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Covid-19: Business trading conditions to remain a challenge till year end

Business trading conditions are expected to remain a challenge for the remainder of the year, owing to the effects of Covid-19, a number of listed companies have warned.

The way of doing business in Zimbabwe has been adversely affected since the pandemic hit the country in March.

Businesses through the national lockdown to curb the spread of the disease have had their hours of operation cut short while at the same time they have been mandated to comply with a number of preventative measures, in the process affecting profitability.

Companies are of the idea that they would continue to face Covid-19 operational challenges until December 2020 if not beyond.

“The increase in infections in the country has significantly disrupted business operations,” said TSL Limited secretary, James Muchando, in their latest trading update.

“Though group entities continued to operate as essential services during the lockdown period, supply chains have been disrupted to varying degrees. The full impact of the pandemic on the group’s 2020 financial performance remains uncertain.”

He said focus remained on ensuring safety of staff and stakeholders with measures being implemented to curb transmissions of the coronavirus.

“The group has implemented various contingency plans to mitigate associated risks and ensure disruptions of operations are minimised,” he explained.

“The operating environment is expected to remain difficult for the remainder of the year. With the introduction of the foreign currency auction system, the availability of foreign currency for restocking and capital investments is expected to continue to improve. A more stable exchange rate will minimise business disruptions.”

British American Tobacco (BAT) Zimbabwe chairman, Lovemore Manatsa, also said the impact of Covid-19 would still be felt in the remaining three months of the year.

“Trading conditions are expected to remain challenging for the remainder of 2020 mainly driven by macro-economic variables and the effects of the Covid-19-pandemic,” said Manatsa in the group’s financial results for the six months ended June 30, 2020.

“In response to the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are continuously reviewing our business model and related strategies so as to remain aligned to the market dynamics in the ‘new normal’ way of doing business. We remain confident that our brand portfolio and route to consumer footprint remains consumer relevant to deliver value growth for our shareholders.

He added: “With the introduction of the foreign currency auction platform, we hope to access the much-needed foreign currency which the company requires to source raw materials for the production of our consumer-centric brands.”

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