Legacy Africa beds down interest in Penflex

LEGACY Africa Capital Partners has consolidated its interest in Penflex, which it recently purchased a controlling interest in, and made investments in solar and off-grid power supply and additional capital equipment.

Cape-based Penflex is one of only two dedicated pen manufacturers in South Africa and the only local producer, with the other being BIC SA, which is part of the global BIC group.

Besides pens, of which it makes a huge range of options, Penflex also manufactures domestic products such as washing baskets, bins and buckets, water dispensing containers and solutions, kitchen goods such as cups and plates and cooler boxes. Its main activity, and which it is best known for, is the production of ballpoint, highlighter and marker pens and stationery items such as rulers.

The company was started by Asher Saban in 1985 and steadily expanded production and services, to the point where it is now regarded as one of the biggest injection moulding businesses in the Western Cape with a substantial number of machines. It uses mainly small machines in the 25-ton clamp force range for the moulding of pens and caps, but also has bigger systems for its bins and basins, with machines up to 850t. It also blow moulds the lids for its cooler boxes, where it offers in mould labelling (IML) too.

The company actually has earlier origins, stemming from the establishment of Alplas Shutters, a manufacturer of vertical blinds and all the requisite components, started by Saban in 1970. Following the success of that venture, Saban started Penflex, which initially produced only pens, in 1985. The businesses grew in tandem over the ensuing decades. Alplas has, however, since exited production with the components it requires now being produced by Penflex.

Sean Stuttaford, a business management specialist, joined Penflex in 2015, tasked with implementing a Syspro management system. Success here saw Penflex go up a gear, and Stuttaford was appointed CEO two years later; in 2021 he put together the investment proposal with Legacy Africa Capital Partners which led to Joburg-based Legacy buying a 60% stake in Penflex. The company’s management bought the remaining shares in the business.

After selling his interests in Penflex, Saban relocated to the Alplas premises in Montague Gardens. Penflex continues to operate from nearby Killarney Gardens.

The company has hence transitioned from a family business to being an active part of Legacy Africa’s non-listed businesses portfolio. The division is run Kgosi Monametsi, head of Unlisted Investments at Legacy. The group has interests in several other companies around the country, including Continuous Power Africa, Everite, Kelpack and Swartland (building materials supplier).

Legacy Africa offers a “specialist management service for investors interested in making the most of all that Africa has to offer. Legacy Africa specialises in listed investment opportunities, while our private equity arm, Legacy Africa Capital Partners, invests in high-growth African companies that we believe are shaping Africa’s future”.