A myriad of South African companies are being placed under increasing financial constraints as a result of the poor performance and volatility of the rand. Manufacturers importing raw materials from abroad are particularly hard-hit by a double-edged sword – rising production costs and a customer base with diminishing purchasing power. TAL is no exception to this trend.
Despite these challenges, Manga indicates that the company increased sales volumes and staff numbers during 2015. He attributes this ongoing success to the company’s proactive approach in swiftly adapting to change. “We import from US dollar and Euro regions, and the poor exchange rate performance has meant price increases well above inflation.”
“In order to prevent these increases being passed on to our customer base, we have streamlined internal efficiencies within our own organisation, thereby mitigating exponential costs in the market place, while not only preventing job losses, but in fact creating employment opportunities and consolidating our position as the market leader in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa,” he explains.
With interest rates increasing by 50 basis points in February, and economists predicting further rate hikes during the course of the year, Manga reveals that there has been a noticeable trend of consumers moving away from new project developments, and instead opting to take the renovation and DIY routes in an attempt to offset rising costs. This has worked to TAL’s advantage.
“TAL is a trusted brand that has earned a reputation for offering high-quality products that are backed up by excellent after-sales support. In a challenging economic climate, we don’t compromise on quality and integrity to achieve short-term cost savings. This is evident in the loyalty of our customers, who understand that they receive unrivalled long-term value through TAL,” says Manga.
Innovation is key to competitiveness
According to Manga, TAL’s corporate culture and commitment to product innovation ensures that South Africa remains at the forefront of international tiling and flooring trends. “We have invested substantially into a state-of-the-art laboratory that features a team of dedicated chemists that test local products and benchmark them to international standards.”
TAL also boasts a new product development team that attends industry conferences around the globe, in order to remain abreast of the latest international trends. “There is always room for improvement and, by attending these conferences in more industrialised markets, we are able to ensure that the South African market is immediately exposed to new innovations,” adds Manga.
TAL is ISO 9001:2008 quality management system certified and its products are designed, manufactured and tested according to its high-quality standards. TAL places a strong emphasis on environmental responsibility, and most of its products conform to the requirements stipulated by the Green Building Council of South Africa in lowering emissions of harmful volatile organic compounds.
A rich heritage spanning five decades
TAL’s South African legacy spans over 50 years, from modest beginnings in the 1960s to becoming a major leader in the tile adhesive market. In the 1970s, TAL successfully converted the local tile market from mortar (sand and cement) fixing to tile adhesive fixing. TAL also pioneered rapid-set technology in tile adhesives and developed self-levelling screeds to meet the evolving needs of the South African contracts market.
This strong foundation in South Africa serves as a platform for the company to achieve measurable growth across Sub-Saharan Africa. Manga points out that this market generally relies on mortar fixing. “Although initially cheaper, this process is more time-consuming and requires more material. Our aim is to educate this market on the benefits of adhesive fixing. We have dedicated teams that regularly visit and train contractors throughout the region to ensure success at grassroots level.”
TAL is also experiencing steady growth with its construction product division that specialises in underlayments and concrete decorative overlayments, industrial resin flooring and waterproofing. “TAL continues to develop its reputation for being a one-stop-shop for all tiling and flooring solutions, by offering a comprehensive range of high-quality products for all of these needs.”
Looking ahead, Manga anticipates 2016 to be another challenging year. “To date, we have displayed our resilience and adaptability by achieving growth in difficult conditions. Although there are not many signs of economic improvement for 2016, we remain optimistic of maintaining continued growth, not only in South Africa, but across the continent,” he concludes.