Atlas hires firm to design Ethiopia bottling plant

Tuesday March 1 2016

Atlas Development and Support Services Limited

Atlas Development and Support Services Limited CEO Carl Esprey. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Atlas Development & Support Services, a logistics company cross listed at the Nairobi and London bourses has appointed MH Engineering Plc to provide design services for a proposed bottling plant.

The facility will be located 45 kilometres from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and will have an annual output of 105 million bottles of 330 milliliters.

MH Engineering Plc, an Ethiopian company, will provide architectural, electrical, structural and mechanical designs in relation to the project.

The firm is involved in development of buildings, roads and transportation, engineering feasibility studies and infrastructure projects management.

“The appointment of MH Engineering soon after our fundraising together with the commencement of ground clearing and drilling is a clear demonstration of our commitment to rapidly expand the project into a state-of-the-art bottling facility,” said Atlas chief executive officer Carl Esprey.

Also known as the Chancho Project, the bottling plant is Atlas’ first venture outside the logistics business whose fortunes declined with the plunge in crude prices forcing the company to exit the Kenyan market last year.

EXISTING DEFICIT

The bottling plant targets the existing deficit in supply of locally made glass bottles in the East African region where demand is expected to progress with expansion in the beverages and beer industries.

Last month, Atlas got a 100-year lease for setting up the bottling plant. The firm ventured into the Ethiopia market in November last year with the acquisition of East Africa Packaging Holdings Limited that was the original owner of the bottle manufacturing project.

It is banking on the new industrial division to improve its cash flow whose challenges have seen it pile up debts to Kenyan creditors  amounting to more than Sh400 million.

During the year to June 30, Atlas reported a net loss of Sh1 billion. The firm incurred Sh147 million in finance costs while its operating expenses increased to Sh1.2 billion from Sh262 million incurred during the previous year.