Ariston poised for US$20m turnover

Paul Nyakazeya

ARISTON Holdings is forecasting a turnover of US$20 million in the year to September 30 2011 from US$9,6 million achieved during the same period last year, CEO Rachel Kupara said.

Speaking at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the capital last week, Kupara gave an optimistic business outlook and an upbeat quarterly trade update.

She said Favco — the group’s wholesale fruit and vegetable distribution company — will contribute close to 50% to the projected turnover despite the company’s borrowings increasing by the end of January.

“We are anticipating a turnover of about US$20 million for the financial year ending September 30. Turnover for the four months to January amounted to US$4,3 million compared to US$2,7 million during the same period last year,” she said last Friday.

Ariston recorded an operating loss of US$1,769 million last year with turnover amounting to US$9,682 million, Favco accounted for US$4,8 million of the turnover.

Kupara said borrowings amounted to US$3,3 million as at January 31 2011, US$1,2 million dollars more than the US $2,1 million recorded by the financial year ending September 30 last year.“The increase is because of the US$200 000 capex spend, US$700 000 used on planting costs and working capital of US$500 000. Plans are underway to try and convert the debt into longer-term instruments,” she said.

At the AGM, shareholders approved audit fees of US$70 000 for Deloitte and directors’ remuneration of US$13 880.

Shareholders approved a share options scheme amounting to 20 million shares as the last shares under the 2005 scheme had been granted in May 2008. Shareholders also approved the increase in its authorised share capital to 700 million shares from 450 million.

Kupara said with a fair value adjustment of US$694 000 due to spending on inputs and finance costs of US$166 000, the bottom line loss had been reduced to US$250 000.

“The fair value adjustment more accurately represented the performance in the four months since Ariston would reap increased revenues on funds spent on imports,” she said.

Tea production in for the year ending September 30 was forecast at 2 445tonnes, compared with 1 070 tonnes last year. The group is targeting 3 500 tonnes next year.

Potato production rose to 700 tonnes from 196 tonnes last year. She said proteas would be harvested earlier this year, which would result in a price of around 0,46 euro cents a stem.

At Kent, the group had placed 297 000 birds compared with none last year and was operating at full capacity as at January 31 this year.
Summer cropping had seen 265 hectares of soya, maize and sugar beans planted compared with 30 hectars last year. She said greenhouses were also being repaired.

The group said an agreement to supply OK Zimbabwe was now in place. Trading depots had been reopened in Gweru, Chinhoyi and Kariba. Outgrower schemes were being investigated as the group still imports 40% of its requirements.

While capex was forecast at US$142 000 in the year, US$200 000 had already been spent and US$60 000 was required for a tea bagging machine and another US$125 000 for new vehicles for Favco.

Going forward, the group said it is well positioned to increase production across its main product range — tea, macadamia, fruit, poultry and trout — while also reducing the unit costs of production, improving efficiencies andquality.

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