Riaz Haffejee, the new chief executive officer of the South African unit of India’s Apollo Tyres Group is keen to firmly establish the company’s foray into the rest of Africa market.

Apollo has sunk in massive investments into its South African tyre manufacturing division and Haffejee has revealed that the company is keen to take advantage of its capacity to expand into Africa.

“Apollo Tyres SA exports to 32 countries in Africa. We manufacture about 300 000 truck and bus tyres and 2.5 million passenger tyres a year from our manufacturing plants in Durban and Ladysmith,” the Mercury newspaper quoted him saying on Thursday.

Nearly 40 percent of the tyres produced in SA is for export markets, with Haffejee adding that “in terms of value” most of the company’s “exports are to Africa”.

“As head of Apollo Tyres SA, I effectively have to take care of expanding the business on two continents. Dunlop is a major brand for us, especially in South Africa and the rest of the continent,” he said.

Apollo employs about 1 700 employees in South Africa, in addition to around 500 workers it employs in Zimbabwe where it also has a unit.

In the quarter to the end of December, Apollo reported flat revenue growth in spite of lower prices of rubber. On average, rubber prices declined by about 14 percent against the year earlier period.

The African operations rose by 6 percent, contributing to stronger margins as revenues from Europe declined by 2.7 percent. This translates to stronger revenue base from the group’s African operations.

Haffejee, who has replaced Luis Ceneviz, a Brazilian national who left the South African operation in January following his appointment as head of Apollo’s Netherlands based company, Vredestein, is a firm believer in the prospects that the African tyre market has to offer.

Under a new structure, the South African unit of Apollo will target expansion opportunities in Africa and Latin America while the Indian centre will be used as a Launchpad into Asia, Australia and Middle East markets.

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