Santosh Gumte is the Managing Director for paint maker, Plascon Uganda Limited. He spoke to The Independent’s Julius Businge about the company’s business and related sector issues
What opportunities have you outlined in the new budget whose implementation began on July 01?
It is a good budget. It is a development budget. We hope to see many projects coming up. We are ready to supply paint and to work with partners to benefit the people.
What is your general description of Plascon Uganda limited?
Plascon is widely accepted as the most trusted quality paint product in Uganda and is available at over 400 dealers countrywide. With a strong dealer network, trusted products and trend setting colours, Plascon has become the largest paint company in Uganda with 60% market share. The Plascon brand is well established throughout Africa and is the largest paint brand in Southern Africa. The company is part of the Kansai Paint Group which has its head office in Osaka, Japan.
Why should buyers trust your paint?
For over 50 years, the business has delivered the best quality products and the best possible price to Ugandans. In August 2017 when Kansai Paint bought out the previous company, a promise was made to deliver the same or better-quality products, colours and services to the market. Delivering over two million litres of quality paint to a market every month requires skilled staff, quality materials and industry leading manufacturing. For sustainability purposes, we opened the Plascon Namanve site in 2016 costing $10 million.
How profitable are the markets that you are dealing with?
These are exciting times for the construction industry. Uganda is a growing economy and with it, many of its industries are thriving. The expectation is that the construction sector will grow at double the rate of GDP. This means we are looking at growth in excess of 10% per annum over the next few years. Additionally, opportunities lie in the fact that Uganda has a very young population with over 50% of the population under the age of 20 providing a high demand for housing. Industries are also growing, fostered by improved infrastructure, the discovery of oil in Hoima, stable electricity and other energy and a growing middle class. As a result, the demand for industrial paint and associated coatings will grow. We are currently serving Uganda, South Sudan, DRC, Rwanda and Burundi markets.
Apart from shareholders, who else is benefiting from your business?
One of the major activities we do is the painters training sessions carried out across Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. In these sessions people are given the skills necessary to become a painter. We train around 13,000 painters every year in order to ensure they have the skills to earn a living and partner with us in delivering the Plascon experience. We currently employ over 500 Ugandans at our production site in Namanve and sales office at 2nd Street in the Industrial Area. Being part of a global group means more employment opportunities for people.
How is your business strategy responding to government’s call on protecting the environment from pollution?
The Namanve plant has a world class water treatment and waste treatment facility on site. Some of the biggest challenges in the paint and coatings industry are the problems faced with the disposal of waste water and excessive water consumption, and the associated cost and sustainability implications. Through the system at Namanve, the hard or slug waste is able to be removed, the water be treated and the environment protected.
Most firms are increasingly spending on corporate social responsibility areas. How are you faring?
At the launch of Plascon anti-mosquito paint, a pledge was made to contribute Shs1, 000 for every litre of anti-mosquito paint sold between February and April this year. We raised Shs16million which we donated to Sanyu Babies Home. Plascon paid the electricity and water accounts, donated bedding, linen, consumables and a hearing-aid for one of the children. As part of the “Hold My Hand to 5” activity Plascon recently painted schools and NGOs across Uganda. This activity joins initiatives such as annual paint donations, the sponsorship of the Uganda Conservation Foundation as well as support sport in Uganda through the sponsorship of Kansai Plascon FC and the Plascon Mongers Rugby team of Entebbe.
How are you planning to deal with the ever changing consumer tastes and preferences?
Ugandans love colour. Lime green sits on top of the list, then yellow tints and shades combined with clashing accents of terracotta and purple. These unusual combinations have inspired the UK, Europe and America to make innovations on colour ideas and design. Plascon releases a Colour Forecast annually which is collected through studies and global trends and are shared across all Kansai Paint companies. We are proud to bring this to Uganda every year and help our customers remain on trend and get the best colour advice in the region.
Your final word?
We will continue to innovate and invest in areas that are beneficial to the people and the company. We will strengthen our relationship with our partners in this business.