20 - 26 June , 2001
By David Lindsay
At its 54th Annual General Meeting held on Monday, Simonds Farsons Cisk Chairman Bryan A. Gera, explained that the Group last year registered a six per cent increase in turnover, while also confirming a total ordinary dividend of 1c7 per share net of tax.
He explained that the Group registered an improvement in its performance for the year ending 31 January 2001. The company reported, in addition to the six per cent increase in turnover from Lm21.2 million to Lm22.5 million, an improvement in consolidated profit before tax from Lm907,000 to Lm1.02 million - an increase of 13 per cent.
"Our improved performance was mainly due to the acquisition of Anthony Caruana & Sons Limited, a reduction of administrative expenses and a lowering of interest payable on Group borrowing throughout the business," Mr Gera commented.
The results were achieved despite the difficult business environment in the sectors in which the Group operates, mainly as a consequence of the continued market liberalisation.
Mr Gera referred to the fact that international brewers are selling into the market at below cost levels. Farsons have made their representations to government about the dangers of Malta being used as the "dumping ground" as demand for beer in the Northern European countries declines.
"Farsons is not averse to competing on a level playing field, but is often confronted with competition from suspect operations such as the production of soft drinks in plastic bottles currently not permissible by law," said Mr Gera.
In his address to shareholders, Managing Director Louis Farrugia gave an overview covering the Group's business units. "Our response to the several economic factors, which are contributing to a sub-optimal trading environment, is to pursue the key areas of our Mission Statement with greater strategic focus. Quality and innovation will continue to guide our operations in the beers, soft drinks and food franchise retail operations," he said.
The Beverages Production Unit has analysed its processes to meet industry standards such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) and ISO 9000. Further improvements included the introduction of food and drink good manufacturing practices, following guidelines established by the Institute of Food Science and Technology (UK). These efforts were instrumental in gaining approval by Smith Kline Glaxo to package its world renowned Ribena.
The Brewing Unit was involved with brewing process enhancements necessitated by the launch of the "Smooth'N'Creamy" premium range of beers.
With regard to exports to Italy, Farsons are focusing on their speciality beers. On the European mainland and within the UK, Farsons is tapping Kinnie's market potential via internet sales.
Referring to its fine wines and spirits importing subsidiary Wands Limited, Mr Farrugia stated that its performance registered an increase in turnover. Budweiser increased its sales by more than 30 per cent.
For the operator of KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut, known as Food Chain a Farsons subsidiary - the last financial year was one of innovations, further consolidation and development.
The Managing Director described the Farsons Group as possessing unrivalled capabilities and resources in technical, human and marketing areas. "Led by a strong entrepreneurial spirit, we are convinced that there is a sound potential for developing the business further," said Mr Farrugia, adding, "Overall, we remain confident in our ability to forge a better future for the Farsons Group. We are also committed to shaping events as leaders in the sectors in which we operate."
Following the Annual General Meeting, shareholders had the opportunity to buy the latest publication of The Farsons Foundation entitled "Lewis Farrugia - A Man of Substance". Penned by author John Micallef, the publication marks the occasion of the centenary of Lewis Farrugia's birth. Printed by P.E.G. Limited, the hard-bound publication is available from the Farsons Brewery, Mriehel, and the Wands Cash & Carry at Qormi, at Lm5 per copy.
Lewis Farrugia is considered as a pioneer who helped restructure the
Maltese economy between the 1920s and his death in 1956. An architect
by profession, Mr Farrugia was able to create one of Malta's most dynamic