ART Holdings Limited releases its 2022 Annual Report
It is a great pleasure to present the financial and strategic performance review of Art Holdings Limited (ART) for the year ended 30 September 2022.
The capitalisation and restructuring of the Paper business progressed well during the year despite economic challenges. Installations were completed at the end of September and full commercial production is expected to start after optimisation.
The operating environment remained complex and challenging, characterised by high inflation, unstable exchange rates, rising commodity prices due to disruptions and rising tensions in the global economy. The anticipated economic recovery on the back of easing covid restrictions was dampened by the rapid depreciation of the local currency and the measures instituted by Government to control inflation, increase demand for the local currency and curb speculative borrowing. The hiking of interest rates affected market demand and impacted growth initiatives as businesses focused on value preservation.
The Zambian economy continued to recover following the fall in manufacturing output and slowing copper demand during the COVID period. The easing inflation and stability of the Kwacha enabled economic activity to improve during the period.
The Group registered moderate growth during the period with its major business segment, batteries remaining resilient in both the local and export markets. The fragility of the Paper division under the current difficult economic conditions was evident during the period as the unit struggled to maintain volumes and profitability.
Future proofing of the Group by diversifying and consolidating the Paper units has been challenging and significant support from the Group’s funders was required to enable the completion of the Paper Mill project in Kadoma. The increase in foreign currency sales in all the business units helped to sustain raw materials imports. The business also benefited from the growing informal sector which has better payment terms.
In terms of IFRS and ZSE regulations, the Group is required to report and provide commentary on the Group’s Annual Inflation adjusted financial statements and users are once again advised to exercise caution in the use of these Group Annual Inflation adjusted financial statements.
The Group recorded revenues of ZWL 19,6 billion during the year, an increase of 3% in inflation adjusted terms from prior year and 185% in historical terms as prices were adjusted in line with inflation and volumes overall increased by 10%. Export volumes increased by 12% compared to prior year driven by strong demand in Zambia.
The Group’s regional drive continues to be anchored by the strong performance of batteries in Zambia and Malawi. Foreign currency shortages persisted in Malawi whilst growth in Mozambique remains slow as competition from imported batteries increased. Gross margins recovered during the period on the back of timeous price adjustments and cost containment. Demand for batteries, paper and stationery recovered although significant downtime in the tissue business due to machine breakdowns and power cuts affected production output consequently impacting sales particularly on the export market.
The Group recorded significant exchange losses amounting to ZWL 3.6 billion as the local currency depreciated by 607% during the period. Fair value adjustments on investment property and biological assets amounted to ZWL 4.9 billion. The Group managed to deliver a profit after tax of ZWL 1,46 billion compared to the loss of ZWL 2.5 billion in the prior year. The performance was overshadowed by the increase in finance costs especially towards the end of the year following the hiking of interest rates. The Group’s statement of financial position was impacted by the significant movement in the exchange rate and exposure from project related obligations. The completion of the Paper Mill installation and restructuring of the Group’s borrowings at year end will ease the working capital strain.
The debt to equity ratio increased from 10% to 12% at year end.
The Batteries performance during the period was affected by supply chain disruptions and eratic availability of power in the first half of the year. Demand on the export market was strong and volumes grew by 12%. Liquidity constraints in the local market and foreign currency shortages in Malawi necessitated changes in trading terms in order to manage credit risk with a resultant impact on volumes. Projects to broaden the product range were temporarily deferred following the hiking of interest rates and decline in aggregate demand.
The capitalisation and restructuring of the Paper business progressed well during the year despite economic challenges. Installations were completed at the end of September and full commercial production is expected to start after optimisation in December 2022. Volumes overall for paper decreased by 15%. Paper export volumes increased by 5%. Power supply and the unavailability of sufficient local waste paper remain as the major challenges for the business. Partnerships concluded during the year with waste paper suppliers in Botswana and South Africa helped to sustain production.
Eversharp volumes increased by 39% compared to prior year as volumes continued to recover from last year following the easing of covid restrictions. Export volumes increased by 177%. Opportunities in the market could not be maximised due to the foreign currency auction allocation backlog. Foreign currency sales in the informal sector enabled the division to improve raw material and spare parts availability in the second half of the year. Stationery trading was resumed and contributed 10% of total sales.
Timber volumes were held at the same level as the prior year. Demand remained firm, however the environment necessitated changes in trading terms in order to preserve value and reduce credit risk.
The Group’s commitment and contribution to sustainability continues to be embedded in its strategy which is aligned and reported in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) protocols. During the year the Group’s practices were strengthened through training and the adoption of tailored risk frameworks that ensure that supportive controls are put in place.
The Company is not in a position to declare a dividend.
Dr Oliver Mtasa retired from the Board during the year. The Board and management take this opportunity to express their appreciation to him for his leadership and commitment to the Group over the years.
On the 25th of September 2022 Mr Y C Baik who had served the Board since 2017 sadly passed on. We pay tribute to his invaluable contribution and unwavering support during his tenure. It is through his dedication, leadership and perseverance that the Group has successfully turned around and grown its footprint in the region.
The Board appointed Mr. Steven Mupfurutsa as an Independent Non Executive Director with effect from 1 August 2022. Mr Mupfurutsa holds a Bachelor of Accountancy (Honours) Degree from University of Zimbabwe. He completed his training at Deloitte & Touché and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe. The Board would like to congratulate Mr. Mupfurutsa on his appointment and wish him every success in his new role.
The operating environment is expected to remain challenging with the continued impact of the unfolding global recession. Government measures to contain inflation and stabilise the exchange rate will hopefully be reviewed in a manner that takes cognisance of the need to support the manufacturing sector. The elimination of the expensive local currency debt after year end has brought significant relief as the Group embarks on a journey of stabilisation and recovery with focus on cash generation, sustaining working capital improvement and optimally managing gearing levels. The Group is encouraged by the fruitful engagement that it has had with Government and resulting mitigatory measures put in place to support completion of its expansionary capital investment programme.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our customers, suppliers, bankers and other key stakeholders, my fellow directors, management and the entire team at ART for the continued contribution and support during the period under review.
T U WUSHE
07 December 2022
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ART Holdings Limited (ARTD.zw)Share price: 4,100.00 ZWL cents (0.00 | 0.00% – 02/06/23)
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