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08 Aug 2013

The steady improvement of Zimbabwe’s economy over the past few years, coupled with its move to dollarisation, has proven a catalyst for sound business opportunities, says Rudolf Nieman, managing director of JHI Project Management, a member of the Excellerate Property Services (EPS) group.

View of Stanbic Bank’s newly constructed head office in Lusaka, Zambia.

“With a strong track record and aptitude for new retail development in Africa, the South African based Innscor Retail Africa has identified a few gaps in the Zimbabwean retail market – one of which is the fast food sector,” he says.

Innscor, which owns Baker’s Inn, Chicken Inn, Pizza Inn, Creamy Inn and the franchise rights for Nando’s and Steers in Africa, has made full utilisation of this demand with the roll-out of over 3 300 square metres of new and refurbished  food courts in Zimbabwe over the past year (August 2012 to June 2013). This represents a total investment by Innscor of almost R120 million.

To assist with the expansion, JHI Project Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of EPS and a sister company to JHI Properties was appointed the principal agent managing the development and execution of Innscor’s projects.

As a result, all 13 of these projects were completed to international quality standards and within exacting timelines.

“By deploying Jannie Greeff to Zimbabwe as development and project manager for JHI Project Management in Zimbabwe on a full time basis, we were able to take a ‘hands-on’ approach to all the projects while adhering to a formalised project management procedure through a dedicated and experienced project management team.”

Critical to the success of the roll-out programme was identifying and defining the scope required for each and every project in detail, to ensure sufficient resources were employed during the entire process, he explains.

A key factor in such projects is to ensure that all involved, including consultants and contractors, complied with the time, cost and quality parameters.

The projects completed in Zimbabwe included Baker’s Inn Factory, which, when in full operation in 2014 will produce up to 900 000 loaves of bread per day (phase one has been operational since April 2013 and is producing 250 000 loaves of bread per day),  a new-build, standalone food court in Chivu, which is owned by the recently established Ascendant Property Fund, and a number of refurbished food courts in Harare.

The projects were not without complications as the Zimbabwean construction industry presents a variety of challenges to developers, consultants and contractors, he points out.  

These include a lack of supply of building materials – which need to be sourced from South Africa and other countries, a lack of skilled and semi-skilled labour, transport and border clearing issues, exacting requirements from local city councils; and a lack of infrastructure.

As a result it was up to the professional team to be extraordinarily meticulous, he says.

The South African based architects, Pattichides and Partners, provided simple yet eloquent designs ideally suited to the requirements, while AM Machado Building Contractors, who have 47 years of building experience in the construction industry in Africa, completed the projects with precision. With the success of this programme all parties are keen to expand and a number of further projects in Zimbabwe and other African countries are envisaged for the near future, says Nieman.

In Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka, JHI Project Management recently project managed the newly constructed 5 568 square metre head office for Stanbic Bank on behalf of the landlord, Burnet Investments Limited, which is a Zambian based company.

The cost of this construction project represented a total investment of some US11 400 000 (equivalent to approximately R114 million at the current exchange rate).

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