Outgoing Eveready Plc Managing Director Jackson Mutua has left the company with his head high. Quite literally.
Mutua, a Chartered Acountant joined Eveready at a time when battery piracy was at its peak. While most Companies facing lesser challenges folded, Eveready weathered it all and is still standing strong .
It was during the period between 2006 to 2014 that piracy hit the battery manufacturer hardest, forcing it to stop drycell manufacturing and venture into importation of all it’s products .
It was during Mutua’s reign that the public quoted company paid dividends after a long time last year, giving hope that the company had turned the profitability corner.
Mutua replaced Steven Smith, who was on secondment from the Energizer plc of the US. Smith was recalled after his long battle with Chinese cheap substandard brands, then being dumped in the market and drove the Eveready brand out of charge. It was during his reign that Mutua steadied the Eveready ship which was being swept away by a market tide triggered by counterfeit and dumping racketeers.
During this period, Mutua and the Eveready board penned endless letters to the Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenya Association of Manufacturers complaining bitterly about unfair, unorthodox activities that were being used by Chinese briefcase conmen to drive out Kenyan companies out of their niche.
The complaints fell on deaf ears and were considered as channel noise by a gadfly, viewed as of no consequence by some Government regulators.
It is instructive to note that alot of local companies made similar noise but were left to bleed to death or opt to manufacture their goods elsewhere. East African Cables suffered a similar fate over cheap and substandard imports from India and Afghanistan. Unilever opted to manufacturer their popular products elsewhere leaving behind in its wake, unemployed Kenyan youth. Haco Industries suffered profit cuts despite having a loud chairman in the form of Chris Kirubi. The same with other manufacturers other than Coca Cola whose recipes formulas are fortresses in places only known to the owners. Many did not survive to tell their story.
Mutua will however be remembered for the role he played in navigating the Company through the messy divorce with Energiser PLC.
It so happened that the American company, after realising they were in trouble with competition, and Eveready was not ready to continue with an abusive and unviable relationship decided to terminate their 50 year relationship. Mutua and Eveready, like any other jilted lovers went to court to fight off the new Energizer sweetheart known as Hasber in order to protect it’s shareholders interests against one of them who was out to kill the business.
Eveready was represented in the suit by former Jubillee Election and now a state officer Lawyer Richard Musangi while Energiser was represented by renkown advocate Walker Kondos. Suffice is to say the case is still in court with no end in site.
Even as the two business lovers washed their old linen in court corridors, Mutua managed to author innovative products ranging from car batteries to flashlights while still maintaining the Eveready association with dry cell batteries vide, the now popular turbo brand. One thing is however clear, the noise from Eveready unfair competition and corruption has been vindicated. The Government has lately cracked down on top officials of KEBS on allegations of unethical practices. These are before a court of law and they remain just that. Allegations.
By Henry Kimoli
Henry Kimoli commends on topical issues. The views expressed above are his own and not necessarily shared by Uzalendo News