Nestlé South Africa, which serves as the nerve centre for the Swiss food and beverage giant’s Southern and Eastern Africa network, intends expanding its operations with a R100m (US$9.4m) pet food factory and a R120m central warehouse in Gauteng province.

The company, which this months celebrates the 75th anniversary of the opening of its first factory in Escourt, South Africa, believes the region offers major opportunities. This capital expenditure forms part of an ongoing expansion and upgrading policy by the company.

Nestlé’s worldwide turnover for the period January to June 2002 stood at about R308bn according to Maya Makanjee, communication and public affairs director in Johannesburg.

Africa at present represents about 3% of Nestlé’s turnover, with the Southern and Eastern region contributing about a third of that.

An estimated 241 million people live in this region, which extends as far as Angola, across to Kenya and the Indian Ocean Islands. South Africa accounts for about 75% of the company’s turnover for the region.

There are 14 food, confectionary and beverage facilities in the country and one each in Harare, Zimbabwe and Nairobi, Kenya, according to Makanjee.

“We see expansion into those areas developing to the point where turnover outside South Africa could reach 50% of our total for the region. There are opportunities there and our local retail partners have also identified this and are expanding accordingly.

“Besides our operations in Kenya and Zimbabwe, we have offices in Angola, Mauritius and Mozambique and Tanzania is on the cards, in an attempt to help us boost sales in those countries.”

By Arnold Kirkby, correspondent