Feature Release – Zambeef Marketing Chief keeps his eyes on the prize

May 15th, 2019

Top agribusiness boss believes being constantly on the ball is key to success

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Intricate may be an oversimplification when referring to the management of the marketing and communication functions of Zambia’s largest and leading food retailing company, but for Felix Lupindula, it is a constant but exciting challenge.

“My job is actually a full house. It involves a lot, from ensuring that the retail network, which is the engine room of this company, is in order and that our customers are looked after and get the products that they require, to managing stakeholder perceptions of the company,” says Zambeef’s head of marketing, retail and corporate affairs.

Constantly having their ears to the ground is a must for Mr Lupindula and his team as their work involves both managing the company’s countrywide retail network as well as the Zambeef brand and ensuring that the business, in addition to providing quality products and service to customers, maintains its standing as a proudly Zambian company by engaging various stakeholders at community and national level.

Mr Lupindula joined Zambeef as an agronomist and is approaching his seventh year with the firm, including three years’ experience working with a related company. His first role at the firm involved ensuring and maintaining plant health across Zambeef’s 24,000-hectare cropping operation.

He has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Zambia and a postgraduate Certificate in National plant protection from Technikon Pretoria in South Africa. Knowing the challenge to enhance knowledge and skill is never-ending, the enigmatic achiever went on to attain a master’s degree in business administration from Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh Business School in Scotland.

“Technology, the demands of industry and changing trends require that one is continually trained or you cannot deliver, despite a company having what we call the core competencies, without updating the skills of your staff or oneself. It’s very, very important that technology and education move together,” he said.

Named among the fastest growing retailers in Africa by the influential African Powers of Retailing report issued in 2016 by Deloitte Africa, Zambeef continues to change the face of Zambian food retailing business as well as the country’s agriculture sector with multiple multi-million dollar investments in state-of-the-art facilities aimed at increasing efficiencies across its operations and positioning it as a regional player in the food production sector.

The introduction of its Macro styled retail outlets, which are the ‘face’ of Zambeef, has led to strong growth in consumer demand for its products.

“The Macros are growing at a very good rate and I think we have a lot of support; we’ve seen our customer movement into our outlets more. These are a modern marketplace which reaches across the low, medium and high earners; they are more available, have more parking, are spacious and we have more staff and tills so service levels have improved, and this is giving us the impetus and the strides that we need to move retail to the next level,” added Mr Lupindula.

Zambeef has 19 such stores spread across the country, increasing its square metres of retail space to 22,740 as of 2017, and expects to roll out more this year. The progressive expansion of the retail business will ensure the group plays a leading role in providing food to a fast growing and urbanizing population in Zambia, West Africa and the wider SADC/COMESA regions.

Zambeef operates on a vertically integrated model: producing the crops to feed into its Novatek stockfeed division; which in turn feeds its chicken, pork, beef and dairy operations, with products then distributed nationwide through its chain of retail outlets.

This link between the company’s farming, cold chain food production and retail divisions, means planning is crucial for achieving success for Mr Lupindula and his team.

“I cannot do everything alone, I have a team. At the beginning of the week I call a meeting which helps me to plan for the week for my marketing team,” he reveals.

“Management is about leadership. It is about you being able to organise your resources and ensure that those resources provide the results that you want, it’s not necessarily you running around doing everything because in that way you will fail, so it is very important that I talk to my managers. I meet my managers and I direct things in a manner that is in line with our policy and our strategic goals. It’s very important that my team is up to date and understands what we need to achieve in a day, a week, month, quarter, even in a year,” Mr Lupindula said.

As one of the largest integrated agri-businesses in the country, the value that Zambeef creates through its forward and backward linkages is passed on to other players in the economy. Zambeef works closely with small and medium scale farmers across the country and these make up the majority of its suppliers of beef, chicken, pork and milk to the cold chain food products division.

From an economic standpoint, Zambeef’s turnover contributed a significant 1% towards Zambia’s GDP in 2016 and continues to be one of the largest tax payers and employers in the country.

The company mottos of ‘Proudly Zambian’ and ‘Feeding the Nation’ are central to Zambeef’s operations and business philosophy. Mr Lupindula pointed to the importance of promoting sustainable local industries in order to strengthen the country’s economy.

“When you promote local industries, it creates more employment, which generally translates in improved livelihoods, so Proudly Zambian coupled with Feeding the Nation are two very important mottos for us,” said Mr Lupindula.

“Zambeef employees over 7,500 employees, and apart from being an employer we have a very big corporate social responsibility footprint; Zambeef supports orphans and vulnerable people, we support health, education, traditional and cultural ceremonies,” said Mr Lupindula. Very much a disciplined and hands-on type of person, Mr Lupindula attributes his “fighting and determined spirit” to his years of training in the Zambia Army.

“It’s not easy. Marketing, corporate affairs and retailing, is a 24-hour, 365-days-a-year job, so you have to make sure that your eyes are on the ball and you don’t drop the ball. You cannot stop marketing because there is a corporate affairs issue, so you must be a person who should be able to handle several jobs at once and that is a very important attribute,” said Mr Lupindula.

“At the end of the day when I see that this has been sorted out and things are running smoothly it gives me the impetus and the drive to continue with what I am doing.”
– Ends –

Felix Lupindula

Zambeef marketing head Felix Lupindula: keeping his eyes on the prize.

About Zambeef Products Plc
Zambeef Products Plc is the largest integrated cold chain food products and agribusiness company in Zambia and one of the largest in the region, involved in the primary production, processing, distribution and retailing of beef, chicken, pork, milk, eggs, dairy products, fish, flour and stockfeed, throughout Zambia and the surrounding region, as well as Nigeria and Ghana.
It has 206 retail outlets throughout Zambia and West Africa.
The company is one of the largest suppliers of beef in Zambia. Five beef abattoirs and three feedlots located throughout Zambia, with a capacity to slaughter 100,000 cattle a year. Zambeef produced 18.1 million kgs of beef in 2018.It is also one of the largest chicken and egg producers in Zambia, producing 16.9 million day-old chicks a year and processing 12.8 million kgs of chickens in 2018.
It is one of the largest piggeries, pig abattoirs and pork processing plants in Zambia, with 9.9 million kgs produced during the year, while its dairy processes around 19.3 million litres of milk a year.
The Group is also one of the largest cereal row cropping operations in Zambia, with approximately 7,787 hectares of row crops under irrigation which are planted twice a year, and a further 8,694 hectares of rainfed/dry-land crops available for planting each year.
Zambeef employs 7,555 people with a total of K420.8 million paid in remuneration and benefits in the last year.
More information is available at www.zambeefplc.com