Ariston Holdings in April concluded a US$8 million rights offer which was underwritten by the South Africa-based Afrifresh. The company said the capital injection was focused towards trading at the expense of farming operations.
Group revenue fell 3% to US$6,7 million, down from US$6,9 million in the same period the previous year. Finance costs went up by 61,8% to US$524 715, up from US$324 259 the previous year. The company said this was consistent with the increase in borrowings, which went up to US$5,4 million, and the cost of funds, resulting in the loss before tax of US$370 000.
In a statement accompanying the company’s financial results, company secretary Faith Musinga said the retirement of expensive debt reduced the interest burden and improved relations with the group’s suppliers.
On operations, Musinga said Ariston had reintroduced products it once discontinued and these had been accepted by the market and demand continued to firm. Fruit and vegetable distribution division Favco’s turnover grew 24% to US$4,3 million, contributing 65% to group revenue. The unit made an operating profit before tax and interest of US$154 000 and its performance was attributed to high demand for its products.
Tea, coffee and macadamia grower subsidiary Southdown Estates recorded a turnover of US$1, 4 million, contributing 21% to group revenue. The division’s turnover was however down 13% from the corresponding period last year. Southdown recorded an operating loss of US$253 000 compared to the US$111 000 the previous year. The group expects macadamia and tea volumes to rise this season despite having been 26% below forecast at 627 tonnes in the period under review, owing to frost.
Claremont Estates, engaged in the growing of pome and stone fruit, breeder-protected field flowers and trout reported US$595 000 in turnover, accounting for 9% of group revenue. Claremont’s turnover was up 15% from the previous year. The horticulture division also suffered from slow activity due to lack of resources, erratic power supply and low international prices for flowers.
Roses, poultry and livestock concern Kent estate’s turnover totalled US$ 416 000, a 70% decline from the previous year.