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Report card: Mark Ocitti p’Ongom’s 3 years at UBL

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Mark Ocitti (centre) surrounded by his predecessor, Nyimpini Mabunda (right) and successor, Alvin Mbugua (left). Ocitti has built on Nyimpini’s legacy to grow UBL’s market share, a trend, Alvin Mbugua needs to keep running.

It is official, Mark Ocitti is leaving Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) after his 3-year term elapses at the end of this month.

Ocitti, is the second Ugandan to lead UBL, after Baker Magunda, since it was taken over by global drinks giant, Diageo and heads to Serengeti Breweries Limited, another Diageo subsidiary.

With over 20 years of business leadership in oil & gas, telecoms and beverages sectors, the Makerere University and Herriot-Watt alumnus joined UBL in August 2016 from Nairobi where he was Managing Director of the East African Breweries Limited (International Division) to replace Nyimpini Mabunda, who was returning back-home to South Africa.

But what has been his impact on the business?

In a statement released to media houses, said: “I am happy to say that I have played my part. And a positive part in the last three years. My three years have been exciting, challenging and fulfilling.”

Ocitti plays golf at one of the tournaments sponsored by Tusker Malt Lager one of EABL’s premium beers. Much of the growth at UBL in Ocitti’s tenure was largely attributed to premium beers and innovation brands like Uganda Waragi Coconut.

Although he neither delved into details of his challenges and fulfilments, nor shared his financial performance, a research done by CEO East Africa Magazine, shows Ocitti inherited a gross sales revenue book of UGX377.8 billion and a profit of UGX34.6 billion for the year, ended March 2016.

ALSO READ: https://www.ceo.co.ug/finance-guru-alvin-mbugua-replaces-mark-ocitti-as-uganda-breweries-md/

By end of March 2017, sales revenue grew by 6.5% to UGX402.5bn and in the year ending March 2018, sales revenue jumped by a further 6% to UGX426.7bn, marketing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) across the 3 years of 4%.         

Ocitti’s predecessor, pitches Uganda Waragi Coconut to a prospective customer, during one the UBL sponsored events. Uganda Waragi has been and continues to be a key contributor to UBL’s growth

Perhaps worth noting, is that during his time Ocitti narrowed down the gap between UBL and Nile Breweries, their arch-rivals from UGX189bn in 2016 to UGX126.4 billion. UBL’s gross sales for 2016 was UGX377.8bn compared to NBL’s 567.7bn while in 2017 UBL sold UGX402.5bn worth of drinks compared to NBL’s 528.9bn.

Even though across his 3 years in office, sales revenue grew, increased cost of doing business underpinned by higher taxation of the alcohol sector ate into the business’ profits.

In the year ending March 2017 profits reduced from UGX34.6 billion to UGX12.4 billion. As at March 2018, profits picked up to UGX18.1 billion.

A relaxed Ocitti poses for a photo with staff at UBL’s 70th Anniversary staff retro-look party in 2016.

According to a 2018 results presentation, this growth was underpinned by great performance by Bell Lager, Uganda Waragi and Guinness brands.

During Ocitti’s time, UBL also invested in UGX20bn waste treatment plant and a UGX13bn glass bottling line as well as UGX2.5bn in various social projects.   

Ocitti will be replaced by Alvin Mbugua, the former UBL Finance Director.

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UBL board hails Mark Ocitti for resounding growth and innovation

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Alvin Mbugua (right), the incoming UBL Managing Director, receives the traditional Bell from UBL Board Chairman , Japheth Katto (Centre) and outgoing MD, Mark Ocitti (left)

The Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) Board of Directors, has hailed outgoing its Managing Director, Mark Ocitti for what they called: “great milestones, resounding business growth, capacity expansion, impactful community projects in education, sanitation and a spirited, empowered staff.”

Addressing a farewell press conference, on Thurday, July 11th attended by UBL’s senior and middle management as well as members of the media, UBL board Chairman Japheth Katto, said that Ocitti’s 3 years at the brewery have set up a great foundation to deliver future “great performances” thereby “returning significant value to our investors for years to come.”

 “In the last 3 years, the business has registered a year-on-year average growth rate of over 30% in volumes and over 6% in topline delivery, which has cemented our market leadership of over 54% of market share by value in Total Beverage Alcohol (TBA) in beer and spirits,” said an excited Katto.

“We have significantly grown our numeric distribution by over 25%, which has manifested in the distinctive visibility and increased availability of key brands like Bell, Pilsner, Tusker Lite and Guinness. This is reflected in the growth of the retail outlets handling our products by 28,000 outlets in 3 years thus growing the households we impact positively by over 80,000,” he added.

Although Kato did not delve into the specific details of UBL’s financial performance under Ocitti, CEO East Africa Magazine, understands that Ocitti inherited a gross turnover book of UGX377.8 billion and a profit of UGX34.6 billion for the year, ended March 2016.

Alvin Mbugua and Japheth Katto at a cocktail hosted for business captains and UBL stakeholder to welcome Mbugua and say farewell to Mark Ocitti

By end of March 2017, sales revenue grew by 6.5% to UGX402.5bn and in the year ending March 2018, sales revenue jumped by a further 6% to UGX426.7bn- a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% across the 3 years.      

During this time, Ocitti who is a sales and commercial expert by background, narrowed down the gap between UBL and Nile Breweries, their arch-rivals from UGX189bn in 2016 to UGX126.4 billion- UBL’s gross turnover for 2016 was UGX377.8bn compared to NBL’s 567.7bn while in 2017 UBL sold UGX402.5bn worth of drinks compared to NBL’s 528.9bn.

Ocitti’s exciting, challenging and fulfilling 3 years

Mr. Ocitti is heading to Tanzania as the Managing Director for Serengeti Breweries Limited, a member of the East African Breweries Group and as such, part of Diageo, effective August 1, 2019.  Ocitti who possesses over 20 years of business leadership in Oil & Gas, telecoms and beverages sectors, is the second Ugandan to lead UBL after Baker Magunda is also the second Ugandan Managing Director within the Diageo family working on the African continent, outside their home market. Ocitti also joins 14 other Ugandans that Uganda Breweries has exported to Diageo’s affiliate companies in Kenya and the United Kingdom.

“On behalf of the Board and our investors, I thank you, Mark for your hard work and delivering on your commitment to build and grow the business you were given charge of. Your stewardship has sustained our leadership in innovation, delivered market share command and significantly improved the opportunity for our consumers to access their favorite brands. We challenge you to carry the winning attitude you infused in the staff and fly the Ugandan flag high in Tanzania and wherever else you will go after that,” he said.

Part of Uganda Breweries’ beer and spirits product portfolio. Katto said that Ocitti’s 3 years in leadership had seen UBL register a year-on-year average growth rate of over 30% in volumes and over 6% in topline delivery, which cemented the brewer’s market leadership of over 54% of market share by value in Total Beverage Alcohol (TBA) in beer and spirits.

Mark will be succeeded by Alvin M. Mbugua

A seasoned commercial professional, Mbugua joined East African Breweries Limited (EABL) in May 2013 as the Group Finance Controller before transitioning to Uganda as Finance and Strategy Director in October 2015. Prior to his new appointment, Mbugua was Head of Sales of the biggest Sales division in Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), a role that he has held for the last 17 months.

Mbugua was also recognized as 2017 Chief Finance Officer of the Year and took home the Strategy Execution Award at the Annual CFO Awards organized by the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Deloitte Uganda.

On his part, Ocitti said he was “really honored to have presided over Uganda Breweries at a time when it has achieved the kind of growth that has been spelled out by my Chairman,” he said adding that the three years had been “exciting, challenging and fulfilling all at the same time.”

He said the three years, had “defined the legacy of Uganda Breweries for years to come” as UBL had “received the most overwhelming stamp of approval from our consumers as they sampled one or more each of our wide category of alcoholic beverages.  

Mbugua and Katto exchange performance pledge documents.

“I am really honored to have presided over Uganda Breweries at a time when it has achieved the kind of growth that has been spelled out by my Chairman,” he said adding that the three years had been “exciting, challenging and fulfilling all at the same time.”

Truly, truly excited to be back

Welcoming Mbugua, Katto said that he was confident in his abilities to lead the company forward as Uganda’s most trusted, respected and celebrated company.

“I have no doubt that the leader we are getting in Mr. Mbugua will enable us to continue to deliver unprecedented sustainable growth whilst continuing to drive a winning culture for our staff so we can export more Ugandan talent to take over more corners of this continent,” said Kato.

Alvin Mbugua is a seasoned business leader. In 2017, while working as Finance & Strategy Director at UBL, he was crowned CFO of the Year at the ACCA and Deloitte organised awards. He also took home the Strategy Execution award.

Mbugua, who said he was “truly, truly excited to be back” said his return was a in “a big way a continuation of the building blocks” laid before when he was Finance & Strategy Director and that he returns as a “much more experienced and fine leader” following the commercial role he played in Nairobi, after Uganda.  

“I truly feel humbled to be taking the stewardship of the 4th largest tax payer in Uganda. It is no light task, I must bear witness to that. Chairman, with the confidence that comes from the board and yourself, I really want to lay out and commit, on behalf of myself and my team, that we will continue the great work and achievements left by Mark Ocitti and the other MDS who left before,” he said.

“UBL has been around now for over 70 years. We are the generation that is taking UBL into the 2020s and see UBL become 80 years old; it is no mean feat and we do not take it lightly. We understand what our forefathers have done before, we appreciate what Mark and his team have done up to this point and ours is to continue the heritage; that great story and hopefully, pass over a company to the next generation that is far greater than what we found it. That is the only gift that we can give back to Uganda, the young people coming up, and to ourselves, as we serve in leadership at this time,” he said.

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Finance guru, Alvin Mbugua replaces Mark Ocitti as Uganda Breweries MD

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Incoming Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) Managing Director, Alvin Mbugua. He replaces Mark Ocitti p'Ongom who heads to to Diageo's Serengeti Breweries in Tanzania

Alvin Mbugua, has been appointed Managing Director, at Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) CEO East Africa Magazine, can reliably confirm.

Alvin, as he is known by all his former colleagues at UBL, replaces Mark Ocitti p’Ongom who heads to Tanzania as Managing Director for Serengeti Breweries Limited, another Diageo subsidiary.

An ACCA Fellow, Alvin holds a (BsC) Geospatial Engineering from the University of Nairobi and Master of Commerce Degree (MCom) in Development Finance from the University of Capetown.

He completed his ACCA from Strathmore University in Nairobi. 

Alvin Mbugua receives the 2017 CFO of the Year Award from State Finance Minister, David Bahati. He not only knows Uganda and East Africa well, he is also a well respected leader amongst his peers.

He worked at Shell South Africa where he started as a Systems Financial Consultant in 2006 and headed to Shell Tanzania as CFO between April 2008 and November 2010. He then joined Damco, the global logistics firm as CFO for the East and Horn of Africa region till April 2013.

ALSO READ: https://www.ceo.co.ug/report-card-mark-ocitti-pongoms-3-years-at-ubl/

In May 2013, he joined EABL as Group Financial Controller till September 2015 and in October 2015 he joined UBL as the Finance & Strategy Director till early 2018 when he was recalled to EABL Nairobi and reassigned as Head of Sales at East African Breweries (EABL), a role believed by many including Alvin himself to be prepping him for a CEO role.

While at UBL he was voted CFO of the Year 2017 in the ACCA organised and Deloitte Uganda sponsored awards.  

Part of UBL’s product portfolio and Alvin Mbugua’s arsenal with which he has to conquer Nile Breweries, UBL’s arch-rival

Speaking to the May 2018 Africa edition of Accounting and Business magazine, the ACCA publication, Alvin Mbugua said that as CFO, if given chance, he wouldn’t find a problem being a CEO within the business.

“As CFO, I served on the executive team providing leadership on the key areas of the business,’ he said, adding: ‘Part of the beauty and power of being a leader is that you can move into different roles within an organisation; you can transform.” 

Alvin Mbugua and Mark Ocitti at an earlier press conference in 2016 to announce UBL’s 70th Anniversary celebrations

Speaking clairvoyantly about a possible future CEO role vis-à-vis his new responsibility in sales, Alvin told the Accounting and Business magazine that: A CEO needs to be commercially astute and have an instinct to make the right deal. To understand the customer’s perspective, having an understanding of commercial theory and practice is crucial.’  

Now that he is a CEO, it is time to hit the ground running and his work is cut out.

First of all he needs to continue the sales growth trajectory left behind by Mark Ocitti, his predecessor but also return UBL to 2015 levels when the company posted UGX40.8 billion in profit and even better.

In doing all this, he needs to keep an eye on arresting Nile Breweries’ marketing share- continuing the trend left by Mark Ocitti- who reduced the gap between UBL and Nile Breweries from UGX189.9bn in 2016 to UGX126.4bn in 2017.

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TREATING SMALL BUSINESSES: Dr. Innocent Nahabwe’s practical guide on how to handle partnerships, money, people and competition for entrepreneurs

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Dr. Innocent Nahabwe is best described as a jack of many trades, and perhaps, master of many of them. He is an all-round entrepreneur, marketing pundit, writer, veterinary doctor and father.

He recently outed a book, Treating Small Businesses- a smooth cocktail of how to handle partnerships, money, people, competition and marketing and how to remain sane in a crazy business environment.

CEO East Africa Magazine’s Muhereza Kyamutetera, sat him down both for insights from his book as well as from him experience running small businesses.  


Describe Innocent Nahabwe for us.

I am many things. I am a human, 38 would make me middle age, male. I am a veterinary Doctor by training who has ventured into Marketing (I hold an MSc Marketing from Makerere University). I am businessman, media practitioner who has made attempts at writing.

I am a father and son. In short, I am a hustler struggling to stay afloat.

What inspired you to write your book, Treating Small Businesses?

I realised that whereas everyone aspires to have big business, most of us will realistically only do small business. Access to capital; the issues with the stock exchange that keep out small business from the Stock exchange hence denying them capital, lack of accessible investment banks or firms continues to limit how far most entrepreneurs will go.

Uganda has been listed among the most entrepreneurial countries but most entrepreneurs will remain small businesses and the bulk of these entrepreneurs are into the service sector – boutiques, saloons, bars, restaurants, cottage firms etc. Most of these start and fail before their first anniversary causing lots of frustration to budding entrepreneurs and those after them.

I have been lucky to run and sustain several small businesses and it was my hope and desire to share the little information I have with fellow small business owners.

This inspired the book.

Why should anyone want to read or buy the book?

The book serves two purposes. One, it shares my experiences told in a humorous manner that most people will relate to. I am within the age bracket of most of the targeted readers. I go through their challenges. I lose some, win some and share honestly my experiences. It’s best to buy the book and learn from my mistakes than learn from your own. Books I have read have helped shape my approach towards business and I share honestly and in detail.

TREATING SMALL BUSINESSES is Dr. Innocent Nahabwe’s practical story on how to handle partnerships, money, people and competition in a crazy business environment

Also, I share my lessons and insights on what makes or breaks business. For anyone trying to do business, this is important for them.

What would you say are the top 5 pieces of advice from the book?

I don’t want to pre-empt the book but I share about how to handle staff, how to handle money, how to handle competition, how to market and how to remain sane in this crazy business environment.

Based on your experience- what would you say are the top 5 mistakes small businesses make?

  1. Most people want instant success: Business grows slowly. Even Apple started in a garage many years ago. Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia and others have taken 30 or so years in the game. We can’t want to live like them in 2 years. We will kill the business.
  2. Most people mix business money and their own money: The business is an extension of their pockets. This makes accounting hard and most of us kill our businesses ourselves by being bad parasites. We become cannibals.
  3. Lack of book keeping: Most people have shops and don’t know the value of the stock they have. Money comes in and goes based on intuition. Stocking is done based on requests. In the book, I suggest simple mathematics (Primary 4 mathematics is enough) with a simple equation to use to track performance, and have proper records. It is a must for every business to have proper records and track performance.
  4. Not giving business enough time: Most people have business as their side hustle. We keep our jobs and hope business will grow on its own. Just like a baby, I explain in the book how to look at your business and create more time within the regular day and get the best out of the business. You can’t invest in a business and let it be a by the way.
  5. Mixing emotions and business: Many of us get emotional. We look at business as our baby. We do what we love. We do business for us and not the customer. Even when it fails, we stick with it and it sucks us dry. We need to understand that business is business. It is about money- treat it as business; principally for money.
TREATING SMALL BUSINESSES will be launched on 12th July 2019, at Kingdom Kampala Mall, at 6pm.

Don’t mix family, relatives, friends in the business. Debts must be paid. It must make money. If it fails to work, regardless of how much you love it, let it go. If you get a good offer that makes business sense, sell. Don’t be attached.

More, I share in the book.

Given your experience, would you say government has been helpful to small businesses?

I think so.

There are still many challenges but there have been improvements in power, infrastructure, and government systems such as Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). You can now handle your own taxes easily. However, a lot more can be done. We need more skills. We need centralised marketing. I think cooperatives that allow small holder firms to trade together like Coffee Marketing Board , Lint Marketing Board etc. can help farmers manage quality, work on prices, take advantage of economies of scale, bargain for supplies, access extension services and expertise, buy similar equipment for ease of repair, have strategic partnerships which would make it easier.

The book is selling on Jumia  at a special price of UGX35,000

If you were appointed the minister of finance today or if you became president what are some of the things you would do to help small businesses?

I fear politics.

I would probably give one look at providing advisory roles. I would organise all industries into cooperatives. We would zone businesses so that particular areas produce particular products. That helps in corroboration and government support. If Coffee was from Masaka and Mbale, focus would be easier. Then milk from Mbarara, millet from Soroti and may be rice from the Eastern region. This would help support farmers and small industries with market, storage, extension services etc. As of now, everything is everywhere.

Considering that most people are into agriculture, most support would go to value addition and agricultural processing followed by aggressive marketing. We have a competitive advantage as well as comparative advantage here. All year good weather, multiple seasons, fertile soils, central location within the region, a vast hinterland. All these would help make us a food basket mostly for organic food.

What next, after this book? Are we going to see another book soon?

Yes, I am working on another book. We are also going to do a small business clinic, a multimedia platform for helping small businesses. We will have small business master classes and work towards spreading this gospel of growing small business in as many places as possible.

About the Author

Dr. Innocent Nahabwe is a serial entrepreneur and a man of many firsts as well. He is CEO and founder to Kagwirawo, Uganda’s first online sports betting company; Bluecube, a leading mobile solutions company before SMS business became commonplace and Howwe.biz, the No.1 music streaming and showbiz platform, as well as Club Amnesia a popular city nightspot.  
He is also CEO of 100.2 Galaxy FM – a Pioneer urban Youth Luganda station that he founded in 2013, but had by its 5th anniversary risen to an award winning station and amongst the top 5 radio stations in its category.  
He also holds an MBA (Marketing) from Makerere University.  

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