The Moxon Group exchanged their shares in Meikles Limited for shares in Gondor Capital Limited (“Gondor”), a foreign registered company. Gondor’s shareholding in Meikles post this share consolidation is approximately 49% and will be diluted to about 44% post the issue of shares to the Staff Share Trust. The transaction was approved by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The consolidation of the shares was booked over on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange on 19 January 2012 at a price of 17 cents per share. Gondor will use its offshore balance sheet to raise funds for investment into Meikles and Zimbabwe.
Pick N Pay investment
Following the completion of all the regulatory approvals in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Pick n Pay (“PnP”) has now increased its shareholding in TM Supermarkets from 25% to 49%. The US$13 million for the additional shareholding has now been received and shares were issued effective 1 February 2012. The funds will be utilised in the refurbishment of the supermarkets.
Staff Share Trust
The Staff Share Trust scheme was launched on 18 November 2011 by the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Indigenisation and Economic Development. The board of Trustees for this scheme are still in the process of raising funding to purchase the shares. When fully funded the Trust can purchase up to 10% of the Meikles Limited shares at the 30 day weighted average price prior to purchase.
Group financial performance
Having reported a loss before tax of $7 million for the half year ended 30 September 2011, the Group’s financial performance has not changed materially. The trading in the last quarter of the year 2011 was affected by the lack of liquidity in the market on top of the already low disposable incomes.The year on year growth in turnover levels slowed down markedly in the last quarter of the year. Turnover growth was at 36% year on year as at 30 September 2011 but retreated to 29% for the nine months ended 31 December 2011.The Group borrowings at approximately $62 million have remained high and options are being explored to reduce the debt to manageable levels.
TM Supermarkets (“TM”)
The financial performance of this company has continued to improve from the half year. TM has been trading profitably due to good margins and turnover comparable to those in previous periods. The turnover growth was 30% year on year as at 31 December 2011. The trading in 2012 has been steady and margins are being maintained. The Kamfinsa branch is nearing completion and should open in May 2012. New sites are being evaluated to expand the branch reach from the current 50. The refurbishment programme has started following the receipt of the investment from PnP and the outlook is positive.
TM Stores (“Stores”)
Improvement has been registered in the financial performance of Stores in the last quarter to 31 December 2011 despite the obvious liquidity challenges and low disposable incomes. Turnover growth was 59% year on year. The Stores trading model was changed to increase volumes at the expense of margins. Turnover continues to improve but is still below targeted levels. The limited availability of credit funding due to market liquidity problems is affecting the sales growth. Whilst the earnings before interest charges, depreciation and tax have improved, the company will report a loss for the year ending 31 March 2012 mainly due to the interest burden.
Meikles Hospitality (“Hotels”)
The hotels had an encouraging last quarter of the year 2011. The occupancy levels improved markedly particularly for the Victoria Falls Hotel where the occupancy level was 57% for the period ended 31 December 2011 (31 December 2010: 46%). For the Meikles Hotel, the occupancy level was 49% (31 December 2010: 41%) whilst for the Cape Grace Hotel the occupancy level was 66% (31 December 2010: 62%). The RevPars increased by 43% and 10% for the Victoria Falls Hotel and Meikles Hotel respectively, whilst a decrease of 5% was registered at the Cape Grace Hotel. The refurbishment at the Meikles Hotel is scheduled to start in the first week of March 2012 for a period of seven months. The Hotels are trading profitably and will report a profit for the year ending 31 March 2012
Tanganda Tea Company (“Tanganda”)
As reported at the half year, the tea plantation suffered frost bite and a heat wave. In addition, the rains were delayed with meaningful rain only being received in December 2011 at approximately 20% below December 2010 levels. These climatic incidences have negatively affected the bulk tea production. The heat wave in October 2011 also affected the macadamias as approximately 50% of the fruit dropped to the ground due to wilting. The cost of production has continued to increase whilst tea prices remained relatively flat. The company will incur a loss for the financial year ending 31 March 2012. However, the plantation development is continuing. Post the half year 32ha, 40ha and 34ha of coffee, macadamia and avocados were planted. More land preparation is taking place whilst seedlings for the next planting cycle for coffee, avocados and macadamia have been acquired and are in nursery.
The flagship operation within the Group being TM has received a timely boost with the capital injection of $13 million. This will go a long way in restoring TM’s status as the retailer of choice in Zimbabwe. The refurbishment will lead to an improvement in margins and turnover. The plantation development at Tanganda will yield the desired results in the medium to long term. The outlook for the Hotels is positive especially as Zimbabwe will be hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in 2013. The Stores challenge remains that of accessing funding for the credit sales as the merchandising in the branches is currently being revamped. The decisive move by the major shareholders to mobilise upwards of $200 million for investment in Meikles and Zimbabwe augurs well for the future growth of the company and its subsidiaries.