The fact that hardware sales is one of the few retail sectors to show green shoots during the economic downturn wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic is positioning local manufacturer
to continue on its growth trajectory into 2021. Describing this sector as having “reasonably normalised”, CEO Kim Pratley remarks that this bodes well for the adhesives side of the business.
“I have no doubt that we will continue to grow going forward, especially as we have new products and completely new businesses in the pipeline. However, this has to be taken into context against the parlous state of the South African economy and an overriding business-unfriendly environment that threatens to stymie both employment and entrepreneurship opportunities,” argues Kim.
“I urge all South African companies to lobby the government to focus more on reaching out to local businesses, especially at a provincial level, so that we can all work together to sort out our economy,” urges Kim. Against this difficult trading environment, Pratley’s highlight for 2020 was “not only that we survived and fortunately did not have to retrench any staff, but that we managed to grow.”
Kim attributes this momentum to the fact that Pratley has been very adaptable in its product range, meaning it does not have all of its eggs in one basket. “We practically have a product for every conceivable consumer market, from hair care to adhesives, electrical products, swimming pool filtration media and horticultural growth products.”
This diverse range certainly gives Pratley huge scope for expansion, especially into the informal economy, which is a major consumer of its automotive-repair products, for example. Another major factor is that customers trust the brand, and “we work very hard to retain their loyalty. Our quality statement is unique in that it guarantees our products outperform their competitors globally, which is not a claim that we make lightly.”
The backbone of Pratley continues to be the innovation that results from its intensive research and development drive, which will see several new product launches in 2021. Kim reveals that the company will also ramp up its exports. “We export a fair amount at present but are preparing to increase this quota significantly. It certainly is a strategic focus for us.”
Looking to the future, Kim concludes: “We plan to be around for a long time. Everyone talks about a changing world and business environment. But our core values of integrity, innovation and world-class products will not change. I think people tend to regard Pratley as a stable anchor in South Africa. We would like to continue to be regarded as that.”