Kuguru to set up Sh2bn sanitary towels plant in Nairobi

Businessman Peter Kuguru has ventured into the sanitary pads business, with plans to set up a Sh2 billion manufacturing plant in Nairobi.

Mr Kuguru, who is better known for his Softa beverages company, says he has diversified into the new business line to tap growing demand for the towels.

He has registered a subsidiary, Sanitary Pads and Diapers International, which is jointly owned with a group of foreign investors.

The businessman is currently importing the All Whites sanitary pads from China, having won the franchise to sell the towels locally.

“The product is manufactured in China. We will be setting up a plant in Nairobi that will serve Kenya and the regional market,” said Mr Kuguru in an interview at his Industrial Area office in Nairobi.

A pack of the pads costs Sh60 and retails in the same range as other rival brands including Always, Kotex, Stay Free and All Tyme.

The manufacturing plant, when complete, is expected to employ 1,200 staff, he said. “At the moment, we are piloting the product at Nakumatt and Chandarana supermarkets.”

The investor is also targeting non-governmental organisations that supply poor women in refugee camps, schools and slum areas with the product.

Mr Kuguru, however, declined to name his foreign partners or their shareholding in the venture.

His entry into the local market is expected to raise competition for established players such as Unilever Kenya, the producers of Always, Inter-consumer Products that sells the All Tyme brand and Kim-Fay East Africa which makes Kotex.

“Our focus is on price leadership, accessibility and technology in manufacturing,” he said about his strategy, and revealed he would be diversifying into making panty liners, diapers and wet wipes whose demand is being driven by the growing middle class.

“Very few local companies are involved in this business segment and multinationals have for long been the main players importing the product.”
The one-time MP said he has retired from active politics, which he feels “doesn’t blend well” with business.

His soft drinks business, he said, is facing stiff competition from products by American multinationals Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Softa Bottling Company produces brands such as Softa Orange, Softa Cola and recently entered into the water and juice bottling business with the Angel Wise and Asili Juice brands respectively.

Mr Kuguru founded Softa in 1998, marketing it as a Kenyan youths drink.

His other businesses include Cateress Milling firm which produces maize flour and Just Real Estate, a housing company.