Uganda Breweries – Raw Talent
Uganda Breweries Ltd is Uganda’s leading branded alcohol beverage manufacturer with an outstanding collection of brands that range from beer, spirits and adult non – alcoholic drinks (ANADs) reaffirming its standing as a total adult beverage (TAB) company.
We have a wide portfolio of beer, spirit, ready to drink (RTD) and non-alcoholic brands, we pride ourselves in knowing that no one else in the market has that wide a portfolio, and we are a subsidiary of East African Breweries Limited, a subsidiary of Diageo PLC, the world leader in manufacturing adult beverages,” explains the company’s acting head of procurement, Richard Atugonza.
“Our portfolio of brands means we can satisfy every consumer’s need, from non-alcoholic carbonated beverages to an assortment of spirits and beers. We offer premium, mainstream, and value beers, and the same applies to spirits. So that makes us unique with a strong value proposition to consumers.”
First and foremost, Uganda Breweries is a customer-driven business, which means they are customer-centric and truly take the time to study their markets and understand the needs and wants of their consumers so that they can deduce the best ways to satisfy them. This is why Uganda Breweries continually invests in innovation, renovating their brands so that Uganda Breweries stays on a par with the latest fashions and trends in their markets. It is an attitude that speaks to the company’s ambition to be the best performing, most trusted and most celebrated business in the country.
The company has built itself up to this position from relatively humble origins when the company was formally established on July 27th, 1946. Back then the company’s directors were all Europeans, producing one own-brand beverage, a beer called “Bell Lager”. Even today, with a far more diverse portfolio and board of directors, that Bell Brand is still the flagship product of the company, with a reputation that has grown and prospered over six decades.
Of course, things aren’t always easy at the top, and Uganda Breweries faces challenges just like any other business, particularly in the midst of an unpredictable global economy.
“We face the challenge of the rising cost of doing business in terms of foreign exchange rates and taxes, but those challenges are not too big to overcome,” Atugonza says. “The biggest challenge is the cost of sourcing for raw materials. We continuously scan the market and negotiate for the best prices and the best quality.”
It is a problem that is becoming a growing concern, and one Uganda Breweries is having to adapt to meet head-on. “The costs are increasing for resources around the globe. We can’t keep taking on cost increases, because you have to pass them on to the consumer, which would mean you lose your competitive advantage,” Atugonza explains. “We leverage on good strategic partnerships
with our key suppliers, combined with a number of other strategies to mitigate against that.” An important part of that strategy is to take control of the company’s raw materials supply chain.
“In terms of the total number of small-scale farmers we have got, we have between 17-20,000 farmers whom we work with directly or through aggregators,” Atugonza points out. “Our local
raw materials sourcing agenda is to now source through one strategic partner. However, we don’t just leave the relationship to the outsourced partner. We have our own teams of agronomists,
educating farmers on best practices. We also advise them in quality standards and provide subsidised seeds and other farm inputs. The current trend in all businesses is partnerships, working hand-in-hand with civil society organisations to educate our farmers on how to improve their business and marketing skills, post-harvest handling and quality improvements among others.”
There are two sides to Uganda Breweries’ raw materials agenda, producing enough to meet demand, but also adapting the materials they use to meet the needs of a changing world. “We are trying to improve our capacity. The market is growing so we want to make sure we meet future demand through the supply chain,” Atugonza says. In May 2019, the government banned the use of polythene bags which was a major spirits packaging material.
Many small non-compliant manufacturers were pushed out of business and we are ready to take advantage of that.”
AN ENGAGED TEAM
Despite the challenges inherent in the industry, Atugonza is in no doubt that Uganda Breweries is doing well. “The last year has been superb,” he enthuses. “It was one of the best performances we
have seen in the last ten years.” That success is a valuable asset when it comes to recruiting the people who are the lifeblood of the company.
“Being a market leader means we can attract, recruit, motivate and retain the best people that the market can offer. We are always training our resources,” Atugonza says.
As well as being engaged in continuous talent development, Uganda Breweries occasionally hires graduate management trainees in a bid to grow a pipeline of future business leaders. “We have a set of tools for improving people’s skills and increasing their capabilities in line with global trends. We are constantly training both on the job and off the job, and Uganda Breweries has been recognised with the employer of choice award from the Federation of Uganda Employers Association,” Atugonza tells us. “Our employees are fully engaged as evidenced in the F19 your voice scores which is a tool we use to measure the engagement level of our human capital.
As well as continuous skills development, values are also at the heart of the company’s staff engagement. Those values form a critical element of Uganda Breweries’ corporate strategy, influencing the way they work every day and everywhere. These corporate values serve as a boundary, a sphere within which every member of the company takes individual responsibility to nurture the company’s growth. The result is that Uganda Breweries is in a prime position to move forward in their chosen market, and Atugonza is clearly excited about the future of the business.
“The future is exciting,” he tells us. “Every year is getting better and better. We recently changed leadership with a new Managing Director coming on board. We have got a global strategy, and we have a set of local strategies to push our vision and ambition as a business.”
We will drink to that!