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Stock Spirits Group PLC, a leading Central and Eastern European branded spirits producer, announces its results for the six months ended 30 June 2016.
“I am delighted to have been appointed CEO and pleased to announce EBITDA growth across all our markets for the first half of this year, after a difficult 2015. The Board is particularly pleased that the many initiatives we have put in place in Poland are starting to show positive results, with market share being regained across our core traditional trade outlets. Although the recovery is in its early days, the Board is confident that the strengthened management team in Poland will be able to build on this encouraging start over the coming months.
We are also pleased to announce today the payment of an interim dividend of €0.0227 per share, following the payment in July of a special dividend of €0.119 per share.
I would like to thank our staff for all their hard work and commitment in helping put Stock Spirits on the path to sustainable growth.”
Management will be hosting a presentation for analysts at 9.00am on Wednesday 10th August 2016 at:
60 Victoria Embankment
1 We have referenced EBITDA, a non-gaap measure in the financial highlights section. For details of the reconciliation of EBITDA to GAAP financial numbers please refer to notes 5 and 6 in the Unaudited Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
There will be a simultaneous web cast of the presentation via www.stockspirits.com with a recording made available shortly thereafter.
For further information:
Stock Spirits Group: +44 (0) 1628 648 500
Lesley Jackson, Chief Financial Officer
A copy of this interim results announcement (“announcement”) has been posted on www.stockspirits.com. Investors can also address any query to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This announcement may contain statements which are not based on current or historical fact and which are forward looking in nature. These forward looking statements may reflect knowledge and information available at the date of preparation of this announcement and the Company undertakes no obligation to update these forward looking statements. Such forward looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties facing the Group including, without limitation, those risks described in this announcement, and other unknown future events and circumstances which can cause results and developments to differ materially from those anticipated. Nothing in this announcement should be construed as a profit forecast.
This announcement contains inside information which is disclosed in accordance with the Market Abuse Regulation.
About Stock Spirits Group
Stock Spirits, one of Central and Eastern Europe’s leading branded spirits and liqueurs businesses, offers a modern premium branded spirits portfolio, rooted in local and regional heritage. With core operations in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, Stock also exports to more than 40 other countries worldwide. Global sales volumes currently total over 100 million litres per year.
Stock holds strong market positions in spirits in both Poland and the Czech Republic, where it has invested in what are believed to be state of the art production facilities, and is one of the world’s leading vodka producers. Core Stock brands include products made to long-established recipes such as Stock brandy, Fernet Stock bitters and Limonce, as well as more recent creations like Stock Prestige and Zoladkowa de Luxe vodkas.
Stock was created through the integration of Eckes & Stock and Polmos Lublin in 2008 and floated on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in October 2013.
Stock supports and is active in the promotion of responsible and moderate drinking. For further information please visit: www.stockspirits.com
In the first six months of the year, our primary focus has been the stabilisation and turnaround of the Polish business. We are now beginning to see the early signs of positive results, evidenced by a stabilisation in our Polish market share.
We have actioned most of the initiatives outlined within our 2015 year end results presentation which arose from the root and branch review we conducted. We will comment on these further in the narrative on Poland.
The overall vodka market in Poland has returned to volume growth YTD with an improvement in value, and the traditional trade still by far the most important and largest channel. The key initiative for us during H1 has been the targeted reduction in price of a number of core products in Poland. Since implementation, this is beginning to work its way through the supply chain to the consumer on shelf. The price gap between our leading products and competitor brands has narrowed and we have seen early signs of stabilisation in our overall market share.
An important step to complete in Poland was the recruitment of a full management team to replace the Group personnel who had been running the business “in situ” since early 2015. At the end of June we now have in place a full team, with a new Managing Director, Finance Director and Sales Director.
Other markets have performed in line with expectations, with EBITDA growth and EBITDA margin improvement recorded in all markets.
Following a busy year of new product launches in 2015 we have launched a limited number of new products in the first half of 2016, allowing the markets to focus on embedding the launches from last year. Notably we have now rolled out our successful premium brand, Amundsen Expedition, launched in Poland last year, into all of our markets with owned distribution.
As stated at the year end we planned to expand our portfolio, primarily in the premium segment. We are pleased to have completed new distribution agreements for the exclusive Beluga vodka brand from Synergy in Poland and the spirits portfolio from Distell in Slovakia and Italy. We now have distribution agreements with premium spirits brand owners in all of our owned markets, with products which complement our own portfolio and importantly expand our offering to consumers in the whisky category.
We have always carefully monitored our cost base and in March we began a thorough review of the cost base of the organisation. As a result, we have identified a number of initiatives and opportunities, including corporate costs and we are announcing the closure of our Swiss office. Related to this closure, we also announce the departure of Ian Croxford, former Chief Operations Officer (COO), with immediate effect. The position of COO will not be replaced. We would like to thank him for the contribution he has made to Stock Spirits over the last nine years; more details are provided later in the finance section. However, the Board are cogniscent that whilst cost control is important, we will manage this without compromising our ability to deliver our longer term strategy.
Although our long-term strategy to seek consoldation opportunities in the CEE region remains, our primary focus is on our performance and turnaround in Poland. We do not plan to undertake any material M&A activity in 2016. In March we announced that we would return cash to shareholders if we did not complete any material M&A by the end of the year. Consequently the Board announced a special dividend in June of £0.10 per ordinary share (€0.119). This, together with the normal dividend payout, will result in the payment of 100% of net free cash flow to shareholders for 2016. Today, we are announcing an interim dividend of €0.0227 per share.
In April, Chris Heath retired as CEO from the Group, and Mirek Stachowicz, an Independent non executive director, assumed Chris’ responsibilities as the Group’s Interim CEO. The Board has today announced Mirek will assume the position of CEO on a permanent basis.
As a Board, we do not perceive any significant issues for Stock Spirits Group with regard to Britain’s exit from the EU, however, we will continue to monitor and report on this position as the consequences of this become clearer.
Total vodka market volumes have continued to show improvement and are in growth by 2.5% in the 6 months to the end of June 2016, versus a decline last year of -3.3% in the same period (source: Nielsen).
The value of the vodka market also increased YTD in value terms by 2.9% (2015:flat). The largest channel for the vodka market remains the traditional trade and this has seen an increase YTD from a decline in volumes in 2015 of -7.7% to 4.5% in 2016, (source: Nielsen).
We have already implemented a number of actions, highlighted by the root and branch review and our progress is set out below:
The key action was the price reduction on a number of core products in order to restore their previous competitive position so as to stimulate top line growth, stabilise and regain market share with particular focus on the traditional trade. We are working with priority trade partners to support our pricing inititiatives. Early signs indicate that we are taking volume share (source: CMR data) from our competitors and stabilising our share of this important channel, demonstrating our strategy is beginning to yield positive results.
At the end of June our volume market share was 25.0% in the overall Polish market and 29.3% in the traditional trade channel (source: Nielsen), which reflects a stabilisation in the last few months.
Across the Group, investment in advertising and promotion spend has been reallocated to provide support for the Polish root & branch initiatives. This has allowed the price reductions in Poland to be absorbed with a small impact to gross margin to date, but EBITDA margin has grown.
We expect the price reductions to have a more marked impact in the second half.
We recently announced that we have reached agreement with Synergy for the distribution of the Beluga vodka brand. This super premium brand complements our existing portfolio and adds strength to our growing portfolio of premium brands.
EBITDA in the first half was €15.1m versus €9.2m last year with an improved margin of 24.8% against 17.4% last year.
We have seen growth in value on an MAT basis in our focus categories of herbal bitters and local rum (including our Bozkov brand) and clear vodka has been been maintained versus prior years. A change of strategy on the Bozkov brand, (offering a wider mix of variants which increase choice and price range for the consumer), has helped grow our MAT value share from 55.3% to 55.7% (source: Nielsen).
Our investment in new products and increased spend on advertising in the last 2 years has driven strong performance in herbal bitters , where we have grown volume share in this important category from 47.3% June last year to 50.2% in June this year on an MAT basis (source: Nielsen).
In the Czech Republic as in Poland, we have focused on embedding and growing the new products we launched in 2015. We have added an extension to the leading Bozkov range early in the first quarter and launched the premium Amundsen Expedition vodka following the launch in Poland last year.
In February Jan Havlis joined as Managing Director for the Czech Republic, completing the management team. Jan has already restructured the commercial team and implemented a number of changes which will deliver some modest savings in 2017.
Whilst net sales revenue has remained flat, our results in the first half of the year show a growth in EBITDA from €6.7m in 2015 to €7.8m this year, and margin improvement from 24.0% to 28.1%.
In a continuing difficult market we have managed to hold volume and value market share. Following a number of challenging years for the brandy category, resulting from raw material price increases compounded by the recent and numerous duty increases, the changes we made last year to our pricing and promotional plans, we have recorded value share gains in brandy. However, with a softening of the market, flavoured vodka is now facing sharp decline as a category. We have a significant share in this category so the impact is more noticeable for us. We have already implemented a number of changes and will monitor progress.
In line with our stated strategy we have extended the Italian portfolio, particularly in the premium segment, through the launch of Amundsen Expedition vodka and the signing of a new distribution contract to distribute the spirits portfolio for Distell. The Distell portfolio exends our offering into the important whisky category.
We have recently retendered our logistics service provider in this market and the result will be some savings commencing in 2017, which will not be material
Stock Italy has recorded growth in EBITDA from €2.8m to €2.9m compared to the same period last year, with margin improving from 18.9% last year to 21.5% this year.
Performance in our other markets which include Slovakia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia together with our export operations, was in line with our expectations. The continuing success of our new products launched in 2015 has resulted in strong growth in Slovakia. We have further extended our portfolio there with the agreement to distribute the Distell spirits range. As with Italy, this agreement provides us with access to the whisky category.
In Slovakia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia we have also launched Amundsen Expedition.
EBITDA for the period was €1.5m, versus €0.9m in 2015, with an improved EBITDA margin of 10.9% versus 6.8% last year.
The results for H1 2016 have shown significant improvement against very weak financial results for the first half of last year and are in line with our expectations.
We have recorded growth in net sales revenue reflecting improved volume performance; despite net selling price per case slightly declining reflecting the price reductions implemented in Poland on a number of core products.
Cost of goods has remained largely flat which has resulted in a marginal decrease in gross margin by 50 basis points. Whilst the price reduction implemented in Poland has had a limited impact to margins in H1, there will be more of a marked impact in H2.
The Group has reallocated advertising and promotional spend between markets to provide support for the Polish initiatives, which combined with more limited NPD in 2016 has not been at the expense of supporting brand equity, which has continued.
The Group has continued to review the corporate structure and overheads and implemented a number of cost saving initiatives. Some savings have already been generated and these are reflected in the results. As part of this review we have decided to close the Swiss operation (which forms part of our reported corporate overheads), with the departure of the COO, Ian Croxford, as mentioned above. We expect the restructuring costs to be in the range of €0.8m to €1.3m in 2016, and will generate savings of circa €1.5m from the start of 2017.
Operating profit before exceptional items is €12.5m versus €5.2m last year, which is an improvement of over 100%, and adjusted EBITDA was €17.9m versus €10.8m for 2015.
In line with expectations the Group has not recorded any exceptional costs in H1.
Underlying finance costs before foreign exchange movements, of €1.3m (2015: €4.1m) have significantly benefited from the refinancing of the Group last year and the move to a fully flexible revolving credit facility with reduced margins. A foreign currency gain of €1.5m was recognised and driven by exchange movements on inter company loans, are recorded in line with IFRS reporting requirements. The inter company loans which have generated this impact have now been fully settled and we do not expect such movements to recur.
In the first half of the year we have incurred slightly higher levels of capital spend (compared with last year) due to investment in flexible packaging capability in Poland. We do not expect full year capital spend to be materially different from prior years. We have also paid out the final dividend declared for 2015, resulting in closing net debt at the end of June of €58.0m, giving the Group a leverage ratio of 0.96X, which is both lower than the same period last year and the year end.
Foreign exchange movements did not have a material impact upon the translation of Group operating profits. There has however been recorded a €8.1m movement in balance sheet reserves due to the impact of foreign exhange differences on the translation from the functional currencies of the Groups foreign subsidiary into Euros
Basic earnings per share are reported as €0.04 for H1 versus €0.00 for 2015.
The Group remains focused upon cash generation and has reported an adjusted free cash flow of €15.9m in the first half.
Given the strength of the Group’s cash flow, low leverage and the decision not to undertake any material acqusitions during 2016, the Board announced a special dividend of £0.10 per share in June (€0.119). As announced in June, together with our stated dividend policy, the Board expect to return 100% of net free cash flow to shareholders in 2016. The special dividend was paid on 27th July 2016.
The Board of Directors have agreed an interim dividend payment of €0.0227 per share to be paid in £. The dividend will be paid on 23rd September 2016, with record date 2nd September 2016 (shareholders on the register at close of business on 1st September 2016). The Euro : Sterling exchange rate will be fixed on the record date. The shares will be quoted ex-dividend on 1st September 2016.
After making enquiries, the Directors have a reasonable expectation that the Company and its subsidiaries have adequate resources to continue in operational existence for at least the next 12 months. For this reason, they continue to adopt the going concern basis in preparing the consolidated financial information of the Group.
Principal Risks and uncertainties
The Board considers the key risks for the Group remain as:
Further detail on the principal risks and uncertainties affecting the business activities of the Group are set out on pages 48 to 51 in the Stock Spirits Group Annual Report 2015, a copy of which is available on the Company’s website at www.stockspirits.com. In the view of the Board there is no material change in these risks in respect of the remaining six months of the year
Responsibility statement of the directors in respect of the half-yearly financial report
We confirm to the best of our knowledge:
The condensed set of financial statements has been prepared in accordance with IAS 34 Interim Financial Reporting as adopted by the EU
The interim management report includes a fair review of the information required by:
Board of Directors
Alberto Da Ponte and Randy Pankevicz were appointed to the Board as non-executive directors at the AGM in May.
The Board of Directors as at 10th August 2016 is as follows: David Maloney (Chairman), Mirek Stachowicz (Chief Executive Officer), Lesley Jackson (Chief Financial Officer), Andrew Cripps (Senior Independent Non-Executive Director), John Nicolson (Independent Non-Executive Director), Randy Pankevicz (Non-Independent Non Executive Director) and Alberto Da Ponte (Non-Independent Non Executive Director).
For and on behalf of the Board of Directors:
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