ART Corporation says revenue for the first quarter to December 31, 2020 grew 23 percent, thanks to improvements in the business environment during the review period.
The group acknowledged relative stability of the exchange rate on the foreign currency auction system, although the business continued to rely on its export earnings and local free funds to sustain raw material imports.
“The operating environment in the first quarter ended 31 December 2020 improved following the easing of Covid-19 trading restrictions.
“There supply of electricity improved during the period although the cost continued to escalate as prices were aligned to the prevailing foreign currency auction rates,” said chief executive officer Milton Macheka in a trading update for the quarter.
Overall volumes for the quarter rose 26 percent compared to the same period last year as a result of improved product availability. Export earnings increased by 7 percent compared to same period in the prior year.
According to the group, the batteries business segment maintained production volumes following the easing of the restrictions during the period and managed to record a 48 percent increase in sales volumes compared to the prior year.
Battery export sales volumes were 5 percent ahead of same period last year.
Chloride Zambia volumes increased by 7 percent compared to the same period last year as a result of improved product availability and distribution.
The paper divisions, Kadoma Paper Mills and National Waste Collections, were adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sales volumes recovered from the low prior year levels by 46 percent at Kadoma Paper Mills and 69 percent at National Waste Collections mainly due to improved power supply.
However, the high cost of raw materials, fuel and electricity had an adverse impact on the business. Waste paper imports were increased as availability of paper in the local market remained a major challenge.
Softex volumes for the quarter inched 4 percent as a result of the improved supply of raw materials and the continued growth of the non-tissue product range.
But Eversharp volumes declined by 22 percent as the scholastic market segment continued to be affected by the pandemic.
“Management’s efforts to grow the export and the non-scholastic markets enabled the division to break-even during the period,” said Mr Macheka.
Timber volumes increased by 8 percent as demand for structural timber remained firm.