Achieving tenfold growth in six
years and still growing
Since 1997 the Borg Group of Companies has been redefining
the various industries it operates in. Here DAVID LINDSAY meets Managing
Director Edward Borg, who has seen the Groups turnover increase
tenfold in just six years. Here he speaks about the Groups successes
past, present and future.
The Borg Group of Companies, best known for the Borg Cold
Stores mother company, has come a long way over the last six years,
increasing turnover tenfold while successfully tapping import and export
markets. The future, Managing Director Edward Borg explains, is even
The company was first established back in 1918 as Malta Cold Stores
and after subsequent reshuffles within the family-run business, Edward
now owns a number of business concerns under the umbrella of the Borg
The mother company, Borg Cold Stores, operates cold storage for third
parties and also produces flake, rock and cubed ice under the Iceman
brand name. It also serves as the main shareholder of the subsidiaries,
one of which is industry-leading Buxom Poultry Ltd., which was bought
some 11 months ago and which also represents, in many ways, the future
of the Group.
Representing 60 to 70 per cent of Maltas chicken consumption,
Buxom was a good investment with even better future prospects. Edward
elaborates, "At the moment were gearing up to start trying
to tap nearby export markets such as that of North Africa and maybe
"But the Buxom project is much larger than that. Its sitting
on 110 tumoli of land and, in addition to ongoing activities, it will
also include some 50 tumoli of vineyards and 20 tumoli of olive trees.
We are also looking into partnering with experts in rabbit breeding
to start producing rabbits professionally for the local and export market
such as the French, Dutch and Italian markets where there is a high
While plans for operations at Buxom are promising, Edward insists on
taking things one step at a time, applying the primary focus on poultry.
In this respect the last 11 months have seen production increase from
1,000 to some 8,000 to 10,000 birds a day.
Supplementing this growth is the creation of a dedicated division for
research and development, which is today being expanded through a recruitment
drive with the idea of tapping possibilities in markets other than the
The import and distribution side of the business deals in over 300 items
of frozen goods and, Edward explains, is a company that faces a lot
of tough competition like so many others in this day and age. As such
quality, price and service need to be continually ensured and improved
upon. One service that sets it apart from others in the industry is
the day-to-day delivery service, created for restaurants that require
same day delivery, while normal deliveries are carried out through the
comparatively quick next day service.
The company has also injected a heavy investment in information systems,
allowing for detailed sales and distribution information to be placed
at managers fingertips.
A newer Group investment is the Flock Hatchers subsidiary, through which
eggs are imported from European countries such as Holland, Belgium and
Germany. The eggs are then incubated and hatched in Malta and are brought
to different farms for rearing and eventual processing at Buxom.
Edward sees export opportunities in this field as well, citing the possibility
of exporting day-old chicks to the Maghreb and Middle Eastern markets,
where the method is already in practice.
The Norafri company, meanwhile, stands apart from the Group in that
it is Edwards baby. The company deals mostly in processing
equipment, with North Africa as its main target market. Here Edward
represents Dutch processing equipment manufacturers and the processing
plant in Malta, thanks to Maltas proximity to the North African
market, serves as a show plant for the quickly developing market.
Since this aspect of Norafri is not a continuous business as it deals
with rather large investments, the company also deals in speciality
crates for chickens, plastic crates for day-old chicks and a growing
number of farm-related items.
"At the moment a lot of farmers are investing in upgrading their
facilities," Edward explains, "The government has authorised
subsidies through the SMPPMA programme, which is a way of helping the
local agricultural sector to improve its efficiency levels, product
levels, sites, hygiene and also to become more professional so the local
sector will be able to compete in the European scenario."
Indeed, a common concern is that the agro-food industry will not be
able to compete within the enlarged Europe, but you seem to be moving
with the times I point out.
"Im trying, lets put it this way," Edward explains,
"and I believe that with the right management, the right volume
levels and the right attitudes there is no reason why we cant
"Im not saying we will be able to compete in all aspects
but we have to grab the bull by the horns and try the best we can. With
the right attitudes, co-operation of the government and a good measure
of determination, I think that yes, we will be able to compete."
He also points out that consumer trends in Malta are changing, with
demand for the fresh product supplanting the frozen. In this respect
the company is looking at venturing into organic and free-range products,
going back a genuine product fed on wheat, grains and vegetables.
"But obviously we are first consolidating the Group and the local
market from the Groups perspective. When I bought the companies
in 1997 the turnover was around Lm700,000, by the close of this year
the turnover would have gone up to Lm7 million.
"This has taken a lot of work and organisation. Mistakes happen,
but we learn from our mistakes and learn how to get them right the next
But seeing a tenfold business growth in just six years has not led to
complacency and the Group is working on a number of other projects and,
without divulging commercial details, Edward hints that by the end of
the year there could very well be something new on the market for the
This new future for the Group has also necessitated the creation of
a new corporate structure, for which recruitment experts have been brought
in to select the right people to bring the company forward.
"We have to survive one way or another and we are trying to recruit
decision takers, which would give me time to do what I am good at. Although
we are quite organised as regards structure, with managerial positions
overseeing of the day-to-day running of the subsidiaries, what we need
is to have another corporate level on top of that which reports to the
board. We are working on this, and other initiatives, today to start
facing the challenges of tomorrow. This, of course, takes a lot of work,
energy and dedication."
The Group in 1997 was made up of some 25 employees, while today it employs
over 80 full-timers and about 30 part-time employees. Edward comments,
"You have to have a dedicated team, treat your people right, and
give the right incentives, which Ive basically been trying to
"The profit sharing scheme we are drawing up for the managerial
team is one of these incentives. Our managers already have a good salary
but my view is that if the company is making money, it is only right
that the managers, although they dont actually own the company,
should share in its success.
"But, again, just like any other group of companies there are ups
and downs and you have to be strong when the seas are rough. I believe
psychologically that our approach has been the correct one, the intentions
have been correct and I can proudly say I have a very competent and
efficient staff with the right mentality if I didnt have
that, I wouldnt have anything today because it simply cannot be