Astra Paints continues to be the market-leader in Zimbabwe under the ownership of the Kansai Plascon group.
The Japanese takeover in 2013 eventually led to Astra Industries delisting from the stock exchange last year as it could no longer comply with ownership rules.
Kansai said its intention was to grow business for the long term across Africa in its various industrial divisions.
Astra Paints commenced business in Harare as Herbert Evans paint in 1947. Through the years, it merged with other paint companies like Titanium Paints to eventually become Plascon Paints, whose majority stake was then acquired by the government of Zimbabwe through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in 1983. The paint concern was then renamed Astra Paints in line with the larger group, Astra Corporation.
Astra Paints is the largest paint and protective coatings manufacturer in Zimbabwe, and commands a market share of about 44%.
Astra Paints has a technical partnership with Barloworld Coatings (previously known as Plascon). Production of paints is done in both Harare and Bulawayo factories, where 232 staff are employed.
The company has more than 60-years experience in the manufacture and distribution of paints and coatings.
It also has a chemicals division which distributes 400 products around the southern Africa region. They are found in adhesives, alcohol, foods, textiles, pharmaceuticals and plastics.
An alcohol distillery, that produces high quality potable spirits and absolute alcohols, is jointly owned in Hippo Valley Estates.
Astra Industries will be re-branding its products following the acquisition.
Astra has had an illustrious past achieving ISO 9002 certification 2000 and in 2003 upgrading to ISO 9001 certification.
The company boasts over 67 years experience in the manufacture and distribution of paints and coatings as well as allied products. Astra prides itself in the training and skills of all staff, amongst which are such skills as marketing, finance, human resources and paint technology for key quality control, development and manufacturing staff.
Portfolio of products
Astra manufactures a comprehensive portfolio of products that can be broadly divided into four categories. Firstly, decorative paints used in the painting and decoration of homes and offices as well as associated ancillaries. Products include oil-based paints amongst them high gloss enamel paints, eggshell enamel paints, red oxide metal primer and zinc phosphate primer. Water-based paints are also decorative paints and these include super acrylic exterior/interior PVA, ceiling PVA white, super washable satin, double velvet luxury PVA and micatex textured coatings. Varnishes also fall under the category of decorative paints and include products such as clear varnish, wood coat clear varnishes and varnish stains.
The second category is that of industrial paints and coatings. These are paints used in industry for the finishing of industrial goods of high durability and include Baking enamels, powder coatings, drum enamels, Copon pipe and tank coatings and bitumen paints.
Furniture paints and coatings are all used for the industrial manufacture of furniture. Products include plaseal base coat, reaction lacquers, colour coats and ancillaries like wood grain fillers. Lastly, Astra also manufactures automotive paints as well as importing from Barloworld Coatings for the OEM and refinish markets. Brands include the glosskote enamel, fleetline enamel, grey surface primer, acrylic 2K auto range, Barloworld’s acryline 2K auto range and top of the range Herbert’s standox 2K auto range.
Technical back up
It is also noteworthy that Astra Paints offers technical services for all of these categories as well as boast the best project assistance service in support of their paint and coatings products. Astra’s main competitor is Dulux Paints. There are other small paint manufacturers mainly concentrating on the lower end of the market, such as Prestige Paints, Splash, Promac, Solid and Chroma paints.
Astra has got a technical agreement with Freeworld Coatings which is the largest paint manufacturer in Africa. Freeworld Coatings ranks as the top 35 coatings businesses in the world. Astra Paints is 80% reliant on imported raw materials, the balance being met by local supplies. Hardware stores provide a wide distribution network for Astra Paints’ products.
Further, it operates a fleet of vehicles in Harare and in Bulawayo that serves those two markets. Astra Paints’ customer mix who account for 80% of the division’s turnover can be grouped into three categories namely stockists or hardware dealers, general industrial and automotive.
Astra is a customer focused Group specialising in chemical trading, manufacturing and distribution of quality surface coatings. The company is committed to creating superior shareholder value through:
• Providing high quality products and services
• Collaborating with strategic partners within chosen markets
• Recognising our social responsibility