Sasini Plc sent home 1,364 in the year ended September 2020, attributed to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.
The agricultural firm with a focus on tea and coffee ended the year with 2,520 employees, becoming one of the biggest job cuts in Kenya for a listed firm.
This was despite the company recording improved sales, soaring by 48.3 percent to Ksh4.1 billion compared to Ksh2.7 billion recorded in the same period in 2019.
In the period under review, the company recorded a Ksh12.6 million profit, as compared to a net loss of Ksh337.7 million in 2019.
The workforce in the tea estates went down by 930 to close at 1,683, while the coffee division saw 176 workers sent home to close at 757. Other sectors saw the headcount go down by 258 to just 80.
The workforce could go down further, as the company focuses on automation which will see most jobs taken over by machines.
“In our tea business, we will entrench our automation project to help deliver profits derived from reduced costs of production. In the months and years ahead, and once we finish with automation in the field, it is our intention to initiate and enhance automation in the factories as well,” the firm’s chairman James McFie said.
“All these will be benchmarked on the crucial need for the business to find cleaner, simpler and more affordable ways of conducting its business.”
Sasini shut down its macadamia factory and focused on processing the nuts that had already been harvested by the time the pandemic broke.
“We expect this business to pick up very slowly in the future as the anticipated effects of the pandemic continue to affect the general nuts business negatively and especially in the hospitality and travel industries,” adds Dr McFie.