Tata International Africa, a subsidiary of Tata International, has recorded another profitable year despite the challenging economies, shrinking markets and the pandemic.
The group provides skills, expertise and various products in automotive, engineering, mining, farming and farm equipment, in 12 countries across Africa.
Strong growth in turnover was achieved from 2017 onwards to the extent of 40% growth year-on-year and by 2018 the company managed to break even.
The strong growth of 40%-plus continued from 2018 to 2019 and returned healthy profits.
“Our efforts of the last four years since starting at the helm have begun to bear fruit. Piece by piece the changes in strategy, people, processes and product offering are beginning to come together to deliver meaningful profits,” says Tata International Africa CEO Len Brand.
“Our continued growth is also driven by having the right team in place. We are fortunate to have a resilient hard-working group of people that I am constantly impressed by. In order to achieve our vision, we developed a strong strategic plan to help us focus on the right geographies, product segments and expansion areas, to get to a consistent turnover every month,” he adds.
According to Brand, the businesses in Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria have been working exceptionally well over the past year. These include John Deere Construction and Agriculture, Tata Motors, Daewoo Trucks and Tata Truck and Bus.
On the continent as a whole, getting the product mix right has been critical, supported by a strong network and relationship approach, Brand notes.
“We provide products and solutions that address the specific needs of each customer, and we understand their needs because we have good relationships in place. We also make a considerable effort to understand the markets and environments in which they operate. Trust has been built and we are now reaping the benefits,” says Brand.
The company’s success can also be attributed to a focus on supplying niche customers and helping them to be profitable, it posits.
“We expanded our after-sales business to enable independent parts retailers and roadside technicians to play a major role. This innovative development programme was implemented in a two-pronged approach, both with the goal of uplifting communities and creating entrepreneurs.
“The first was to identify small business owners with entrepreneurial flair, and equipping them with the skills they needed to implement business processes and operating efficiencies to take their businesses to the next level. We strategically chose operations already up and running in prime locations, and offered to sell them genuine spare parts at a discounted rate, with a one-year buy-back guarantee.
“The second approach was to offer free training for roadside mechanics, whereby we brought these mechanics into one of our Tata facilities for three or four days, and trained them on how to fix our vehicles.
"The result of this has been that when one of our customers’ trucks or buses breaks down, these Tata-trained roadside mechanics go to their nearest facility, buy the genuine parts, and fix the vehicle as quickly as possible, ensuring the vehicle is back on the road and operating with maximum uptime for product owners,” notes Brand.
The online availability and sale of parts has contributed significantly to growth, with customers across Africa now using the company’s online parts portal, demonstrating the potential that the Fourth Industrial Revolution can deliver in Africa, that company states.