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Kenblest plans Sh1bn expansion of Thika mill

A man buys bread in a supermarket. Bread maker Kenblest is in talks with KCB for Sh1 billion loan for expansion. Photo/FILE
A man buys bread in a supermarket. Bread maker Kenblest is in talks with KCB for Sh1 billion loan for expansion. Photo/FILE 

Bread maker Kenblest Group is in negotiations with KCB for a Sh1 billion loan to finance the expansion of its milling plant.

The Thika-based company says KCB has already advanced it Sh180 million for buying a new fleet of vehicles, while clearing of site and excavation for the milling plant has already started.

It manufactures a range of flours for domestic consumption in addition to baking flour, which is fed directly into the Kenblest bakery.

“We are in talks with KCB to finance the project at Sh1 billion and we are optimistic the whole transaction will be sealed by the end of next month,” said Kenblest Group chief operations officer Neel Shah in an interview.

The milling plant is targeted for completion by the end this year.

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The company will also use some of its cash reserves to co-finance the project. Kenblest is said to be the biggest bread maker in Kenya, with capacity to produce 330,000 loaves per day.

The new wheat and maize milling plant will boost production to 300 metric tonnes per day compared to the current 200 metric tonnes.

It is also expected to create employment for an additional 200 people in addition to the current 700.

“This is a huge investment and is in line with our expansion plans as we seek to diversify our product portfolio by end of this year with the aim of  increasing our presence in the market  and boosting our sales volume,” said  Mr Shah.

Kenblest Group, which in addition to producing bread also deals in textiles, mineral water, maize meal and plastic paper bags is panning diversification into more fast moving consumer goods, though Mr Shah declined to disclose the new products in its pipeline.

“Every company that values growth must seek to diversify and this is one of the key areas we are focusing on. The strategy is to create a strong foot print in the market while at the same time going with what is selling in the market,” said Mr Shah.

A new premium bread under its Kenblest brand is also being developed.

“There is a lot of potential in the Kenyan bakery market,’’ he added.

Kenblest Limited is part of the family-owned Kenblest Group commissioned in 1982 to produce bread.

The business was founded in 1937 with the incorporation of “Shah Kanji Ladha and Company” in Thika, by Kanji Ladha Shah. The shop located in the centre of Thika town, traded in textiles and general goods.

Thika Household Supplier was formed in 1968, dealing in the supply of foodstuffs, hardware and sundry items to government departments, hospitals and schools.

It has expanded over the years to own Kifaru Industries Ltd, which deals in textiles, Nav Plastics Ltd which manufactures plastic paper bags and McNeel Millers Ltd which produces wheat and maize flour.

It has 500,000 square feet of warehousing and manages a fleet of over 100 distribution vehicles.

The group is run by three brothers who inherited the business from their father, Mohanlal Dharamshi Shah.

Kenblest Group is also a distributor of Orange Telkom products.

“We are seeking more growth and we intend to leave the business legacy that can passed to future generations given this is a fully owned family business,” said Mr Shah.

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