Vitasoy Recorded a Consistent Business Growth with Acceleration across Categories and Geographies

HONG KONG, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — 

Year ended  31st March

2014

HK$ Mn

 

2013

HK$ Mn

(restated)

Change

%

Turnover

4,494

4,051

11

Gross profit

2,175

1,925

13

EBITDA

653

618

6

Profit before taxation

457

423

8

Profit after taxation

341

334

2

Profit attributable to equity 
      shareholders of the Company

307

301

2

Basic earnings per ordinary share
     
(HK cents)

29.8

29.4

1

Interim dividend per share
     
(HK cents)

3.2

3.2

0

Final dividend per share (HK cents)

17.0

16.6

2

Dividend per share (HK cents)

20.2

19.8

2

Vitasoy International Holdings Limited (“VIHL” or “the Group”) (SEHK Code: 0345), a Hong Kong-based manufacturer, marketer and distributor of non-carbonated beverages and food, today announced its audited annual results for the year ended 31stMarch 2014.

During the year, VIHL recorded a consistent strong growth of 11% in net sales to HK$4,494 million and achieved acceleration across core categories and markets. The gross margin increased 13% to HK$2,175 million, while profit attributable to equity shareholders improved by 2% to HK$307 million. The Group maintained its gross profit margin at last year’s level of 48% attributed by the use of tactful pricing strategy and improved manufacturing efficiency.

“We forged ahead our business with strong execution focusing on core brands and key products despite a slower macroeconomic growth and rising commodity and labour costs. During the year, we focused our investment and innovation in our core categories of Soy/Plant Milk, Tofu and Tea and introduced more nutritional products to appeal to consumer needs. In terms of geographical development, our Mainland China business has accelerated gradually, while Hong Kong and Australia continued to sustain their performance and local leadership position. The North American have successfully restored profitability and Singapore operations maintained the business growth,” said Mr. Winston Yau-lai Lo, Executive Chairman of VIHL.

Basic earnings per ordinary share were HK$29.8 cents for the period. The Board of Directors of VIHL proposed the payment of a final dividend of HK$17.0 cents per ordinary share (FY2012/13: HK$16.6 cents per ordinary share) for the year ended 31stMarch 2014. Together with the interim dividend of HK$3.2 cents per ordinary share, the total dividend per ordinary share amounted to HK$20.2 cents (FY2012/13: HK$19.8 cents per ordinary share).

Business Review

Hong Kong Consistent growth driven by focusing on core categories and in-store execution

The Hong Kong operation reported a 6% sales growth to HK$1,899 million. The Group’s efforts in growing its soy milk and ready-to-drink tea categories have resulted in a stronger market leadership position. VITASOY CALCI-PLUS have reported the strongest sales growth within soy category, whilst SANSUI achieving the leadership position in the fresh soy drink segment. In the last financial year, Vitasoy Hong Kong’s operating profit grew by 9% to HK$348 million.

In terms of new product and packaging, the Hong Kong operation has recently launched a new PET packaging for VITASOY soymilk and an innovative VITA Hong Kong Style Milk Tea to expand the Tea offerings.

The operating profit of Vitaland Group, a subsidiary of VIHL in school tuck shop business, has grown profitably, primarily driven by its dedicated efforts in driving new school accounts and school renewals, improved product mix and better planning labour and raw materials.

Mr. Roberto Guidetti, VIHL Group Chief Executive Officer, said, “We will keep strengthening our leadership position of our core brands across channels and packaging formats. Packaging innovation, brand execution and distribution expansion are crucial to further drive the growth of our core categories.”

Mainland China — Acceleration via innovation, execution and expansion

The Mainland China business maintained its strong growth momentum in the midst of a challenging operating environment and reported a 28% increase in net sales revenue to HK$1,505 million and 19% growth in operating profit to HK$145 million respectively. The “Go Deep, Go Wide” strategy has driven the Group’s growth in business and making inroads into new territories, such as Jiangsu, Anhui, Hebei, Wuhan and Fujian.

During the year, Vitasoy China focused on unifying the VITASOY regional programs into a national one and rolled out a new communication campaign emphasising the product’s unique functional benefits. In addition, a brand restage program which used new packaging graphics harmonizing with Hong Kong’s VITASOY brand equities has increased the brand awareness in Mainland China.

On the product front, the operation’s renewed execution and expansion of VITA Lemon Tea has resulted in the strong growth beyond the previous Guangdong borders and successfully adding a new revenue stream for VIHL.

“We will continue to accelerate business growth using our proven business model in Mainland China and focus on delivering a sustainable performance. We will also strengthen our execution, expansion and innovation in order to drive growth and build brand visibility, and raise the operational capabilities of our production bases,” said Mr. Guidetti.

Australia and New Zealand — Solid growth behind VITASOY restage, offset by weakened Australia dollar

Vitasoy Australia reported a 7% increase in sales revenue and 9% increase in operating profit in Australian dollar respectively. However, as impacted by currency depreciation, the operation recorded a decrease of 5% to HK$492 million in revenue and a drop of 1% to HK$87 million in operating profit.

During the year under review, the operation restaged its core Organic VITASOY range by leveraging the Australian grown whole bean proposition. Launch of new product packaging and an integrated TV campaign has helped the brand securing its number 1 position in the Soymilk market.  In addition, the VITASOY Oatmilk range has also been leading the market share in the category. Vitasoy has introduced a new “Organic” variant of CAFE for BARISTAS in the premium cafe market.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to bring innovative products, focus on the execution in grocery channels and drive the growth in coffee channels,” Mr. Guidetti added.

North America — Sustaining top line growth whilst restoring profitability

Vitasoy USA recorded a 6% increase in net sales revenue to HK$513 million and reported an operating profit of HK$7 million, mainly attributed by the volume growth and improved manufacturing and logistic efficiency.

During the year, the operation restaged NASOYA Tofu and launched a new packaging design. Vitasoy USA has secured a strong year of solid sales growth across all business channels and expanded the leading market position in both the US Tofu and Asian Pasta categories.

Mr. Guidetti said, “With our improved business base, we will continue to improve profitability of our North American business. We will increase our efforts in launching new value-added products in both Asian and mainstream markets and consumer communication campaigns. We will also continue our focus on further optimizing the manufacturing efficiency and reducing operating costs.”

Singapore — Maintaining leadership, strengthening operations and increasing profitability

Unicurd, the Group’s wholly-owned subsidiary in Singapore, reported a 2% growth in net sales revenue to HK$85 million and 14% increase in operating profit to HK$8 million, attributed by a profitable product and channel mix as well as higher manufacturing efficiency. Unicurd will continue scaling up, adding important innovations and expanding the VITASOY franchise to drive business acceleration.

Outlook

Mr. Winston Lo, Executive Chairman of VIHL, concluded, “Our growth in FY2013/2014 has given us a strong and solid base for future development. We are confident that our growth will continue to benefit from the tailwinds of healthy trend and the demand for nutritious foods, despite a mixed global macroeconomic outlook. In the coming year, we will focus on our cores, which comprise our commitment to product quality, brand equity, our expanded infrastructure, and the readiness and competence of our people, through execution, expansion and innovation, to secure a long term success.”  

Chongqing Further Develops Liangjiang New Area

CHONGQING, China, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — As the first state-level new special economic development zone in inland China, Chongqing Liangjiang New Area welcomed a new batch of major project contracts on June 18. A total of 43 major projects with …

International SOS provides advice for a healthy Ramadan

BEIJING, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/  International SOS is providing travellers and expatriates with seven key tips for staying healthy during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan.

Dr Salwan Ibrahim, Deputy Regional Medical Director for the Middle East Region at International SOS, said:

“The holy month of Ramadan is an important time for Muslims worldwide. It is a time of reflection, devotion to God and self-control. From a medical point of view it is important to stay healthy during this period. That means staying hydrated, eating wisely, and making sure to take sufficient rest.”

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan. This year the holy month falls during the hot season in the Middle East and North Africa and during the time of year with the longest hours of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere.

Dr Ibrahim said:

“The main risks of fasting are low blood sugar and dehydration, and with Ramadan falling during the height of summer, it’s important that people are particularly aware of the risks this year. Fasters should adopt routines gradually and be moderate in their eating and drinking habits during the hours of darkness. Business travellers and expatriates should consider the advice regardless of whether they are working in one fixed location or if they are on the move”

International SOS’ seven tips for the Holy Month are:

  1. Eat moderately at Iftar – When breaking the fast it is important to avoid large intakes of sugar and fatty foods, which can disturb the metabolism and cause dizziness, headaches and fatigue. Break the fast with dates and yoghurt, water and fruit juice and then wait 10 minutes before consuming a sensible portion of further food, which should be rich in minerals.
  2. Make sure to eat Suhour – With sunrise occurring early in the Northern Hemisphere on the year’s longest days, there is a temptation to sleep or simply drink water rather than rising to eat a proper Suhour. International SOS’ doctors advise that it is better always to eat Suhour, and to choose complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread, barley and lentils to provide energy throughout the day of fasting ahead.
  3. Get sufficient sleep – The holy month of Ramadan is a time of increased prayer and gatherings of family and friends. Frequently this can mean less opportunity to sleep during the night. Fasters should make sure to get eight hours of sleep in every 24 hour period, even if this is split into several separate periods of rest.
  4. Adapt your exercise routine – It is still possible to follow weight loss and exercise routines during the Holy Month of Ramadan. However, exercise plans should be moderated to allow for the change in eating patterns. Fasters should concentrate on lighter exercises, such as brisk walking, and pay particular attention to the time of day they choose to take exercise; International SOS recommends waiting 2-3 hours after breaking fast before a work-out.
  5. Managing medication and chronic illness – Fasters with chronic health conditions should consult a doctor for advice on how fasting may affect their health. As a general rule, medication usually taken at breakfast can be taken at Iftar, whilst medications usually taken at dinner can be taken at Suhour. Diabetics should consult a physician for advice on how they can continue to take Insulin and should monitor blood sugar carefully around mealtimes.
  6. Plan workload carefully – Although in many countries work hours are reduced during Ramadan, it is advisable to plan workloads to minimise fatigue. Work that requires heavy concentration should be carried out in the early morning hours. Where possible, working fasters should work at intervals throughout the day to avoid unnecessary strain rather than attempting one long work period.
  7. Be extra cautious on the road – Low blood sugar from fasting can seriously affect fasters’ capabilities and concentration behind the wheel. In many Muslim countries, traffic will be heavy in the hour before sunset, as people return home to break the fast. Traffic accidents tend to peak at this time. Avoid road travel later in the day whenever possible and exercise extra caution if travel is required. This may include choosing to travel with a passenger who can help keep the driver alert. It is always better to take regular breaks rather than continuing to drive for long periods of time whilst drowsy or otherwise impaired.

Walmart to Sponsor Food Fraud Prevention Online Course In China

BEIJING, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Walmart has agreed to sponsor the translation of a Food Fraud Prevention online course to the Mandarin language. The course was developed by Dr. John Spink, Professor at Michigan State University (MSU) and Director of the University’s Food Fraud Initiative. Dr. Spink, a recognized expert in this area, has joined Walmart in their efforts to help customers, regulators, suppliers and retailers increase public awareness of food fraud prevention in China and prevent food fraud through joint efforts in the market.

MSU’s first Food Fraud Prevention Overview was originally conducted in May of 2013 and it has only been offered in English. Since its debut, the massive open online course (MOOC) has seen over 800 participants from 48 countries take in the free course. Following the first MOOC, there has been great interest in follow-up courses and translation into other languages. The Walmart sponsorship of the first language translation of the MOOC into Mandarin is a critical next step in protecting against food fraud and improving the global food supply chain.

This two-week MOOC is offered free to anyone, anywhere, who has Internet access. The first Mandarin version of the two-week course will be offered in two sections, on August 5 and August 12. It is especially targeted to be a tool to help food companies in China further strengthen their food fraud prevention and surveillance programs.

Participants of the MOOC will gain important insights into the reasons food fraud continues to be a major issue in the global supply chain. The course will draw on a wide range of current experience and expertise, infusing many real-world applications and problem-solving exercises that will provide a framework for success in the future.

Frank Yiannas, Vice President of Food Safety for Walmart said, “At Walmart, we take the issue of food fraud very seriously. Because prevention of food fraud is a shared responsibility and education is a key to deterrence, Walmart is delighted to be able to help Michigan State University make the course more broadly available to regulatory officials, industry professionals, consumers and other stakeholders in China.”  

Dr. Spink said, “We are grateful for forwardthinking companies like Walmart who are working, and investing in, improving the safety of the world’s foods.” He elaborated that, “When we rapidly expand the education and awareness building at this early stage in the development of the science, we can more efficiently establish a starting point and trajectory of our actions.”

“Food fraud has been recognized as a common challenge not only for retailers but also the whole supply chain, Walmart China Chief Compliance Office Paul Gallemore said. “As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart intends to leverage global food safety expertise and best practices to help our suppliers address the problem together in order to provide even greater assurance of food product quality, authenticity and safety to our customers.”

The retailer recently announced they are continuing to invest heavily in food safety for China with their total investment for 2013, 2014 and 2015 reaching 300 million Yuan. A portion of this investment has been heavily focused on supplier training and management. Walmart is helping suppliers understand and comply not only with China’s regulations, but the company’s extensive and rigorous food safety policies. Meanwhile, the company will perform additional testing and tougher standards for suppliers in 2014, increasing DNA testing on meat products by 100 percent and facility audits and inspections of primary producers by more than 30 percent from 2013. Walmart China has also taken a zero-tolerance policy on food fraud.