opening your business up to customer feedback is daunting because there is absolutely no control over what people will say,” says Bonheim. “In addition, it is human nature to criticize and not take the time to give positive feedback.”

Whilst this approach may open a business up to negative reviews, these reviews allow business decision-makers to create targeted intervention programmes to improve their services that are far more resource-efficient in the long run.

Invest in people and service

During tough times leaders may seek to cut costs through their wage bill. However, making a strategic decision to not carry out retrenchments may be better as it allows you to protect the livelihood of employees who make a high level of customer service possible.

This also proves that you are loyal to your employees, preserving employee satisfaction and motivation which leads to a productive and positive company culture.

Zinia made the decision to stand by their employees and demonstrate their commitment to personalized service by limiting retrenchment during the Lockdown. They also improved the customer experience by incorporating easy to understand tools, sales documents, processes, checks, SLAs, and customer satisfaction surveys to make dealing with the company effortless. In the same way, links to provide customer feedback are readily available at a variety of touchpoints, making it easy for customers to share their thoughts.

Give recognition

Getting buy-in from executive-level members is also imperative to implementing these strategies. Reviews both positive and negative should be monitored regularly by executive level company members. This allows positive reviews and the employees responsible for them to be given validation and recognition. Negative reviews can be investigated and the challenge properly identified – be it in processes, people, or systems – to inform future strategies on how to improve the business.

Bonheim says, “When we get a positive review everyone at Zinia celebrates, and when we get a negative one, we see it as an opportunity to learn. It is difficult not to take a negative review personally at Zinia because every staff member is so passionate about customer service. However, we know we are doing something right when 97% of our customers rate us a 4 out of 5 and above for service excellence.”

Creating a positive service culture internally through internal communication initiatives and leading by example is essential. After all, if your company members don’t believe in what you are doing you will struggle to implement any strategy within the company.

Digitise appropriately

Another strategic decision that paid off for Zinia was investing in a digitization strategy in 2018 that carefully considered which key business processes could be automated to support, manage, and sustain the businesses growth.

Automation has an incredible capacity to drive efficiencies and ensure that customer service is not compromised by lightening some of the manual administrative load. Investments in IT systems, customer engagement and ticketing, productivity monitoring and more, allowed Zinia to remain strong during 2020 when other businesses struggled.

The leader’s investment in an IT managed services platform known as ZMS allowed them to virtually manage their customer’s IT and network environments; improve efficiency and productivity of their own internal resources; proactively service their customers and minimise their downtime.

Effective digitisation has the benefit of allowing a company to be flexible and pivot according to challenges, big or small, that they may face. During a crisis situation like the pandemic, a solid digital infrastructure allows for remote working when needed, providing everything that the employee needs – internet, access to business systems, telephony and so on – so they can work productively.

Any good business strategy should focus on implementing the systems and controls necessary for the company to scale and provide the flexibility to react quickly. In Zinia’s case, their combination of systems and entrepreneurial flair allowed their team to quickly investigate the implications and opportunities within the crises when international rumours of a lockdown first began.

This resulted in the company being ready for lockdown with remote working solutions that included hosted VoIP (Voice over IP) PBX and custom productivity tools that could be delivered virtually. These solutions answered a very real business need in the market: How to manage employee’s remote activities and identify operational inefficiencies, productivity trends and prevent any IT security risks of remote working.

Embracing a digital way of interacting includes benefits such as increased sales activity and output of work, reduced travelling costs, reduced time spent travelling, reduced printing costs and so on.

Using these business strategies above can combat downturns in the economy, provide consistent feedback on business health and help clients trust organisations that deliver value in today’s world. Creativity and innovation are key to running any business, but especially in rapidly changing climates, they can make or break your success.

Businesses with strong growth strategies, forward-thinking decision-makers and positive workplace culture are emerging from the pandemic stronger than ever. Whilst many will agree that a fully work from home approach is not sustainable, with the correct strategy and investment in infrastructure we can effectively marry in office and work from home scenarios and create more resilient companies, with leaner operating models and more positive culture that recognise and support the human element of successful businesses.

SA economy grows by 1.1% in Q1

By Siphelele Dludla for IOL

The South African economy grew by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2021, translating into an annualised growth rate of 4.6 percent, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) reported on Tuesday.

However, the first quarter growth was lower than the revised 1.4 percent, or an annualised 5.8 percent, rise in real gross domestic product recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Stats SA said economic activity has increased in line with easing lockdown restrictions in the period, with real GDP rising to R761 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

Despite this being the third-consecutive quarter of positive growth, Stats SA said the economy was 2.7 percent smaller than it was in the first quarter of 2020.

“This level is roughly comparable to what the economy was producing in the first quarter of 2016, and is 2.7 percent down from the R782 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2020.”

StatsSA said eight of the 10 industries recorded positive gains in the first quarter of 2021, with finance, mining and trade making the most significant contributions.

The finance, mining and trade industries were the main drivers of output on the production side of the economy, while household spending and changes in inventories helped spur growth on the expenditure side.

The mining industry had a positive quarter too with annualised growth of 18.1 percent, boosted by the production of platinum group metals, iron ore, gold and chromium.

Manufacturing output increased at an annualised rate of 1.6 percent, mostly driven by strong growth in the production of motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment.

Stats SA said load shedding and a decline in the supply of water contributed to the contraction in the electricity, gas and water supply industry.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry also performed poorly in the first quarter in comparison with the previous quarter, dragged lower by weaker production figures for field crops and animal products.

 

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