Exclusive: Celsys, formerly listed tech and printing company, shuts down

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

We just learned exclusively that Celsys, a tech, design and printing company which described itself as “A one-stop-shop for integrated communications solutions”, has shut down.

The company was last week closed out from its premises after its landlord evicted it and took over most of the company’s assets apparently in a bid to recover unpaid rentals.

Celsys interim board chairman, Manit Shah, told us that the company has been going through serious viability challenges and had applied for Judicial Administration‎ in a bid to save what was left of it but the application was rejected.

Prior to the closure Celsys, laid off workers last year, as well as in July this year when a court ruling made it possible for companies to let staff go on just 3 months notice. The job cuts however were not enough to save it.

A statement sent to us today by the company’s management noted the following main reasons for the closure:

  • A printing industry that has been in decline for years which has been out-competed by South African imports
  • Expensive raw materials for print
  • High employment costs
  • Amounts owed to it that have not been paid included $165,000 from the now closed bank, Afrasia.

Here’s the statement in full:

Celsys Print has been experiencing extreme hardship and has been incurring substantial losses for many years. It has incurred about $5m of losses in the last five years alone. All these losses, plus some capital expansion projects, have been funded solely by way of loans from the majority shareholder, Blueberry Limited. The total Liabilities of the company are circa $6.75m of which over 80% or circa $5.5m is owed to this majority shareholder and relates to their funding. Third party creditors, net of current assets, are owed around $725k.

One of the main reasons for the collapse of the company has been the rapid decline of the Print Industry in Zimbabwe since 2008, and the general economic environment in the country.

Paper and Ink are the main inputs for any printer. Zimbabwe has not had a domestic paper and ink manufacturing industry for the longest time. Hence Zimbabwe has been forced to import both of these inputs. The duty structure in the country for the last many years has been such that there is a 15% duty levied on paper and inks plus 15% Vat. On the other hand, there is only a 5% duty and 0% Vat when importing “printed material.” Hence it has been circa 25% cheaper to import “printed material” rather than printing locally in Zimbabwe.

The biggest competitors of Celsys over the years have been South African printers who have been taking away most of the bulk and repeat print orders in Zimbabwe. The South African Rand has declined 60% since 2013 from ZAR 8.5 per US dollar on 1st Jan 2013 to ZAR 13.7 to US dollar recently. This has made South African printers much cheaper and efficient as their overheads have become 60% cheaper compared to US dollar Zimbabwean overheads in recent times. In particular, the cost of employees has been very high in Zimbabwe and due to the economic circumstances productivity has been low. As a result, Celsys Print has been put to further strain and struggle since it has carried one of the largest overheads among domestic printers as it has been one of the biggest Zimbabwean printers based on installed capacity. The adverse duty implications for Zimbabwean Printers as against South African printers have added to the woes of the Industry.

Another reason that Celsys has had a set-back is because of the big debt that is owed to it by Afriasia Bank. Prior to its liquidation, the bank was leasing 20 ATMs from Celsys and the arrangement was that Afriasia Bank would pay a leasing fee every month. Afriasia Bank, however, struggled to pay for the ATMs and their debt has accumulated to a staggering bill of US$165 000. Afriasia Bank has since been placed under liquidation and payments of this amount have not been forthcoming. This amount would have been very useful to turn around Celsys’ position. A further US$200 000 plus has not been paid by other debtors. Had these debts been paid the company would have been in a better position.

The last five years of losses have resulted in Celsys accumulating massive debts, mainly to its principal shareholder. This shareholder has thankfully been funding the losses of the company and as a result have put in circa $5.5m as Shareholder loans in the hope of reviving the company and keeping it alive. Through this, the Board and Management of Celsys have made every effort to resuscitate the business in order to provide a livelihood for its workers.

After a lot of effort, the company had managed to cut its cost base but revenues have collapsed even more, and there are no margins. The Management of the company believed that given the company’s current state of affairs and cost structure, it could get to a point where it can earn enough to pay all its current obligations and then grow from there. Break even revenues had been reduced from $210,000 per month to $75,000 per month but even getting those revenues is proving to be a struggle given dumping from South Africa. The recent change in the structure on import duties whereby importers of printed material will now pay a higher duty will also have had a positive impact on the business of Celsys. For this reason the Management believed that Celsys had a chance of surviving and could continue to provide employment to its workers and continue to  contribute to the Zimbabwean economy given the right environment. An application was accordingly made for Judicial Management but was not approved by the Courts as the Judge could not be convinced that the company had a future.

Following the rejection of this application, Celsys Limited’s landlord, The Hindoo Society, sent The Sherriff in and the company was evicted from its premises on 15th October. The company has been locked out and as a result has very few options and hence may be put under liquidation as a few creditors have indicated their intention to apply for forced liquidation.

Celsys was voluntarily suspended from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in August 2012. It sought to be readmitted last year in September but was not.

Celsys joins a multitude of Zimbabwean companies that have either shut down or have entered Zombie mode in the last year or so due to biting deflation.


  1. justin

    We have an anti Zimbabwe Zimbabwean government! They charge more duty on raw materials than Finished product!

    We need lobby groups in Zimbabwe

    1. Okech

      I have said many times that we need massive consumer activism but everyone is scared and we spend all our time wasting time. The rich buy time and the poor waste it? Everyone knows the time wasters we enjoy that make us poor?

    2. Tapiwa

      What if the country is run by the business people not by politicians??

      1. tinm@n

        By virtue of running the country, you become a politician.

  2. jongwe

    another one bites the dust. so sad. zvichati nakirawo rini isu vana ve zimbabwe? tofa nenhamo here vakomana. zvinga gadzirika sei?

  3. Farai


    1. Tapiwa

      Ndarwadziwa, as if was working there

  4. TC uchadonha kunge damba.

    FROLGATE TECH is next,chi company chiya chino runner kunge tuckshop,too many debts owed to suppliers,late delivery of orders buying expensive cars on credit and struggling to pay back.

    1. macd chip

      Exactly! There was one time l almost got a job their but after a lot of considerations, l chose not to go ahead.
      The CEO is always out of the country flying business class everytime. Now the workers are not being paid and things are falling apart.

      1. Rr

        What happened last time i rememver frolgate was the best in what they did their proces were reasonable (read a patchpanel africom charged exobitant 200 they charged 65 and the labour was sensible not cheap but veryafforfable) the service was excellent and the guys were professional. Did they change ceos or some other shakeup happen

        1. macd chip

          Im reliably informed that things are not well there. Workers are not being paid and some are already jumping the ship.
          The CEO is spending more time on the plane than his office.

    2. macd chip

      Anyone remember Aptics?

  5. The Engineer

    Sad indeed. I do hope Minister Zhuwao is reading this. Economic Empowerment is creating an enabling environment which allows Zimbabweans to be “employed” and in other instances to become employers. South Africa enjoys considerable advantage over Zimbabwe and this story underscores this reality. Cry my beloved country, while we are looking east, South Africa is looking everywhere including Zimbabwe and “dumping” goods and services!

    1. macd chip

      Zhuwawo does not live in a real world, just like all our ministers.
      I watched his statement about unlocking $50 billion in the Zimbabwean diaspora, l just wondered where he got his numbers from. Was this done based on research or what.

      I have access to diaspora am lm not worth even a $100000.00 let alon most Zimbos. How many Zimbos are outside to command such fugure from our minister.

      Has he ever live in the diaspora as a ordinary member of society and have a real test of life.

  6. celwho?

    So what exactly was Celsys focus? they renting ATMS, and then what else?

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