East Africa’s leading industrial and medical gas company, BOC Kenya Ltd is to make further investment in its main air separation unit (ASU) as part of ongoing efficiency initiatives.

After recently announcing a drop in pre-tax profit from KShs 183m in the first six months of 2008, to KShs 146m for the same period of 2009, Managing Director of BOC Kenya, Mr John Kariuki, said the company would invest KShs 80m in its main air separation plant, to enhance its capacity and efficiency.

Addressing the media during an investor briefing at a Nairobi hotel, Kariuki attributed BOC Kenya’s performance to a harsh trading environment that lowered demand for the company products.

He said the escalation in costs of inputs - especially power and raw materials, the dawn of the global economic crisis, high food prices and the postponement or slow-down of key capital projects during the period, affected the company’s growth.

“As members of the Board of Directors, we envisage a continuing challenging business environment,” he told the gathering of the investing public.

The initiatives, he added, target processes within the company’s production, distribution and supply chains.

“We are keen as a company, to implement cost reduction measures to stem the erosion on the overall turnover,” he said.

He noted that the cost and quality of power was a great concern to BOC Kenya and other key players in the manufacturing sector.

He said the ongoing power-rationing programme would slow-down recovery efforts in many firms and worse still, reverse the minimal recovery gains that have been realised in recent times.