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Blue Ribbon Reopens

Blue Ribbon Foods resumed operations on the maize line last week after securing a supply agreement for raw materials with a Mutare-based company. A source familiar with the development said operations on the maize line started last week pending the finalisation of the equity sale to Bakhresa group and the popular brands Ngwerewere and Chibataura will be back on the shelves this month.

The Mutare company had also availed $200 000 to rehabilitate machinery and equipment at the old plant.

Blue Ribbon Industries has five divisions which included BRI Logistics, Blue Ribbon Foods, JA Mitchells and Nutresco Foods.

Blue Ribbon was operating in fits and starts until the High Court placed it under judicial management two years back when output capacity fell to unsustainable levels.

The company faces the similar problem of crippling shortage of funding characterising local industry, which forced the company to borrow at punitive interest rates.

The company also struggled to pay back a $2 million loan it had obtained from regional financier, the PTA Bank.

Bakhresa group from Tanzania is currently awaiting regulatory approval to buy a 75 percent stake in the company.

Bakhresa is expected to inject $30 million in the group, $15 million of which will go towards working capital.

Bakhresa’s operations are spread in mainland Tanzania and the island Zanzibar. It also has presence in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda and Seychelles.

The company is currently constructing a $50 million milling plant in Mombasa, Kenya. Once completed, this plant will process about 860 metric tonnes of cereals a day

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