Nichols PLC

Preliminary Results

RNS Number : 1840C
Nichols PLC
13 March 2014
 



 

Date:

Embargoed until 0700 Thursday 13th March 2014

 

Contacts:

John Nichols, Non-Executive Chairman

Marnie Millard, Group Chief Executive

Tim Croston, Group Finance Director

Nichols plc

Telephone:  01925 222222

Website:www.nicholsplc.co.uk

 

 

Alex Brennan

Richard Lindley

Hudson Sandler

N+1 Singer (Nominated Adviser)

Telephone:020 7796 4133

Telephone:  0113 388 4855/ 0207 496 3000

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.n1singer.com

 

 

Nichols plc

PRELIMINARY RESULTS

 

Nichols plc, the soft drinks Group, announces its Preliminary results for the year ended 31 December 2013.

 

Nichols plc is a highly focused soft drinks business.  Its brand portfolio includes Vimto, which is sold in over 65 countries and Levi Roots (soft drinks), Sunkist, Panda and Weight Watchers which are sold in the UK.  The Group has a leading market position in both the "Still" and "Carbonate" drinks categories.

 

 

Highlights:

      ·     Group sales up 2% to £109.9m (2012: £107.8m) with continued growth in the UK and internationally

      ·     Operating profit margin increased to 20% (2012: 19%)

      ·     Profit before tax (pre-exceptional items) up 10% to £22.5m (2012: £20.5m)

      ·     Earnings per share (pre-exceptional items) up 11% to 45.8p (2012: 41.4p)

      ·     Continuing strong cash generation with net cash at the year end up 39% to £34.3m (2012: £24.7m)

      ·     Proposed final dividend of 13.3p (2012: 11.7p), taking total dividend for the year up 13% to 19.62p        (2012: 17.32p)

 

 

Commenting John Nichols, Non-Executive Chairman, said:

"I am pleased to report another excellent year for Nichols. We have successfully delivered on our strategy to increase our profitability and, pre exceptional items, we have delivered double digit growth to both profit before tax and earnings per share. The business continues to be highly cash generative and we propose a final dividend of 13.3p, taking the total dividend for the year up 13% to 19.62p (2012: 17.32p), reflecting the Board's confidence in the outlook for the Group."

 

  

 

Chairman's Statement

 

I am pleased to report another excellent performance for Nichols plc. During 2013, the Group has successfully increased profit margin, delivered double digit profit growth (pre exceptional items) and maintained its strong cash generation.

 

Group sales totalled £109.9m, 2% ahead of the prior year.  During the second half of 2013 our sales performance started to gain momentum and showed a 4% increase over the same period in 2012. 

 

As previously reported, during 2013 we successfully delivered our strategy to improve profitability by focusing on value over volume. As a result our operating profit margin (pre exceptional items) increased to 20% (2012: 19%) and our profit before tax (pre exceptional items) increased by 10% to £22.5m (2012: £20.5m). Once again, the balance sheet remains strong with our year-end cash balance totalling £34.3m (2012: £24.7m).       

 

 

Results (Pre-exceptional items)

 

 

Year ended

31 Dec 2013

Year ended

31 Dec 2012

% movement

 

£m

£m

 

 

 

 

 

Group Revenue

109.9

107.8

+2%

Operating Profit

22.4

20.5

+9%

Operating Profit R.O.S.

20%

19%

 

Profit Before Tax

22.5

20.5

+10%

Net Cash

34.3

24.7

+39%

 

 

 

 

EPS (basic)

45.8p

41.4p

+11%

 

 

Trading

 

Our UK sales gained momentum in the second half of 2013, increasing by 5% year on year taking the full year total to £86.8m, 2% ahead of the prior year. During 2013 we have also successfully delivered our strategy to improve profitability with both revenue per case and margin showing good improvement compared to 2012.

   

We have successfully grown our market share of the Still category delivering an increase in sales of Vimto cordial of 11%. We continued with our planned reduction in promotional activity in the heavily discounted Carbonate sector where our sales declined by 6%.

 

Within our international business we saw continued growth in our African markets and coupled with a stronger second half year (versus 2012) in the Middle East, full year sales were £23.1m, which is 2% ahead of the prior year.       

 

 

Exceptional items

 

The Consolidated Income statement for 2013 includes the following one-off exceptional costs totalling £3.7m:

 

·    The implementation of a planned management restructuring, which was completed by the year end, incurring one-off costs of £1.7m.

·    A provision of £2.0m to cover the potential costs of a litigation claim from a licensee in Pakistan. The claim, which the company is defending, centres on the licensee's rights to manufacture and distribute Vimto cordial in Pakistan.

 

 

Dividend

 

Reflecting our strong balance sheet and the Board's continued confidence in the outlook, I am pleased to announce that we are recommending a final dividend of 13.3 pence per share (2012: 11.7 pence). This takes the total 2013 dividend to 19.62 pence (2012: 17.32 pence), a year on year increase of 13%.

 

 

Outlook

 

Although economic indicators suggest signs of optimism, there is evidence that consumer spending in the UK remains cautious and we expect the UK retail market to remain challenging in 2014. Despite this environment we are confident that the Group can maintain its strong performance into 2014. We will continue to invest in our brands and grow distribution in both our UK and international markets. January saw the launch of the "Vimto Squeezy" product which takes the brand into the new 'water enhancer' category and in April consumers will see the new Vimto TV campaign.

 

In summary, the Board is confident that the Group is well positioned to maintain its strong performance into 2014 and beyond.

 

 

 

John Nichols

Non-Executive Chairman

12 March 2014

 

 

 

  

 

 

Chief Executive's Report 2014

 

I am delighted to share my first report since taking the role of Chief Executive in May 2013.

 

Nichols plc is an international business with a portfolio of well established brands, selling to over 65 countries worldwide.  We have leading market positions in both the Still and Carbonate drinks categories and we continually look to bring new and innovative products to the soft drinks consumer, both in our home and overseas markets.

 

 

The UK Soft Drinks Market

 

The total value of the UK soft drinks market excluding the "on trade" channel, as measured by Nielsen grew by 4% to £7.5bn (52 weeks data to 4 Jan 2014).  The Carbonate sector remained very competitive during the year, with a heavy reliance by many brands on promotional mechanics to drive volume.   Despite the Group's strategy to decrease our promotional participation in the Carbonates category, we still outperformed the market with our core brand Vimto which successfully grew by 4.3%.

 

The trend of market growth in the convenience channel and online can be seen not only in our home market but also in our international markets.  Our promotional activity, packaging and product development continues to be targeted towards these trends.

 

 

Group Financial Performance

 

Despite ongoing economic challenges globally we are pleased to have grown sales by a modest 2%.  This was in line with our expectations given the lower promotional participation in the UK Carbonates sector.  Therefore, the improvement we have delivered to our gross margin has been particularly satisfying and has contributed to the strong profit delivery.

 

In summary in 2013 we achieved:

 

      ·     2%  total sales growth

      ·     10% profit before tax growth (pre exceptional items)

      ·     11% earnings per share growth (pre exceptional items)

      ·     13% full year dividend growth.

Cash conversion remained strong in 2013 and as a result we finished the year with £34.3m cash in the bank.

 

We continue to invest in our core brands in both the UK and international markets.  Vimto returned to UK television in 2013 with the final instalment of our highly successful "bounce 'n' boom" advertising campaign.  This was supported by a fully integrated digital marketing campaign.  Digital and social media platforms continue to be a highly compelling and effective way of engaging our consumers with our brands.

 

 

Trading Highlights

 

In 2013 the UK enjoyed a short spell of good weather not seen since 2006.  I am pleased to report our service levels were exemplary and, as a result, we benefited during that brief period with a sales uplift in excess of 20%.

 

 

We continue to invest in our portfolio of brands outside of Vimto, most notably our Levi Roots soft drinks range.  We successfully launched a new variant, coconut and lime, which really captured the consumers' imagination during the summer months. This new flavour was complemented by a new "Zero" range, in order to appeal to the health conscious consumer.

 

2013 also saw the addition of the Extreme Sports and Energy brand to our portfolio.  The energy sector remains the fastest growing category in soft drinks at 7% per annum.  We have sought to differentiate ourselves in this competitive category by launching the product in an eye catching black PET bottle that appeals to our target audience of 18 - 24 year old males who are interested in extreme sports events. 

 

Progress continues to be made in our Nichols Dispense business, with consolidation of our independent distributor base. This also involved the full integration of Festival Soft Drinks Limited, based on the south coast of England, into Nichols Dispense during 2013.

 

Internationally, we continued to develop and grow in Africa, with sales increasing by 21% in the year.  Our Middle Eastern business remains stable as Vimto benefits from the joint venture between our long standing partner Aujan Industries and Coca Cola.  At the end of the year we signed new contracts for Nepal and Myanmar, both of which are due to come on line during 2014.

 

We successfully implemented a new distribution model in the USA, whereby production is now undertaken by a local co-packer and sold to our nominated distributor.  This model not only ensures we achieve the most cost effective route to market but, more importantly, provides a strong base upon which to develop Vimto in the US market.

 

 

Corporate Responsibility

 

Corporate Responsibility issues within our sector have never been more prevalent, particularly around the issue of obesity.  Through our membership of the British Soft Drinks Association we have made a commitment to the Government's Public Health Responsibility Deal and we are actively participating in the Calorie Reduction Pledge.  Using 2011 as the base year, to date we have made the following progress:

 

      ·     Average calories per 100ml of Ready to Drink products sold is down by 18%

      ·     The proportion of our no added sugar sales has increased from 19% to 26%

      ·     Our total use of sugar has reduced by 20%

We will continue to provide our consumers with choice and transparency in their product selection and further development in this area will be evident in 2014. 

 

 

Community

 

We continue to provide support to charities in our local area, supported by our colleagues and business partners throughout the year.  In 2014 we will work with Warrington Youth Club.  Established in 1952, it has a growing membership of around 2,000 people.  Its ethos is inspiring young people to achieve their potential, with the guiding values of learning, choice, participation and diversity. 

Employees

 

Nichols plc is a business built upon a solid foundation of strong professional people.  We pride ourselves upon our excellent relationships with both our customers and our supplier partnerships. 

 

There have been a number of changes in the leadership team in 2013 which have ensured that a highly motivated and passionate group of people are working together to continue to grow and develop our overall business.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their continued effort and commitment.

 

 

Marnie Millard

Group Chief Executive

12 March 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidated income statement

Year ended 31 December 2013

 

 

Before exceptional items

Exceptional items

 

Total

 

 

Total

 

 

2013

2013

2013

2012

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

Revenue

109,881

0

109,881

107,788

Cost of sales

 

(57,430)

0

(57,430)

(59,661)

 

 

 

 

 

Gross profit

 

52,451

0

52,451

48,127

Distribution expenses

(6,063)

0

(6,063)

(6,569)

Administrative expenses

(23,961)

(3,680)

(27,641)

(21,041)

 

 

 

 

 

Operating profit

22,427

(3,680)

18,747

20,517

Finance income

347

0

347

324

Finance expense

(264)

0

(264)

(331)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Profit before taxation

 

22,510

 

(3,680)

 

18,830

 

20,510

 

 

 

 

 

Taxation

 

(5,645)

924

(4,721)

(5,252)

 

 

 

 

 

Profit for the financial year attributable to equity holders of the parent

16,865

(2,756)

14,109

15,258

 

 

 

 

 

Earnings per share (basic)

 

 

38.30p

41.43p

Earnings per share (diluted)

 

 

38.25p

41.38p

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Consolidated statement of comprehensive income

Year ended 31 December 2013

 

 

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

£'000

 

 

£'000

Profit for the financial year

 

 

14,109

 

 

15,258

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other comprehensive income/(expense)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defined benefit plan actuarial gain/(loss)

 

 

1,909

 

 

(773)

Deferred taxation on pension obligations and employee benefits

 

 

(308)

 

 

78

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other comprehensive income/(expense) for the year

 

 

1,601

 

 

(695)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total comprehensive income for the year

 

 

15,710

 

 

14,563


 

Statement of financial position

Year ended 31 December 2013

 

 

 

         Group

 

        Parent

 

 

2013

2012

 

2013

2012

ASSETS

 

£'000

£'000

 

£'000

£'000

Non-current assets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Property, plant and equipment

 

1,295

1,275

 

355

398

Goodwill

 

16,057

15,973

 

0

0

Investments

 

0

0

 

16,566

16,566

Deferred tax assets

 

1,321

2,148

 

1,321

2,082

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total non-current assets

 

18,673

19,396

 

18,242

19,046

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current assets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inventories

 

4,144

5,331

 

2,182

2,769

Trade and other receivables

 

22,721

23,741

 

20,565

20,446

Cash and cash equivalents

 

34,293

24,745

 

30,964

21,948

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total current assets

 

61,158

53,817

 

53,711

45,163

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total assets

 

79,831

73,213

 

71,953

64,209

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIABILITIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current liabilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trade and other payables

 

18,152

19,377

 

25,125

20,427

Current tax liabilities

 

1,675

2,191

 

803

1,368

Provisions

 

2,018

47

 

0

47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total current liabilities

 

21,845

21,615

 

25,928

21,842

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-current liabilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pension obligations

 

4,047

6,556

 

4,047

6,556

Deferred tax liabilities

 

0

47

 

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total non-current liabilities

 

4,047

6,603

 

4,047

6,556

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total liabilities

 

25,892

28,218

 

29,975

28,398

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net assets

 

53,939

44,995

 

41,978

35,811

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EQUITY

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share capital

 

3,697

3,697

 

3,697

3,697

Share premium reserve

 

3,255

3,255

 

3,255

3,255

Capital redemption reserve

 

1,209

1,209

 

1,209

1,209

Other reserves

 

(598)

(474)

 

177

301

Retained earnings

 

46,376

37,308

 

33,640

27,349

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total equity

 

53,939

44,995

 

41,978

35,811

 

 

Consolidated statement of cash flows

Year ended 31 December 2013                                            

 

2013

2013

2012

2012

      

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Profit for the financial year

 

14,109

 

15,258

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash flows from operating activities

 

 

 

 

 

Adjustments for:

 

 

 

 

 

Depreciation

513

 

460

 

 

Loss on sale of property, plant and equipment

11

 

2

 

 

Finance income

(347)

 

(324)

 

 

Tax expense recognised in the income statement

4,721

 

5,252

 

 

Change in inventories

1,103

 

611

 

 

Change in trade and other receivables

1,050

 

(2,297)

 

 

Change in trade and other payables

(1,224)

 

(1,071)

 

 

Change in provisions

1,971

 

(92)

 

 

Change in pension obligations

(600)

 

(530)

 

 

 

 

7,198

 

2,011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash generated from operating activities

 

21,307

 

17,269

 

Tax paid

 

(4,765)

 

(4,545)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash generated from operating activities

 

16,542

 

12,724

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash flows from investing activities

 

 

 

 

 

Finance income

316

 

324

 

 

Proceeds from sale of property, plant and equipment

148

 

7

 

 

Acquisition of property, plant and equipment

(692)

 

(297)

 

 

Acquisition of subsidiary, net of cash acquired

0

 

(2,254)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash used in investing activities

 

(228)

 

(2,220)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash flows from financing activities

 

 

 

 

 

Acquisition of own shares

(127)

 

(4)

 

 

Dividends paid

(6,639)

 

(5,866)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash used in financing activities

 

(6,766)

 

(5,870)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net increase in cash and cash equivalents

 

9,548

 

4,634

 

Cash and cash equivalents at 1 January

 

24,745

 

20,111

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents at 31 December

 

34,293

 

24,745

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidated statement of changes in equity

Year ended 31 December 2013

 

 

Called up share capital

£'000

Share premium reserve

£'000

Capital redemption reserve

£'000

Other reserves

 

£'000

Retained earnings

 

£'000

Total Equity

 

£'000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1 January 2012

3,697

3,255

1,209

(546)

28,687

36,302

Dividends

0

0

0

0

(5,866)

(5,866)

Movement in ESOT

0

0

0

72

(76)

(4)

Transactions with owners

0

0

0

72

(5,942)

(5,870)

Profit for the year

0

0

0

0

15,258

15,258

Other comprehensive expense

0

0

0

0

(695)

(695)

Total comprehensive income

0

0

0

0

14,563

14,563

At 1 January 2013

3,697

3,255

1,209

(474)

37,308

44,995

Dividends

0

0

0

0

(6,639)

(6,639)

Movement in ESOT

0

0

0

(124)

(3)

(127)

Transactions with owners

0

0

0

(124)

(6,642)

(6,766)

Profit for the year

0

0

0

0

14,109

14,109

Other comprehensive expense

0

0

0

0

1,601

1,601

Total comprehensive income

0

0

0

0

15,710

15,710

At 31 December 2013

3,697

3,255

1,209

(598)

46,376

53,939

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Nichols plc

NOTES TO THE PRELIMINARY FINANCIAL INFORMATION

 

Basis of Preparation

The preliminary financial information does not constitute statutory accounts for the financial years ended 31 December 2013 and 31 December 2012, but has been derived from those accounts. The accounting policies used in preparation of this preliminary announcement have remained unchanged from those set out in the 2012 annual report, with the exception of the adoption of IAS 19 (revised).  They are also consistent with those in the full financial statements which have yet to be published. Under IAS 19 revised, interest cost and expected return on plan assets have been replaced with a finance cost component which is determined by applying the same discount rate used to measure the defined benefit obligation to the net defined benefit liability or asset. This is a presentational change only, and therefore has no impact on the Group consolidated results. Statutory accounts for 2012 have been delivered to the Registrar of Companies and those for the financial year ended 31 December 2013 will be delivered following the Company's annual general meeting.  The auditors have reported on those accounts and their reports were unqualified and did not contain statements under section 498(2) or (3) of the Companies Act 2006.

 

Earnings per Share

The calculation of basic earnings per share is based on earnings attributable to ordinary shareholders divided by the weighted average number of shares in issue during the year.  Shares held in the Employee Share Ownership Trust and Employee Benefit Trust are treated as cancelled for the purposes of this calculation.

 

The calculation of diluted earnings per share is based on the basic earnings per share adjusted to allow for the assumed conversion of all dilutive options.

 

Basic earnings per share is 38.30 pence (2012: 41.43 pence).

Basic earnings per share (pre exceptional items) is 45.79 pence (2012: 41.43 pence).

 

Segmental Information

The Executive Committee analyses the Group's internal reports to enable an assessment of performance and allocation of resources. The operating segments are based on these reports.

 

The Executive Committee reviews the Group based on the operating segments identified below. Gross profit is the measure used to assess the performance of each operating segment.

 

 

Revenue
(sales to third parties)

Gross Profit

 

 

2013
£'000

2012
£'000

2013
£'000

2012
£'000

Still

55,420

54,516

30,916

28,036

Carbonate

54,461

53,272

21,535

20,091

Total

109,881

107,788

52,451

48,127

 

There are no sales between the two operating segments, and all revenue is earned from external customers.

 

The operating segments gross profit is reconciled to profit before taxation as per the consolidated income statement.

 

The Group's assets are managed centrally by the Management Committee and consequently there is no reconciliation between the Group's assets per the statement of financial position and the segment assets.

 

 

 

2013
£'000

2012
£'000

Capital Expenditure

692

297

Depreciation

513

460

 

Exceptional items

 

The Consolidated Income statement for 2013 includes the following one-off exceptional costs totalling £3.7m:

 

·     The implementation of a planned management restructuring, which was completed by the year end, incurring one-off costs of £1.7m.

·     A provision of £2.0m to cover the potential costs of a litigation claim from a licensee in Pakistan. The claim, which the company is defending, centres on the licensee's rights to manufacture and distribute Vimto cordial in Pakistan.

 

 

Annual Report

The annual report will be mailed to shareholders and made available on our website on or around 24 March 2014.  Copies will be available after that date from:  The Secretary, Nichols plc, Laurel House, Woodlands Park, Ashton Road, Newton le Willows, WA12 0HH.

 

Annual General Meeting

The annual general meeting will be held at the Registered Office, Laurel House, Woodlands Park, Ashton Road, Newton le Willows, WA12 0HH on 30 April 2014 at 11.00am.

 

Copies of the announcement can be found on the Investors Relations section of the company's website: www.nicholsplc.co.uk.

 

 

 


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