BULAWAYO has been hit by a bread shortage after a breakdown in one of the country’s oldest and biggest bread-making companies Lobels Holdings.
Most bread shops in Bulawayo were empty on Thursday and Friday and shop attendants told Southern Eye they had not received bread for some days.
In an interview with Southern Eye Business, Lobels Bulawayo services manager Wisdom Mudarikiri said one of their plants had a breakdown forcing them to produce half of their daily capacity.
On average Lobels produces 100 000 loaves per day, but due to the break-down, it was producing 50 000. Mudarikiri described the shortage as a temporary setback.
“One of our plants is down and we are currently producing only half our capacity” Mudarikiri said. “We, however, expect the full plant to be running soon.”
The company early this year announced that it had acquired a $2,5 million state-of-the-art bread-making equipment to boost output and reclaim lost market share.
With this newly-acquired facility, production capacity was expected to increase to 120 000 loaves of bread per day at the Bulawayo factory.
Lobels Holdings was established in 1957 by the Lobel family in Bulawayo.
The company was then sold to a consortium of indigenous Zimbabweans in 2002 before expanding its operations in Bulawayo with the opening of a 60 000 capacity bread plant in 2004.
The company, like most other businesses in Bulawayo, almost went under — largely due to huge debts, high operational costs, archaic machinery and constraints in working capital.
Bulawayo industries have been listed in critical condition for the past decade.
The situation worsened in the past year with several firms closing, throwing thousands of workers into the streets.
Statistics from the Industry and Commerce ministry — then headed by MDC leader Welshman Ncube — revealed that 84 companies closed shop last year while 64 were reported on the verge of collapse.