Construction chemicals producer The Chryso Group’s plans to use South Africa as the springboard for increased penetration into the African continent will be boosted by the establishment of a new research and development (R&D) facility at the Chryso Southern Africa head office in Jet Park, in the first half of this year.
This was announced by Chryso’s global CEO Thierry Bernard during a recent visit to South Africa. During the visit, Bernard met with Chryso executive VP Norman Seymore, who is also Chryso Southern Africa’s CEO.
Bernard said during the visit that although Chryso is an international company doing business in more than 70 countries with subsidiaries in 20, it regards Africa as one of its most important markets.
“A total of about 25% of Chryso’s total sales are to African countries, with South Africa and Morocco being our major markets on the continent. We have made substantial capital investments in our operations in South Africa in recent years and in future, we want to use South Africa to drive further investments in Africa, some of which are imminent,” he pointed out.
Bernard also mentioned that the group also realises that its South African operations needs to maintain and improve the service offered to customers.
"There has been a growing need to develop specific products for the African market, and for more efficient and prompt testing services for Chryso customers in sub-Saharan Africa. The new R&D facility in Jet Park will be equipped with the most modern, high-tech facilities and will include, to an extent, the R&D equipment we operate in France, Turkey and India."
The construction industry today demands innovation and new philosophies, techniques solutions to twenty-first-century building challenges and that is an important motivation for opening the new South African R&D centre, he explained. Local demand in the field of construction chemicals has to be catered for from the industry’s doorstep, not from another continent. The R&D centre will be unique in its field in Southern Africa based on the services it offers.
Bernard highlighted that Chryso planned to expand its African presence even further than the recent opening of production facilities in both Kenya and Algeria. Future African penetration will be either through acquisitions or greenfield developments. There are three areas, in particular, that Chryso is currently targeting. The first is Egypt, followed by West Africa - particularly the French-speaking countries such as the Côte d'Ivoire. The second is Senegal, where the company is already doing business; and finally, there is Nigeria, which has a strong economy and substantial business prospects. Chryso's entry into these countries will be carried out over the next two to three years.
Global future expansion plans for Chryso include increasing its operations in Sweden where a production facility to serve the Scandinavian market is on the cards, as well as in a Middle East Gulf Cooperation Council country where the establishment of Chryso operations has virtually been finalised, with an announcement in this regard due before the end of the year.
“Chryso also needs to be more active in South-East Asia, which is another region where we are planning to increase our presence,” Bernard said.
He said Chryso’s expansion globally, and in Africa’s emerging markets, hinged on being flexible and selective. The economies of African countries, in particular, are volatile and subject to unexpected slowdowns, therefore expansion plans have to be very selective in the first instance and avoid relying too much on one particular country.
Chryso, originally part of the Materis Group of Companies, was acquired by European equity firm LBO France last year and now operates as a standalone entity with enhanced credit resources for global expansion.