Wilderness Holdings, the top eco-tourism outfit that operates in Botswana and the region, is mulling expanding to other parts of the continent, as it continues on its 2013 course that focused on consolidation and organic growth. The Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed group, which trades as Wilderness Safaris and is a proud owner of, among others, Mombo camp in The Okavango Delta, said its prospects for the future look very bright in the region, where it has a sizeable market share.
In its latest consolidated financial results for the year ended 28 February 2014, the group announced that nearly P81 million was reinvested in capital expenditure, including camp assets, technology and new camps.
A statement from the Group said the focus of the past year has been on consolidation and organic growth. This is expected to continue on the back of the stronger US market and an improvement in the European market.
“Various opportunities for expansion both within the current geographic footprint of the Group and beyond into other regions of Africa have been identified and expansion plans are being considered,” it added.
The company said two new camps under the Explorations brand were opened as well as the new Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia, scheduled for opening in August 2014.
During the period, the board approved P93 million in capital expenditure to maintain and develop new camps and other assets, thus expanding the group’s earnings base. The board envisage that this will be funded by existing cash balances and new borrowing facilities. Cash available has increased by 80 percent to P251 million, notwithstanding a decrease in average interest bearing debt of 7 percent with an overall improvement in working capital.
“The market outlook on tourism in Southern Africa is positive, therefore the board is optimistic about the future and thanks its staff for their effort over the past year,” Wilderness added.
Wilderness–with its meat in Botswana—owns and operates more than 60 luxury safari camps in nine African countries. Most camps are marketed under one of two trading brands, Wilderness Safaris or Wilderness Collection, both recognised as leading brands in the travel industry. According to the results, Wilderness revenues rose to P1.4 billion from P1.2 billion in 28 February 2013, which is a 16 percent change. Gross profit went up from P514.5 million to P584.8 million while profit after taxation went up 75 percent from P27.7 million to P48.5 million. The Group made other gains that amounted to P17.2 million including P14 million profit from the disposal of an associate and a property in Namibia together with a profit of P2.6 million on disposal of the Lusaka property. The Wilderness board declared a final dividend for the year ended 28 February 2014 of 10.0 thebe per share on 21 May 2014 (9.25 thebe per share net of Botswana withholding tax).