Libstar navigates tough market conditions, demonstrating agility

The Group continued to execute on its three key priorities for the year ended 31 December 2020:

1. Preserving the Group’s financial stability

  • The Group incurred extraordinary COVID-19 (COVID) expenses of R64.7 million to maintain a safe working environment for its employees.
  • Private COVID-19 testing was provided, with over 700 recoveries recorded across the Group.

2. Preserving the Group’s financial stability

  • Libstar’s categories and sales channels were each uniquely impacted by the effects of COVID-19 and the related trading restrictions and challenges. Despite these challenges, the Group’s cash generation profile remained stable and its cash conversion ratio increased from 91% to 94%.

3. Delivering superior service levels to customers

  • The Group managed to ensure product availability to customers amid ongoing supply chain disruptions.
  • Libstar continued to invest in critical market insights for relevant new product development (NPD) and launched 624 new and renovated products during the year.

Commenting on the results, Libstar CEO Andries van Rensburg, said: 

“Despite the challenging year, our diversity in category, product, brand portfolio and sales mix enabled us to demonstrate resilience as a Group. We managed disruptions to our supply chain, particularly in relation to our import- and export-facing divisions. We were forced to adapt to a significant and rapid shift in consumer behaviour, with shoppers reducing store visits, but increasing their respective shopping basket sizes. Our decentralised management model enabled each business unit to act with agility. This responsiveness, together with our deeply entrenched entrepreneurial culture, assisted us greatly in weathering the challenges during the year.” 

Looking forward, Van Rensburg added: 

“The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unquantifiable. The weak macro-economic climate is expected to persist and will continue to impact consumer’s disposable income. We anticipate further cost inflation in 2021 with reduced volume growth as the impact of COVID-19 continues to be evident in our sales channels. However, these factors are expected to be mitigated by our diverse product mix and manufacturing capabilities, as well as growing returns from completion of earlier capital projects.

“We will furthermore continue to benefit from our ability to capitalise on evolving consumer trends, including in-home cooking and baking; healthier food alternatives such as reduced sugar options, meat alternatives and gluten-free; and environmentally-friendly products. This, as well as Libstar’s ability to increase its market share in the fast-growing private label and dealer-own brand sector through targeted new product development and focused category management will buffer the headwinds.”

Financial summary
  • Group revenue for the year was 4.0% higher.
    • Revenue growth from food categories, which constitute 92.0% of Group revenue, was 3.6%, whilst revenue within the Household & Personal Care (HPC) category, which represents 8.0% of Group revenue, increased by 7.9%.
    • All categories benefited from increased demand in the Group’s Retail and Wholesale sales channel. However, due to the Food service industry shutdown in Q2 and subsequent lower occupancies of hospitality venues and restaurants, food-related volumes declined by 5.1%.
    • HPC volumes declined by 1.9%, mainly due to continued product rationalisation as the category increased its sales weighting to value-added products.
  • The Group’s gross profit margin decreased by 0.4 percentage points from 24.0% the previous year to 23.6%, mainly as a result of lower Food service channel revenue and, consequently, plant throughput, which impacted plant utilisation within the Perishables category.
  • Normalised operating profit decreased by 13.1% at a margin of 7.5% (2019: 9.0%), impacted by COVID-19-related extraordinary expenses of R64.7 million and increased depreciation from the completion of capital projects in 2019 and 2020.
  • Group Normalised EBITDA decreased by 5.0% at a margin of 10.8% (2019: 11.9%).
    • Normalised EBITDA before corporate costs from the Group’s food categories decreased 8.1% over the comparative period, contributing 94% of Group EBITDA, whilst the HPC category’s Normalised EBITDA before corporate costs increased by 37.5%.
  • Fully diluted EPS and Normalised EPS from continuing operations decreased by 79.3% and 55.3% respectively, mainly due to the impact of the R198 million impairment of goodwill attributable to Denny (refer to full announcement at www.libstar.co.za).
  • Fully diluted HEPS and Normalised HEPS from continuing operations, which exclude the impact of impairments, declined by 21.7% and 13.8% respectively.
  • Cash generated from operating activities increased from R579.8 million to R637.2 million.
    • This was mainly due to improved cash flow from operations, reduced net interest and tax expenses. These impacts were somewhat offset by an increased investment in net working capital.
  • Net working capital as a percentage of revenue, at 15.1%, was above the Group’s target range of 13.0% to 15.0%.
    • This was due to higher than usual inventory holdings of raw materials and finished goods across multiple categories to ensure product availability during COVID-19.
Operational Overview

Please refer to the Group’s detailed announcement on www.libstar.co.za for additional detail

Perishables (46% of Group revenue and 34% of group normalised EBITDA)

The Perishables category is the Group’s largest contributor to revenue and, in the current period, was most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to its high exposure to the Food service channel.

  • Revenue increased by 0.2% and volumes declined by 4.7%.
  • Gross profit margin decreased to 20.1% (2019: 22.0%).
  • Normalised EBITDA decreased by 25.4% at a margin of 8.7% (2019 margin: 11.7%).
  • R23.9 million was spent in this category on direct COVID-19-related expenses.

Groceries (32% of Group revenue and 44% of group normalised EBITDA)

  • Revenue increased by 5.3% and volumes declined by 7.3%.
  • Gross profit margin increased to 27.7% (2019: 26.7%).
  • Normalised EBITDA increased by 8.1% at a margin of 15.8% (2019: 15.4%).
  • R16.2 million was spent in this category on direct COVID-19-related expenses.

Snacks & Confectionary (6% of Group revenue and 7% of group normalised EBITDA)

  • Revenue from this category increased by 6.7%.
    • This was mainly due to the full-year inclusion of revenue from the contract manufacturing of Pringles snacks.
  • Gross profit margins improved strongly to 30.6% from 28.4%.
  • Normalised EBITDA decreased 0.8% at a lower margin of 15.6% (2019:16.8%).
  • R9.6 million was spent in this category on direct COVID-19-related expenses.

Baking & Baking Aids (8% of Group revenue and 9% of group normalised EBITDA)

  • Revenue increased 16.5% and volumes improved by 7.4%.
  • Gross profit margin declined to 26.9% (2019: 29.8%).
  • Normalised EBITDA increased by 0.2% at a margin of 12.8% (2019: 14.8%).
  • R8.9 million was spent in this category on direct COVID-19-related expenses.

Household & Personal Care (8% of Group revenue and 6% of group normalised EBITDA)

  • Revenue increased by 7.9% and volumes decreased by 1.9%.
  • Gross profit margin improved to 19.1% (2019: 17.5%).
  • Normalised EBITDA increased by 37.5% at an improved margin of 9.0% (2019: 7.0%).
  • R5.2 million was spent in this category on direct COVID-19-related expenses.

You may be interested in

Five immune-boosting foods to keep you healthy in the winter months

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the focus on immune-boosting foods, resulting in consumers making healthier lifestyle and food choices....

Read More

13 May 2021

Innovation as a business imperative during a global pandemic

Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant and notable trend in at-home consumption and shoppers are...

Read More

21 April 2021

5 food trends for 2021

Our eating habits change constantly. Here’s how one of South Africa’s leading groups in consumer packaged goods is responding...

Read More

21 January 2021

Plant-based innovation at Libstar

Denny Mushrooms, Rialto Foods and Cape Herb & Spice, all members of the Libstar family, are meeting South Africans’...

Read More

19 November 2020

Seeing the Future First

Strategy, innovation and connecting the dots: Libstar CEO Andries van Rensburg reflects on 30 years in the food business....

Read More

28 October 2019