KARACHI: Reckitt Benckiser (RB) will invest between $5 to $15 million in Pakistan this year despite political uncertainty and law and order issues.
“We will focus our investment in manufacturing, expansion of factory, education programmes, communication and consumer coordination,” Salvatore Caizzone, RB’s Executive Vice President, RUMEA Area (Russia, CIS, Middle East and Africa), said in an exclusive interview with Dawn on Tuesday.
“We have no recruitment plan this year but there will definitely be suitable number of employment opportunities based on new initiatives,” he added.
Answering a question about setting up another manufacturing plant in Pakistan, he said, “There is no immediate plan. However, the company will invest in expansion of existing facility, wider distribution network and infrastructure in the country.”
The EVP declined to share the investment made by RB since 1951 saying cumulative figures were not readily available. While the company has already doubled its business in Pakistan in the last four years, he said that RB is further targeting double digit growth in the next two to three years in view of country’s huge potential in terms of market expansion as per its population. He added several new brands had already been launched in the last two years.
The company enjoys almost 10 per cent market share in soaps which has been growing significantly for the last two years, he said.
RB Pakistan is also exporting 15 per cent of its total volume of production to the Middle East, Far East (Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia), Africa (Sub Sahara Africa and South Africa), European Union, Australia and Latin America. However, he did not give the figure of export earnings.
When asked about any negative impact on investment plans in view of deteriorating law and order situation and political uncertainty, Salvatore said: “These situations are not going to scare us as we are taking practical steps like manufacturing, exporting, hiring people etc. I am not scared as I have been coming here for the last 10-15 years.”
He said he does not deny that certain issues like lawlessness exist in Karachi. “I believe in principle that wherever I have people I have to be there,” he said adding he is not scared to travel to Pakistan as he has also been to Nigeria, Lebanon, Kazakhstan etc.
Comparing products prices in Pakistan and India, he said, “I do not believe that products in Pakistan are costlier than India as in many cases our local prices are lower than India.” However, he said the devaluation of the rupee against the dollar is making a negative impact by pushing up cost of production due to costlier import of raw material.
RB contributes over Rs1.7 billion to the national kitty in the form of various taxes and duties. It has one factory in Site Karachi and four offices providing employment to around 5,000 families (1,000 people directly and 4,000 indirectly).
“Pakistan is the sixth largest nation, a population that is very young, growing and a middle class that’s is boldly and visibly emerging and has more money today than it did five years ago. Most importantly, my experience of dealing with Pakistanis is that this nation is resilient and always fights back. Hence Pakistan remains a very important market for RB,” Salvatore summed up.