Wilderness Holdings, the BSE-listed tourism outfit, put smiles on shareholders faces as its results showed it managed to grow turnover at a time when most of its peers are reeling from global recession.
In a statement accompanying its financial results, the company, which has operations across the SADC region, attributed the numbers to new businesses while it simultaneously managed to increase market share.
“We anticipated that, in the period immediately after the onset of the economic crisis in 2008/09, the revenue line of the business was going to be difficult to grow at historical rates,” the company, headed by Andy Payne, stated.
“Therefore, we focused on gaining market share, improving our competitive positioning, cost-cutting and productivity initiatives. During this period we also recognised the importance of releasing low-yielding capital,” it added.
The group results for the year ended 28 February 2011 showed turnover increased by 9 percent to P949 million from P872 million in the same period last year.
The 2.5 percent of the increase in turnover came from new businesses while the real increase of 6.5 percent is attributed to a growth in market share in higher yielding markets.
Other income of P13 million resulted primarily from two insurance claims amounting to approximately P9 million.
The profit on sale of business of P29 million results from the Duba Plains transaction as announced in a circular on 16 August 2010.
The group’s share of the profits from associated companies increased from P3 million in 2010 to P60 million for the current year.
Operating profit decreased by 26 percent to P51 million from P68 million in the same period last year.
Profit after tax increased by 79 percent to P92 million, due to gains from sale of two non-core assets.
The company added that the increase in turnover was comforting in view of the fact that no rate increase was levied for the majority of the period under review, meaning that growth was a result of a combination of improved yield and occupancy.
Bednight sales in the group’s infancy businesses in Zambia and Zimbabwe rose by 30 percent while in Botswana (classified as mature businesses) saw some growth in bednights sold, but this was largely offset by the drop in demand for Namibian and South African product.
Wilderness said it is positioning itself for the future challenges, including the re-branding of the business, moving from a ‘house of brands’ to a ‘branded house’.
The unveiling of this new profile was undertaken in May at Indaba 2011 in Durban.
It has also launched a new brand called the ‘Wilderness Collection’. This brand will focus on unique sustainable programmes in iconic locations all initially in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands while entering into new collaboration initiatives with PUMA A.G., the Zeitz Foundation and The Travel Corporation.
Although the group has committed P58 million to develop and refurbish certain camps and properties in the year ahead on 24 May 2011, the company declared a final dividend for the year ended 28 February 2011 of 8.6 thebe per share.