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Sefalana rakes P232 million in profits

Botswana ‘s home grown diversified retail & wholesale  group Sefalana  ,which portfolio runs across Southern Africa  successfully managed to emerge from 2017 difficult  trading environment. The Group recorded a whopping 34 percent increase in profit before tax for the year ended 30 April 2018, raking in P232 million.

This is in comparison to the prior year which ended 30th April 2017, a year which the Group operations faced one of the most difficult trading circumstances in years, especially in its major market, Botswana. This was predominately because of the effects of 2016 closure of some major mining companies and parastatals, which spilled over into 2017 and shrunk macroeconomic cash flows as well as domestic purchasing power.

For the year under review, the Botswana Stock Exchange(BSE) listed  diversified  goods and commodities conglomerate put in place several cost saving initiatives in a bid to extract value from the company‘s well diversified group of businesses across the Region. Sefalana Operates in Botswana, Namibia, and Lesotho and of late entered the lucrative South African market and the Zambian property space.

According to the company’s audited financials released this week several customer services nectarines such as online shopping beard fruits as the Group registered a total comprehensive income of P189.1 million representing a 21 percent increase on the prior year.
The Group‘s revenue hit P4.8 billion mirroring a satisfactory rise of 12 percent compared to the prior year.

“We are pleased to report that through this approach, we have been able to close this year on a very positive note. We are confident that our shareholders and potential investors will be pleased with our performance and will be enthused with the forward-looking prospects of our business,” said Chandra Chauhan, Sefalana Group Managing Director this week when addressing stakeholders on the Group performance. One of Sefalana‘s key market is Botswana. The company was conceived in Botswana in the early years of Botswana‘s economic development epoch.

During the year under review Botswana operations continued to contribute significantly to the Group‘s financial performance. Though the division businesses experienced increased pressure on margins for both wholesale and retail segments the operations registered a 3 percent increase in turnover, collecting P2.6 billion compared to 2.52 billion gathered during the financial year ended April 2017. Sefalana Cash & Carry Limited contributed 54 percent and 23 percent of the Group’s revenue and profit before tax for the year, respectively.

However, overall profitability for the division fell significantly.  “Efforts are being made to limit the impact of these pressures as we anticipate restored market conditions and improved results in the ensuing year,” underscored the Group Sefalana boss. At the beginning of the financial year, Sefalana operated three Hyper Stores, 25 Cash and Carry stores and 23 supermarket retail stores across the country, giving the Group a total of 51 stores in Botswana.

“We have taken a cautious approach to new store openings over the last three years as we recognize the saturation levels in the market, and have tried to avoid increasing our overhead costs in any particular area where the market size remains unchanged,” he said. According to Sefalana Executives, strategic approaches enabled the Group to cut cost and save for more profitable operations given the unfavorable trading circumstances that the year under review was.

“Where we are present, we strive to work towards offering our customers a one stop-shop experience and pride ourselves on being first in the market to introduce a number of initiatives”   added The Group MD. Sefalana launched several initiatives to enhance customer service, convenience and efficiency in the process also cashing in big for the company through cost cutting and reduced overheads. This includes Sefalana Online shopping site, Sefalana Mobile App, Sefalana rewards and credit facilities amongst others.

According to  Sefalana Executives, the Sefalana Online Shopping site which the company prides itself  for  being Botswana ‘s first FMGG online purchasing offering  did exceptionally well as it started off in Gaborone and surrounding areas gathering satisfactory feedback.  “Initially, the online service was only offered to our customers in and around Gaborone. In November 2017, we extended this service to Francistown and Maun where our customers in the area requested that we also offer this service to them.”

Namibia operations contributed 32 percent and 23 percent of revenue and profit before tax for the year, respectively. Turnover amounted to P1.5 billion, a growth of 15 percent on the prior year. Profit before tax   for the Namibia division amounted to P54 million, up 19 percent from the prior year.  “Our operations in Namibia continue to grow from strength to strength, making a larger contribution to overall Group results each year, as we enhance our customer engagement and offering,” reads the statement.

During the year under review Sefalana pursed expansion plans in Namibia in a bid to broaden market access and performance for existing stores. The Group’s division in Lesotho which has been operating for the past year and half delivered strong financials for the company: “We are delighted to have built a strong presence in the market in a very short space of time, “said Chauhan.  Lesotho operations registered total turnover of P388 million for the year under review, contributing 8 percent of total Group revenue.

The segment achieved an EBITA of P9.5 million for the year, and a profit before tax of P2.1 million after taking into account finance charges. This according to Sefalana executives is a significant improvement on the loss of P5.6 million experienced in the first six months of trading since acquisition. “We operate in a very low margin environment in Lesotho and therefore look to improve the profitability of this business through top line growth and by offering our customers an excellent service,” he said.

Sefalana also operates heavy duty commodities dealership in Botswana which consists of Commercial Motors (Pty) Limited and Mechanized Farming (Pty) Limited, under this segment the company pushes industrial locomotives, automotives, cars and farming machinery amongst others. The segment contributed 3 percent and 9 percent to Group turnover and profit before tax, respectively.

CML historically relied on tender business, and over recent years has been focusing on growing its private sales as a result of a general decline in tender activity. During the year, the business secured the sale of a number of vehicles to the private sector thereby improving its performance compared to the prior year. Another segment, Manufacturing, consists of Foods Botswana (Pty) Limited, the division contributed 5 percent and 9 percent to Group turnover and profit before tax for the year respectively.

Chauhan, said a greater level of profitability was achieved as compared to the prior year, mainly due to short term orders placed by Government and growth of our house brands within the Beverages division.  The company underscores that for the Milling and Beverages more strategies and expansion efforts were being put in place to diversify business windows for the two divisions in a bid to reduce reliance on government tenders.  On the 26th of July 2018, the Board of Directors of Sefalana Holding Company Limited declared a final gross dividend of 23 thebe per ordinary share.

“Our focus will continue to be on our core segments that generate strong returns for the Group. We identified the need to expand into the Region and have successfully done this through a careful and cautious expansion plan into three countries over the last four years, taking into account the impact of the various macro-economic environments and also considering the foreign exchange risk of retranslation of returns,” said Managing Director Chauhan. 

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Pan-African risk advisor Minet Group and Botswana’s Africa Lighthouse Capital acquire Aon Botswana

21st May 2021
Pan-African-risk-advisor-Minet-Group-

Strategic partnership offers inherent benefits of global knowledge, African insights, and local expertise and commitment

Minet Group and Africa Lighthouse Capital today announced that they have received regulatory approval and fulfilled all requirements to acquire Aon’s shareholding in Aon Botswana, and consequently will begin the process to rebrand to Minet Botswana.

Minet Group is a well-known and trusted pan-African risk advisory firm and Aon’s largest Global Network Correspondent and has been rapidly expanding its African footprint since 2017 through the acquisition of operations from global professional services firm Aon in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.   Minet has been delivering world class products and services across Africa for over 70 years.

Africa Lighthouse Capital (ALC) is a leading Botswana citizen-owned private equity firm focused on investing in Botswana companies and propelling them into regional champions, with over BWP 500 million in funds under management.

The new entity will be rebranded to Minet and will inherit deeply rooted respect by its clients for their innovative and locally relevant solutions, responsiveness, and efficient processes. Furthermore, it shall have the benefit of consistency in leadership and staffing, with Barnabas Mavuma, previously Managing Director of Aon Botswana, continuing to lead the business as the MD supported by the local management team.

 “The addition of Minet Botswana to our growing African network affirms our belief in the great opportunities for growth that Africa offers, driven by rising consumer demand, huge investment in infrastructure and quick adoption of new technology,” says Joe Onsando, CEO at Minet Group.

“This transaction significantly adds to the diversity and skills base of our team and will have a positive impact on the range of products and services we provide. Our Correspondent agreement with Aon gives us access to global expertise and data driven insights and uniquely positions us to deliver risk advisory solutions that reduce volatility, thus driving improved performance for our clients. This is a very exciting time to be Minet in Africa.”

“The significantly increased Botswana citizen shareholding effected by this transaction gives rise to an exciting era of local market focus and growth for Minet Botswana,” says Bame Pule, Founder and CEO of Africa Lighthouse Capital.  “We intend to work with Minet Botswana’s local management team to further localise the business in terms of product development, while at the same time investing in local skills development and business development.  We look forward to this exciting journey, which will result in a significantly enhanced service offering for Minet Botswana’s clients.”

Consequently, and similar to the other members of the Minet Group, Minet Botswana becomes an Aon Global Network Correspondent, retaining its access to Aon’s resources, technology, and best practises, combined with the benefit of independent, local agility. This transaction furthermore significantly increases local shareholding, enabling operations to become even nimbler and better positioned to unlock new and existing growth opportunities.

Clients of Minet Botswana will experience continuity of product and service delivery standards in the short term. In the near future, they can expect an enhanced offering that combines agility with technology and product innovation, tailormade for their specific needs.

Together, Minet and ALC bring a sound understanding of local market conditions, strong governance, and an established track record in the region. These qualities, combined with Aon’s global capabilities and expertise, will bring clear benefits for clients.

This transaction vastly increases citizen ownership with shareholders who are going to be active in the business. The transfer of equity interests in Botswana to investors with local and regional expertise, presence and commitment will allow the businesses to move quickly in line with market movements, and to introduce products that are tailored to the local market.

“Minet’s commitment and drive to incessantly adapt to changing market conditions, and to innovate to meet the unique insurance demands of the African continent, while maintaining the high standards customers have come to expect – Onsando concludes – will continue to grow and give Minet a powerful competitive edge within the African market”.

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Africa scores $285 Billion IMF deal

21st May 2021
IMF-Managing-Director-Kristalina-Georgieva

French President Emmanuel Macron received 21 Heads of state and government officials from Africa during the recent summit on the Financing of African Economies that focused on Africa to take full advantage of the tectonic shifts in the global economy and the call for a joint effort for financial and vaccination support for the continent.

President Emmanuel Macron stressed that “Most regions of the world are now launching massive post-pandemic recovery plans, using their huge monetary and fiscal instruments. But most African economies suffer the lack of adequate capacities and such instruments to do the same. We cannot afford leaving the African economies behind.

We, the Leaders participating to the Summit, in the presence of international organizations, share the responsibility to act together and fight the great divergence that is happening between countries and within countries.

This requires collective action to build a very substantial financial package, to provide a much-needed economic stimulus as well as the means to invest for a better future. Our ambition is to address immediate financing needs, to strengthen the capacity of African governments to support a strong and sustainable economic recovery and to reinforce the vibrant African private sector, as a long-term growth driver for Africa.”

For her part, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva highlighted that “there is urgency to focus on financing Africa. Last year, the pandemic-caused recession shrank the GDP of the Continent by 1.9 percent – the worst performance on record. This year, we project global growth at 6 percent, but only half that 3.2 percent for Africa.” Adding that Africa needs to grow faster than the world at 7 to 10 percent to meet the aspirations of its youthful populations, and become more prosperous and more secure.

Georgieva revealed that the price tag on the shot is estimated to be “$285 billion through 2025. Of this $135 billion is for low-income countries. This is the bare minimum. To do more – to get African nations back on their previous path of catching up with wealthy countries – will cost roughly twice as much. These are large numbers. They may seem out of reach. But to quote Nelson Mandela: impossible until it is done.”

The main areas of interest to achieve this include; first, end the pandemic everywhere, 40 percent of the population of all countries is targeted to get vaccinated by the end of 2021, and at least 60 percent by mid-2022.

Second, bilateral and multilateral development financing grants and concessional loans ought to go up. Over the last year, the IMF have swiftly ramped their financing for the Continent, including providing 13 times their average annual lending to sub-Saharan Africa. And are working to do much more. The IMF has also received support to increase access limits so they can scale up their zero-interest lending capacity through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

The IMF has also devised exceptional measures. Their membership backs an unprecedented new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of $650 billion, by far the largest in their history. Once approved, which is intended to be achieved by the end of August, it will directly and immediately make about $33 billion available to African members. It will boost their reserves and liquidity, without adding to their debt burden.

Over the course of the last year, the IMF has built experience in facilitating the on lending of SDRs – thus managing to triple their concessional lending capacity as a result.

The Third being, actions at home. According to Georgieva “a crisis is an opportunity for transformational domestic reforms that increase domestic revenue, improve public services, and strengthen governance. For instance, digitalization can improve tax administration and revenue collection, and the quality of public spending. And with radical transparency, Africa can tap into new sources of finance – such as carbon offsets.

There is ample scope for countries to encourage private investment, including in social and physical infrastructure. New IMF research, published today, highlights that domestic and international investors could provide at least 3 percent of GDP per year of additional financing by the end of this decade.”

Reforms of international taxation can also support Africa’s growth. For a long time, the IMF has been in favor of minimum corporate tax rates to reduce the race to the bottom and tax avoidance. And they strongly support an international agreement on digital tax, something France has been a leading voice for. It is important to secure fair distribution of tax revenues, so they can contribute to closing Africa’s financial gap.

Georgieva called on to each and every one to step up. Reminding the attendees that from history they are all familiar with what a shock of this magnitude can do if not countered forcefully and effectively.

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Indian COVID-19 variant hits Botswana diamond sales

20th May 2021
Indian-Covid--19-variant-hit-rough-diamonds-sales---De-Beers-

De Beers’ Group, the world’s number one diamond producer by value, this week attributed the downfall of its sales for the fourth cycle week to the second wave of the Covid-19 variant (B.1.617.2) which was first discovered in India.

Diamond trading conditions have been hit by the Covid-19 crisis in India which is a major cutting and polishing centre for the world’s diamond trade.

The outbreak of the new variant has led to a humanitarian crisis with 280, 284 fatalities of the disease reported.

The London headquartered company said the sales in its fourth cycle fell to $380m (about P4.1 billion) down from $450m (about P4.8 billion) in the third cycle though it was higher than the fifth cycles of last year when the group shifted only $56m (P600 million).

De Beers emphasized that they continued to implement a more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the fourth sales cycle of 2021, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

The De Beers group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bruce Cleaver said the company continues to see robust demand for diamond jewellery in the key US and China consumer markets.

“However, the scale of the second wave of Covid-19 in India, where the majority of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished, has led to reduced midstream capacity and subsequently lower rough diamond demand, during what is already a seasonally slower time of year for midstream purchases,” said Cleaver.

Meanwhile Botswana health officials have confirmed the new Covid-19 variant in Botswana. The Ministry of Health and Wellness -through a press statement- informed members of the public that the variant (B.1.617), was confirmed in Botswana on 13th May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

Moreover the World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting that the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

The India variant (B.1.617.2) – is one of four mutated versions of the coronavirus which has been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

Nevertheless when speaking at Bank of America Global Metals and Mining conference, Anglo American Chief Executive Officer, Mark Cutifani said the company portfolio is increasingly tilted towards future enabling products and those that need to decarbonise energy and transport in order to meet consumers’ needs – from home appliances, electronics and infrastructure, to food and luxury goods.

“We see material opportunity for Anglo American to continue to set itself apart in terms of the performance of our diversified business, further enhanced through sector-leading 25% volume growth over the next four years, led by copper and the platinum group metals,” said Cutifani.

“Most importantly, as the supplier of such critical materials, it is the duty of our industry to ensure that in everything we do, we act responsibly and deliver enduring value for our full breadth of stakeholders, including our planet.”

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