We have extracted the financial summary from the full year report of Amalgamated Regional Trading Holdings Limited listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange under the share code ARTD.zw. Art is a manufacturer and distributor of stationary, battery and paper products.

The following is an excerpt from the full year report:

FINANCIAL

Revenue increased by 40% to $46.9m, as a result of increased demand, improved production output in the battery business and price movements against the backdrop of expansionary fiscal and monetary policies. Gross margins decreased by 3 percentage points to 39% as a result of raw material cost increases in the second half of the year across the business units. The focus on exports also diluted margins as penetration pricing strategies were implemented in the regional market. An operating profit of $7.3m was achieved compared to $5m in 2017 as increases in operating expenditure lagged raw material cost and selling price increases. Operating expenses increased by 22% from the prior year.

The Group strengthened its balance sheet from improved profitability and managed to significantly improve its net asset position to $1.4m from a net liability of $4.8m in the prior year. Capital expenditure for the year amounted to $2,2m. Cash generated from operations increased by 55% to $5.2m and was applied towards creditors and loan repayments.

OPERATIONS

The Battery business segment continued to drive the Group’s performance recording revenues of $32m, a 42% increase from prior year. Volumes increased by 29% on the back of improved product availability following additional investment in factory bottleneck areas. The Exide Express network was expanded and supported by increased promotional activities that included the rebranding of the Mutare and Motor City Harare branches. The increased volumes in batteries and paper as well as the widening of the product range to include books and low maintenance batteries necessitated additional contract labour.

The Chloride Zambia sales volumes increased by 34% and revenues increased by 17% to $6.3m from prior year. The business continued on the recovery path following the resolution of the taxation issues reported in the prior year.

The Paper division achieved an operating profit of $0.73m compared to $0.12m in the prior period as a result of improved efficiencies and volumes at the Kadoma Mill. Revenue was driven by a 7% volume increase to $6,5m.

Eversharp maintained its strong performance in spite of the proliferation of imitation pens in the region. An operating profit of $0.81m was achieved compared to $0.92m in the prior year.

Softex recorded an operating profit of $0.61m on the back of strong tissue demand compared to $0.34m in 2017. Revenues at $9,8m increased by 37%, however, hygiene and femcare products were affected by intermittent raw material supplies

Strong timber demand drove the revenues of the Mutare business with turnover increasing by 55% to $2m. The business continued with sustainability measures initiated in the prior period that focus on resource preservation and value addition.

OUTLOOK

Post the reporting period, the economic environment deteriorated further and efforts to redress the situation by Government through fiscal and monetary policy pronouncements are still to have a positive impact as market confidence has been undermined by contradictions with regards to the currency framework.

The Group has come through a transformative period during which it managed to retool its key manufacturing businesses improving both capacity and efficiencies. The economic challenges in the country are likely to persist with the Group facing potential interest penalties on its foreign trade facilities due to payment delays. However, export development strategies initiated during the year are expected to increase export revenues to enable the Group to sustain its operations.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Board, management, the entire team at Art and all other Stakeholders for the support and contribution to the Group during the year

ART Corporation is a Company Member of AfricanFinancials.com.