Simonds Farsons Cisk plc’s 73rd annual general meeting was held remotely due to the issues related to a COVID -19 environment. Group Chairman Mr Louis A Farrugia stated that the high level of disruption brought about by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic are expected to persist during the coming months, as is the uncertainty that has come in its wake. The Board of Directors and Management remain vigilant and are committed to implement further measures which may be necessary to safeguard the Group’s presence in the market, to protect the work force and to secure the financial viability and integrity of the business.
Group turnover for the year ended 31 January 2020 improved by 4% over the previous year to reach €103 million. Despite this turnover growth, the Farsons Group has seen a decline in its pre-taxation profit level from €14 million last year to €12.3 million. Meanwhile, Farsons registered an interim net profit of €1.6 million for the six-month period between 1st February and 31st July 2020, a significant reduction from the profit after tax of €6.4 million registered in July 2019.
Farsons Group Chairman Mr Louis A Farrugia said that the Board of Directors expects Group profitability to continue to be negatively impacted as a further reduction in consumer demand, together with potential decrease in spending power, are expected in the coming months. Based on observed current trends, however, the forecast for the second half of the year is anticipated to generate a slight improvement in profit levels.
Group CEO Mr Norman Aquilina stated: “In response to prevailing market conditions, we are compelled to focus even more closely on re-dimensioning the fixed and variable costs structures within our business model. This, along with our levels of productivity and ability to optimise on all our investments and value-added activity, need to be kept under constant review to ensure we maintain the most competitive set-up possible.”
Mr Farrugia concluded that, in a difficult and uncertain environment, the Board of Directors, after the most careful consideration, feels that the payment of an interim dividend would not be in the long-term interest of the business. The Board believes that a prudent course of action is called for during this time; prioritising conserving cash and capital, continuing to reduce costs, and remaining alert and agile to be able to respond to any change in circumstances.
Apart from approving the income statement and statement of financial position for the year ended 31 January 2020, and the reports of the Directors and the Auditors thereon, and the re-appointment of auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers, the meeting authorised the Company to use electronic means to circulate certain information to its shareholders as permitted by law.
The shareholders also approved a new memorandum and articles of association for the Company. Among others, this widens the objects clause of the Company, and provides for participation in general meetings by electronic means. Moreover, the Company is no longer required to circulate printed copies of the annual accounts once these have been made available on its website and the shareholders have been informed accordingly.
The Board of Directors was also reconfirmed.