The real estate business in Uganda is one of the fastest growing sectors today, almost everyone dreams of building and owning a house someday.
Peter Wasswa, a construction engineer, says one can go commercial, build rentals, a bungalow or a storey house on even the smallest plot with proper planning and it is evident the decade-long construction boom has lead to a rapid expansion of the local paints industry.
According to global growth strategy analyst Frost & Sullivan, the burgeoning of commercial and residential developments in various parts of the country has increased the need for high-quality paints.
Case in point is Kampala’s middle-class suburbs of Ntinda and Kyanja where Chamavil Group owns a fast-growing paint shop a few hundred meters to the Kampala Northern Bypass.
On a rainy Thursday morning, Mr Charles Ssebetya, Chamavil’s General Manager and four of the firm’s porters welcome customers mostly construction painters and owners of smaller hardware shops who flock the business for paints.
But there is a major problem. The rapid growth of the sector has led to an increase of hazardous paints, with nearly three-quarters of decorates available in Uganda containing high amounts of lead.
However, Mr Ssebetya says they are happy with the quality of the paint brands made available by Sadolin’s owners, Dutch global paints and coatings company, AkzoNobel through their new Ugandan local sales and distribution partners Crown Group, manufacturers of Regal Paints.
“Here along Ntinda-Kisaasi road we had many hardware competitors but their customers are pouring here because of the good quality paints that Sadolin supplies,” Ssebetya said. “The paint from most of Sadolin’s rivals is being discarded by painters because it is not safe. We are happy that they supply us with lead-free paint which is good for business.”
He adds: “We have been getting recommendations from painters allover Nakawa Division who tell their compatriots to come and test the Sadolin products we have in stock.
Mr Ssetebya reveals that Chamavil Group Ltd everyday hits double digits in terms of sales for their 20-litre buckets and jerrycans of paint.
“The sales are encouraging and we hope that when we have a full product range, we shall sell more. Sadolin decorates like Beatle Nut, Tobacco, Peanut and Signal Red are commonly asked colours that we have not yet received,” he says.
Ssetebya contends that a portion of the market is confused because of the misleading advertising run by a rival paint company.
One compain claims that “Uganda’s biggest paint company is now called something else” and they aggressively advertise on all mediums. But Ssebetya says as dealers they have played their part in creating awareness.
“I do not understand when they say it is only a change of name but the same paint quality remains,” he says about that company’s adverts. “What we do is explain to them that we are selling them their beloved Sadolin brand that has been a household name for many years.”
“My message for painters out there is to avoid listening to propaganda that one desperate manufacturer is spreading around in media,” he implored.
Sadolin dries faster
MrSemakula Thomas, an agent for Sadolin Paints at Salthose Handling, Nakasero in downtown Kampala says Sadolin’s market share remains unaffected because most customers have understood there was no change in the quality and amount of the paint.
“The feedback I get from buyers is great. One painter from Luzira came here looking for Sadolin Emulsion and confessed to me that he had used a new paint company’s paint the previous week and it took ages to dry. A week later he purchased three times what he had purchased the previous week because Sadolin standards were great.”
He says their Sadolin products are original and of higher quality because the license is by the brand owners Akzo Nobel.
Mr Semakula also lauds the level of professionalism, quality and global best practices that the brand enforces and says he is not looking to change their partner anytime soon.
Origin of paint propaganda
Recently, AkzoNobel cancelled its licensee agreement with Sadolin Paints East Africa, now Kansai Plascon, over breach of contract.
The licensee was purely manufacturing, selling and distributing the Sadolin brand on behalf of AkzoNobel. The new paint firm employed undercut tricks like engaging the media, advertising agencies and all Sadolin distributors and sellers, the simple message being they are Sadolin, “same quality, different name”.
Unfortunately, the previous licensee (who had the permission to manufacture, market, sell and distribute Sadolin paint since 1962) was acquired by a competitor and as such, AkzoNobel gave notice of cancellation of the contract. This was also following deliberate breaches of contract (such as over labelling of Sadolin packs) and the agreement was terminated with immediate effect to protect the Sadolin brand and its supply in Uganda.
“In accordance with the contractual agreement, Kansai Plascon was obliged to sell, market and advertise the Sadolin brand until the end of January 2018. This responsibility has not been upheld and actions by Kansai Plascon indicate deliberate breaches of the contract as evident in the over-labelling of Sadolin packs with Plascon labels. This behaviour, amongst other activities, has left us with no choice but to cancel the agreement,” said Mr Johann Smidt, the managing director for AkzoNobel Decorative Paints in Sub-Sahara Africa. The move meant that Kansai Plascon would no longer trade, manufacture, sell and market Sadolin paints as they were earlier contractually obligated to do until January 2018.
Plascon, in turn, intensified advertising efforts and propaganda with lots of mudslinging in an attempt to dominate the crowded market it has not been any easy getting out the Sadolin name and image in the minds of many clients, especially those from upcountry.
New color, new life
The Sadolin brand went ahead and relaunched on September 28, 2017; at the Sheraton Hotel in a big event hosting major players in the paints industry, state minister of trade, media, among others.
The relaunch saw the announcement of a new sales and distribution partner by AkzoNobel, Crown Paints East Africa who locally operate as Regal Paints. Both AkzoNobel and Crown have shared values of integrity, quality and innovation and the partnership is strategic to ensure that both companies enjoy economies of scale.
“Regrettably following this announcement, there have been claims that Sadolin paint is now Regal Paint in a Sadolin tin. This is however false, inaccurate and untrue. Both brands are different, with different patent formulation of paint. Sadolin is premium paint while Regal is economy paint. Both are completely different and only come to work together on the Sales and distribution network,” clarified Sadolin head of public relations Felix Adupa Ongwech.
Sadolin was founded by Gunnar Sadolin in 1907 and has been owned by AkzoNobel since 1987.