National Foods Updates Offices

National Foods Ltd (NFL) has grown to become one of the largest manufacturers and marketers of food products in Zimbabwe and the Southern African region. NFL has a long history stretching back to the early part of the last century, when two families, the Palte family and the Harris family, started separate businesses, which eventually came together as one. The two companies merged, and in the 1970s National Foods Ltd as we now know it, was born. From modest beginnings NFL has grown to become a large organisation which listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. Today the company provides the expertise, technology, manpower and innovations to feed the nation.

NFL boasts of flagship brands which include Gloria, Red Seal, NF Stockfeeds, Pearlenta, Mahatma, and Better Buy. Whenever celebrations and good times happen, the National Foods Snacks and Treats Brands will be there with you. The Portfolio carries the Allegros Popticorn, King, ZapNax and Iris Brands. With flavours almost as rich as our history, we have offerings that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and compliment any mood. Their current headquarters are situated at 10 Stirling Road in Workington, Harare, which include their executive and administrative offices, logistics, milling and processing units, and their bakery research and development laboratory.

(They also have offices and mills in Bulawayo and subsidiary concerns across the country.) Having been at their current premises for many years they recently embarked on a renovation programme to upgrade and modernise their facilities. While being perfectly adequate some sections of the building were looking a little tired and dated and not functioning as well as they could. The renovations were planned to take place in phases with the bakery/laboratory being the first phase. Liz Howes, from Howes and Homes, undertook the refurbishment of the laboratory – which also contains a mini test bakery – in February/March of 2018, which took around five weeks to complete.

The laboratory is in constant use and normal wear and tear had taken its toll over the years. Cabinet doors were falling off, counters and sinks needed updating, the floors were worn, ceilings needed to be repaired or replaced and the lighting needed modernising. The laboratory was basically gutted completely to create a new open plan blank slate. All the original cupboard units were taken out and the existing office partitioning was removed so that the whole layout could be re-configured to work more efficiently. Parts of the ceiling were broken or had been damaged by old leaks so the ceilings throughout were removed and new ceilings and cornices installed.

The old fluorescent lighting was inadequate so new LED lights were fitted which are more energy efficient and improve the overall light quality. To replace the old cupboards brick plinths were built with granite counter tops and granite splashbacks. (The granite was installed by Howes and Homes’ preferred sub-contractor Nyamu Muriwa who also does all their kitchen fit outs.) There are deliberately no doors on the under-counter cupboard units so all the shelving and storage can been seen and needs to be kept neat and orderly. New sanitary ware was installed including taps and mixers as well as sinks and prep bowls. The floor was completely retiled with tiles running up the sides of the brick plinths to make cleaning easier.

A quick lick of paint was applied to all the walls and ceilings and a brand new spick and span bakery was revealed. The second phase of the renovations – again undertaken by Howes and Homes – took place earlier this year in July and August, over a period of seven weeks. Refurbishments were done to the second floor of the office block which can be considered the executive section as it includes the CEO’s office and the upstairs reception area, the boardrooms and meeting rooms, as well as the boardroom kitchen and the executive ablutions. It also includes the lobby at the lifts and a wing of departmental offices leading off of long corridors.

The original décor and fittings had become tired and a little run down and needed to be modernised and refreshed, both to improve the environment for the staff and to upgrade the corporate image of the company. The old beige and cream décor scheme had long become outdated and a steel gate at the entrance to the second floor was particularly unappealing. The row of offices along the corridor were closed off by solid partitioning making them feel cramped and disconnected. The most immediately striking improvement is that a unified colour scheme has been employed.

The floors have been carpeted throughout (except for one of the boardrooms) with smart, hardwearing dark blue/grey tiles. The tiles are easy to replace if they become stained or worn. Crisp white colonial style skirting draws a neat line between the darker floors and pale grey walls. Down the long (formerly rather dreary) passageway solid dry-wall partitioning has been removed and replaced with aluminium and glass partitions. The glass partitions have stick on vinyl designs (supplied by Signs of the Times) which look like the company logo has been sandblasted onto them. The glass has the effect of making both the passageway and the offices feel lighter and bigger and the staff don’t feel so isolated and cut off any more.

In the CEOs office the old bulkhead has been removed and replaced with a flat ceiling that makes the room feel more spacious and less cluttered. Old worn blinds have been replaced throughout by dark blue vertical blinds (supplied by Ashley Smith Interiors). The bigger boardroom has roll down black out blinds for media presentations. Where there are fitted wooden cabinets in the offices they have been painted plain white and new handles have been fitted which immediately gives the cabinets a new lease on life for very little expense.

The kitchen has been totally refurbished, with new white melamine doors and black granite tops and splash backs. New floor tiles have been fitted with smart aluminium skirting which is easy to clean. Provision has been made for the microwave and new taps and sinks complete the makeover. Both the ladies’ and the gents’ ablutions have been similarly transformed and updated. The ablutions were gutted, new wall and floor tiles fitted, as well as new black granite counter tops with stand-on-top basins. Because they were still being used it was difficult to accomplish all of this without overly disturbing the day to day running of the offices. A lot of the noisy and dusty work had to be done over the weekends to create as little disruption as possible. Howes and Homes managed to achieve all of this in just seven weeks. Phase three, which will include the refurbishment of the first-floor offices, is currently under consideration, and might take place towards the end of this year or early next year. Watch this space to see how it works out!


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