In October 2021 CFI holdings resumed trading on the ZSE. This brought to an end their suspension from trading that lasted over three and a half years. CFI was suspended for violating ZSE’s free float requirements (section 87); a rule that states that at least 20% of the shares of the company must be available for trading ie not in the hands of insiders or related parties. After sorting out their issues with the satisfaction of the ZSE CFI returned to reprice to levels consistent with the current economy and monetary state and has since then performed very well. Let’s have a look at CFI and understand just how big a deal it is.
CFI holdings is an agro-industrial company that has diversified interests in farming, inputs and food processing. Established as the Farmer’s Cooperative Society in 1908. The company was listed on the ZSE in 1997. The ride has not been easy for CFI with a suspension in 2015 for failing to publish financial statements and another suspension in 2018 for failing to meet free float requirements. The group today has 4 business units; retail division, farming division, milling division and properties division. The various divisions boast some of Zimbabwe’s biggest and most recognisable brands of years gone by and present times.
The retail division is headlined by Farm & City centre, which previously operated under the Farmer’s Co-op brand. This covers the supply of agricultural inputs and equipment to farmers. With a network of 52 branches across Zimbabwe, it is as big as they come. 2 of the 52 branches were opened during their 2021 financial year. The retail division also includes VETCO, which supplies inputs and chemicals for animal care and husbandry.
CFI’s farming division includes big names. Among them is Glenara Estates, which is a large farming estate that rears broiler chickens as well as the farming potatoes, maize, seed maize, soya beans and sugar beans. Glenara estates also have interests in cattle pen fattening. Suncrest is the brand through which CFI sells its broiler chickens and in days gone by it was one of the biggest poultry producers in the country with a heavy presence in the poultry market. Hubbard Zimbabwe is a well-known supplier of day-old chicks to the poultry industry. It too has seen its star shine brighter in the past in Zimbabwe. To complement this Crest breeders a leading supplier of poultry breeding services in Zimbabwe gives CFI a 360-degree influence in the poultry industry in Zimbabwe. The poultry units have suffered many setbacks including legal wrangles over the property (more on this later) and are currently being rehabilitated to regain their influence and dominance of days gone by.
The jewel in the crown of the milling division is Victoria foods, one of the most recognisable milling brands in Zimbabwe. Victoria offers more than milling as it has influential brands in snacks, staple foods and general food processing. Victoria foods was released from judicial management in 2021 and look to regain its position in the market. Agrifoods, a supplier of agricultural feed for poultry, pigs, cattle and other small livestock in Zimbabwe is another recognisable brand in the CFI milling division. The brand services both farmers and retail customers. Agrimix complements Agrifoods by providing support and consultancy services to livestock farmers.
The Property division manages an area known as Saturday Retreat or Ushewokunze located in Harare South. This is land that was acquired by land barons and allocated to homeowners for low-cost housing. CFI fought a long battle but was finally recognised as the legal owner of the land through Crest Breeders in 2015. Residents were then ordered to make payments to CFI as compensation to regularise their ownership. This process has not gone smoothly but CFI is committed to the project. CFI proceeded with plans to develop the land in March of 2021. The property portfolio also includes another development, Suncrest park which is moving towards the development stage while another property interest Langford Estates is still undergoing legal proceedings.
CFI has a large footprint in Zimbabwe’s agriculture and related ins=dustries though it has certainly seen better days. It’s legal troubles with battles over land and whole business units going into judicial management. It does look, at least for the moment, as though better days are on the horizon for CFI.