Drawing market re-entry plan post-Covid
Irene Wanjiku chief executive of REXE Roofing Products talks about survival in the industry and turning attention towards recovery to ensure her organisation is prepared to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
Barry Silah @obel_barry
How has business in your sector been impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic?
The lead time for importing our products has expanded unfavorably. The delivery is thus unpredictable. Businesses are hard to operate when the level of uncertainty is high.
Planning becomes difficult and sometimes clients may not understand. These timing inefficiencies impact service delivery and project completion timelines.
Have you been able to realign your distribution or sales strategy in the wake of Covid-19?
Yes. Some normalcy has been restored with our importation procedures and stock deliveries.
This has helped us to realign some planning levels. Also, the government’s relaxation of curfew and movement containment measures has improved our hours of operation.
This was previously a problem since time was a huge constraint. Since we are in the construction and manufacturing sector, working on-site and at the plant cannot be replaced by Zoom or Skype, at least not in 2020.
What do you anticipate will be your re-entry strategy into the market to break the spell of the virus?
In a hands-on service sector, the operations level with the client may not need so many adjustments.
In that regard, we take Covid-19 as a long interruption, but not the new norm.
However, the handling of imports and importation procedures or lead time is something that we need to work on.
This needs a proper strategy adjustment with our suppliers overseas, which we are working on.
What is the single biggest challenge in the construction industry so far and how do you expect the landscape to change?
In Kenya, the space is small for local contractors and manufacturers. Due to increased importation, however, the government can offer subsidies and incentives to add muscle to the local manufacturers.
Training and importation of skills can also be enhanced through bilateral agreements with developed countries.
Recently the government gave incentives to different sectors, particularly the tourism and manufacturing spaces. Have you felt its value yet?
The reduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) from 16 to14 per cent is one of the areas that has given us direct cashflow benefits. Cashflow incentives are critical for any business, especially ours that is capital intensive.
Our employees have also benefited from the Pay As You Earn rebates. We all know how important pecuniary incentives work in organisations. That has worked for us.
The corporate tax moving to 25 per cent is also a good incentive at the corporate level.