The Business Year

Sergio Limonti

ANGOLA - Industry

Sergio Limonti

CEO, Webcor Group

Bio

Before being appointed CEO of Webcor Group in June 2022, Sergio Limonti was head of industry and deputy CEO of the Group. Prior to joining Webcor, he held several leadership positions at Arcor Group, where he worked for 28 years. When he joined the company in 1990, he quickly became known as a leader who could bring a broad range of innovation and development to Arcor’s businesses across the Americas. Most recently, he was Arcor’s managing director for Central, North America, and Overseas. Sergio is originally from Argentina and lives between Angola and the UAE. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in marketing.

"Angoalissar started out in the FMCG food sector and is currently the country’s largest distribution company."

Angoalissar, part of Webcor Group, is one of the largest food importers and distributors in Angola. Tell us more about its growth and development trajectory since its founding.

Angoalissar started out in the FMCG food sector and is currently the country’s largest distribution company, with three different business units – soft commodities, FMCGs and frozen foods. These include both our own and multinational brands like Red Bull, Philip Morris, Kelloggs, Pringles, and Arcor, among others. Our own brands, being Angolan and on the market for 30 years, are national FMCG leaders. Over the past decade, the government has provided more incentives and advantages to boost local production and, because we’ve been producing in Angola since 1993, with our mattress manufacturing company IMEX and a paint factory, we were amongst the first to take this initiative seriously. This initiative also promotes local food manufacturing, historically hampered by the lack of certain basic ingredients, encouraging us to invest in the Grandes Moagens de Angola. This sparked a change in our business model. Distribution is increasingly dependent on locally manufactured goods, so we’re strengthening the distribution network which, by 2027, should be one hundred percent locally supplied. We plan to build a value chain, investing in local factories and including local manufacturers, and using our shipping charter expertise. This also gives us the opportunity of raising the bar when it comes to sustainability and rethinking the industrialization model. The UN SDGs are a fundamental component of modern industry. We’re highly aware of the stakes when it comes to SDG and ESG issues and consumer perceptions and expectations and we would like to be an African and international benchmark for sustainable industrial development.  We’re also expanding our areas of expertise to take into account product price sensitivity and bringing in international partners that can apply their expertise to growing first-class industries domestically. In fact, Arcor, the world’s third largest confection producer, is now keen to produce in Angola.

As a company already working with over 300 national and international brands, and partners that are significant for both Webcor and Angola, are you planning on becoming the official distributor for certain international brands in the region?

Yes, some of our top brands are already in Angola and Mozambique. And we believe we are strategically positioned to trade in both Central and West Africa, moving into the south of Congo, and eventually the rest of that market, all the way to Zambia. From Mozambique, Zimbabwe could be serviced from Beira, or from Luhito, depending on cost-effective logistics. Arcor is already looking at exporting to South Africa.

Supply chains sometimes suffer from operational management due to all the factors involved. How do you reassure your clients of the company’s capacity on this front?

It can be costly fulfilling the supply chain to our customers because shipping companies often neglect our region in favor of other countries. However, by planning ahead, we’ve mastered the challenge of maintaining three to four months of buffer stocks to continue supplying our consumers with product and manufacturers with raw material. In my view, it is a matter of investment and better planning, something we’d like to see the rest of Africa doing so that we can strengthen local manufacturing and avoid being susceptible to global supply chain inadequacy.

How did you differentiate yourself in the Angolan market?

The Angolan consumer is loyal to local brands and ensuring a consistent supply has contributed in a major way to this loyalty. Africa is one continent, but clearly every country displays different consumer behavior. Spending time in the markets is invaluable in understanding the various country preferences.

Going forward, what are your long-term goals?

We will continue to focus mainly on Angola of course, with a long-term strategy of building an Angola-dependent value chain. We are already working with local farmers, supplying them with everything from seeds to crop protection and fertilizers. From there we go to local manufacturing, branding, wholesaling and marketing, thereby creating the entire value chain providing the most accessible, highest quality product for consumers. And maintaining our strong market position. If needed, we will also enter into partnerships with any firm that can meet our requirements domestically.

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