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Crown Beverages Celebrates 30 Years Of Refreshing Uganda With Shs340bn Expansion Project

Left-Right: Eugene Willemsen, the PepsiCo CEO of the Africa, Middle East & South Asia (AMESA) region; Dr. Amos Nzeyi, the Crown Beverages Limited Executive Chairman; The Vice President of Uganda, Rtd Major. Jessica Alupo; Paddy Muramiirah, the CBL CEO and former Prime Minister of Uganda, Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda tour the newly commissioned CBL bottling plant. At the back is Major General Jim Muhwezi Katugugu, the  Cabinet Minister for National Security and Hon. Mwebesa Francis, Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives.

Crown Beverages Limited, the franchise bottler for PepsiCo, Inc., in Uganda on April 5th 2023, officially inaugurated its multimillion-dollar bottling plant at Kakungulu, Kajjansi Town Council, on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.

The commissioned plant, built at a cost of USD76 million, is the first phase of a USD90 million expansion project that is being undertaken by the bottler in an effort to meet new demand domestically and in the region, as well as expand its product portfolio to meet new and emerging consumer tastes and preferences.

The second phase that is already underway is scheduled to be completed in November this year at a cost of USD 24 million.

The bottling plant was officially commissioned by the Vice President of Uganda, Rtd Major. Jessica Alupo, who represented the President of Uganda, Gen. H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Also present, and leading a delegation from PepsiCo, was Eugene Willemsen, the CEO Africa, Middle East & South Asia (AMESA) region.

Several cabinet ministers and other government officials including Hon. Mwebesa Francis, Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives and his deputy, Hon. David Bahati as well as Major General Jim Muhwezi Katugugu, the  Cabinet Minister for National Security.

“The Kakungulu plant has an installed production capacity of 116,000 bottles per hour. It has the ability to produce 80,000 bottles of carbonated soft drinks and 36,000 bottles of water per hour,” Dr. Amos Nzeyi, the Executive Chairman said.

Left-Right: Eugene Willemsen, the PepsiCo CEO of the Africa, Middle East & South Asia (AMESA) region; Dr. Amos Nzeyi, the Crown Beverages Limited Executive Chairman; The Vice President of Uganda, Rtd Major. Jessica Alupo and former Prime Minister of Uganda, Hon. Amama Mbabazi at the commissioning ceremony of the first of the company’s USD90 million expansion project at Kakungulu, Kajjansi Town Council.

“We still have a new site that we have embarked on at Kakungulu. The lines have been bought, and are to be installed in the under-construction buildings. The buildings will be finished in three months and the two new lines installed starting September this year and will start operating on 1st November 2023,” he added.

The expansion has been financed by shareholder contributions, Citibank and Stanbic Bank, as well as PepsiCo.

“I would like to thank my fellow shareholders and directors, Chris Kayoboke and Prof. Maggie Kigozi for their commitment to Crown Beverages Limited over the 30 years. I would also like to express our gratitude to the management and staff of CBL for standing by us over the years. We couldn’t have done this without you,” Dr. Nzeyi reiterated.

Armed with a franchise from PepsiCo, Crown Beverages purchased the assets of the then government-owned Lake Victoria Bottling Company on 28th February 1993 and has severally invested and reinvested in the business, growing it from a small bottler reliant on government subsidies to produce just 1.8 million cases of a few soda brands annually, to now a robust bottler, producing 65 million cases, distributed across the region.

The company employs up to 10,000 people directly and indirectly across its distribution chain and paid UGX200 billion in taxes in 2022.

Crown Beverages Limited bottles Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Mirinda Fruity, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Pineapple, Mirinda Green Apple, Evervess Tonic, Sting Energy Drink and Nivana Water. Nivana comes in two varieties, namely; still and sparkling. In November 2022, CBL unveiled Aquafina, its new brand of bottled drinking water. Aquafina, enriched mineral is a brand of PepsiCo, Inc.,. Uganda is the third country to be allowed by PepsiCo International to bottle the Aquafina brand, after Nigeria and Egypt.

“Our products are available in well over 100,000 retail outlets such as kiosks dukas, groceries, supermarkets, restaurants, canteens and depots countrywide. The company has witnessed continuous growth for the last six years and is currently the market leader of the Ugandan carbonated soft drinks industry,” said Paddy Muramiirah, the Chief Executive Officer.

The phenomenal growth of a respected Ugandan-owned and run businesses

H.E Museveni led a number of stakeholders who hailed CBL’s shareholders and management for the phenomenal transformation of the company into one of Uganda’s most successful and impactful businesses.

“The success of CBL and other formerly government-owned companies vindicates the NRM government’s privatisation strategy. At the time of privatisation, LVBC was only producing only 1.8m cartons of Soda annually. I am happy to note that CBL now produces and sells over 65 million cartons of soda annually. This has made soda products available for everyone in Uganda and regionally,” Mr. Museveni said.

“Before privatisation, the government used to subsidise LVBC which means Ugandans were supporting the company with their taxes. We are happy to note that the company is now supporting Ugandans by providing UGX200 billion in taxes annually. We congratulate Dr. Amos Nzeyi, Mzee Chris Kayoboke and Prof. Maggie Kigozi upon this achievement,” said Museveni, in a speech read for him, by the Vice President.

“The factory that you have just opened this morning that is costing USD90 million is testimony that Dr. Amos Nzeyi, Mzee Chris Kayoboke, and Prof. Margaret Kigozi and their partners have confidence in our government. I commend them for this investment which will provide employment to over 10,000 Ugandans directly and indirectly,” added Mr. Museveni.

On her part, the Vice President lauded the directors and management for leveraging the stable political and economic environment to invest in Uganda as well as “investing and completing the facility in record time⏤7 months and 2 days”, moreover during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“I wanted the CEO, PepsiCo AMESA, to know that you have quality in the person of Dr. Amos Nzeyi, in the promotion of Crown Beverages/PepsiCo in Uganda,” she said.

Mr. Eugene Willemsen, the CEO Africa, Middle East & South Asia (AMESA) at PepsiCo also lauded the shareholders and management of CBL for building one of the most progressive PepsiCo partners in the AMESA region.

“We at PepsiCo are extremely grateful for the phenomenal partnership with Dr. Amos Nzeyi and his fellow Board of Directors, Prof. Maggie Kigozi, Chris Kayoboke, Paddy Muramiirah and the entire Crown Beverages team,” he said, adding: “It is a partnership that has lasted 30 years; a partnership that started with humble beginnings”.

“Over the last 2 years since I started presiding over this region, I got to know Dr. Amos Nzeyi as an absolute gentleman and as a phenomenal, phenomenal business partner; someone who puts his people first, but is also very very competitive. He and his team have grown the business from a low single-digit market share to a business that has over 70% market share. That is extremely outstanding,” he said.

Willemsen said that the expanded state-of-the-art plant, “marks what excellence is about”.

“As we are gearing up for the next chapter in Uganda. We at PepsiCo are extremely proud of what has been accomplished so far and we look forward to a great future here in Uganda. With this facility, we hope to further expand our portfolio and we have started doing so with the addition of Aquafina, which was launched a couple of months ago (in November 2022) and is already beginning to get good market share in the water market,” he said.

Willemsen added that with the growth of PepsiCo presence and impact in Uganda, the company was also reinforcing its commitment to its sustainability agenda in the country that among others covers corporate social investments, the environment, water usage, healthier products with reduced sugar and reducing the composition and weight of plastics in packaging.

“We firmly believe that the success of our business lies in a thriving community. Therefore we are committed to working with CBL to ensure the communities in which we operate in Uganda are thriving,” he reaffirmed.

Other stakeholders who commended CBL for its progressive impact on the socio-economic development of Uganda included the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa; the Chairman of Private Sector Foundation Uganda, Mr. Humphrey Nzeyi and the Chairman of Uganda Manufacturers Association, Mr. Deo Kayemba.

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