Our 2017 performance
Massmart delivered good results despite a challenging South African consumer environment in 2017. The Group’s performance was impacted by very weak consumer confidence that resulted in low consumer demand for Durable goods (being the General Merchandise and Home Improvement categories); significant deflation in most major commodities in the wholesale businesses; and the impact of generally weaker African economies and currencies.
To allow for useful comparison with the prior year’s 52-weeks, and unless otherwise stated, the commentary below reflects Massmart’s performance for the current and prior year 52-week periods.
The information for the 52-week comparable period has been restated for an error in the accounting for rebates and the capitalisation of some costs to inventory. In addition, an incorrect classification of unrealised foreign exchange movements in the 2016 cash flow statement has been corrected. Refer to note 43 of the Group Annual Financial Statements for more detail on the restatement.
Massmart’s total sales for the 52 weeks ended December 2017 increased by 1.0% and comparable store sales declined by 0.8%. As can be expected in this challenging environment Food & Liquor sales were better than those of Durable goods.
Year-to-date product inflation reduced from 6.7% in December 2016 to 2.0% at December 2017. Inflation in Food & Liquor and Home Improvement reduced slightly to 4.0% and 3.5% respectively, while General Merchandise went further into deflation of 2.5%.
Our ex-SA businesses represent 8.3% (2016: 8.7%) of total sales and decreased by 4.8% in Rands (a 3.5% increase in constant currencies^). Comparable sales in Rands declined by 7.0%.
^ Refer to the footnote here.
The Group’s 52-week gross margin of 18.8% is slightly lower than that of the prior year of 19.0%, mostly driven by a decline in the participation of higher-margin Durable categories and margin pressure from commodity deflation.
Other income increased by 8.3% to R234.9 million, mainly due to the increase in dividends received from our unlisted investments (cell captives). Included in other income are dividends from unlisted investments, financial services’ income, fair value adjustment on the cell captives and insurance proceeds on non-property, plant and equipment (PP&E) items.
Expenses were tightly controlled, increasing by only 1.2% over the prior year. Excellent expense management resulted in comparable expenses declining by 1.3%. Expenses as a percentage of sales were 16.4% (2016: 16.3%). Depreciation and amortisation increased by 5.7%, largely driven by a higher proportion of IT assets included in our capital expenditure. Employment costs, the Group’s biggest cost category, increased by 0.5% (with a comparable decrease of 2.7%), due to a combination of better staff-scheduling in stores and DCs, and a selective replacement of vacancies which resulted in full-time equivalent employees remaining stable at just over 48,000. Despite the opening of 11 new stores and a meat plant, favourable lease renewals resulted in occupancy cost increases being limited to 1.3%. Other operating expenses increased by 1.4%. The non-capital costs of upgrading our IT infrastructure, as well as repairs and maintenance, are included in this expense category.
Foreign exchange loss
Included in operating profit are net realised and unrealised foreign exchange losses of R39.9 million (2016: loss of R141.8 million). Foreign exchange losses for the 53-week period were R47.2 million, caused by strengthening of the Rand in the last fortnight of 2017. We continue to actively manage our foreign-denominated monetary balances and have taken out foreign exchange contracts on selected exposures. All foreign-denominated inventory orders are automatically covered forward.
Net finance costs
Net finance costs have declined to R548.7 million (2016: R571.9 million), mainly due to lower borrowing levels as we generated positive cash inflows from our improved net working capital position.
The Group’s effective tax rate of 29.9% is in line with expectations (2016: 30.8%).
|53 weeks||52 weeks|
|December 2017||December 2016|
|Standard tax rate||28.0||28.0|
|Non-taxable income and disallowable expenses||0.8||2.9|
|Assessed loss not utilised||3.2||2.7|
|Other – including foreign tax adjustments||(2.1)||(2.8)|
|Group tax rate||29.9||30.8|
Divisional operational review
|53 weeks||52 weeks||52 weeks||52 weeks|
|2017||% of||53rd week||2017||% of||2016||% of||53 weeks||52 weeks||% sales||sales %|
|Rm||(Audited)||sales||(Pro forma)||(Pro forma)||sales||(Audited)||sales||% growth||% growth||growth||inflation|
|To make comparisons with the prior financial year meaningful, all current year income statement figures in this announcement are given as 52-week and 53-week results, and certain comparisons are based on the 52-week results.|
|* Certain comparative figures shown do not correspond with the 2016 financial statements and reflect adjustments made. Refer to note 43 in the Group Annual Financial Statements.|
|**The ‘Trading profit before interest and tax’ above is the amount per the condensed consolidated income statement less the BBBEE transaction IFRS 2 charge.|
Massdiscounters saw year-to-date product deflation of 2.5% in December 2017 (2016: inflation of 4.8%), while total sales decreased by 2.8% and comparable sales were down 4.2%. For the 52-week period Game’s South African stores total sales decreased by 1.9%, while comparable sales were down 2.9%. Game Africa’s total sales in constant currencies^ increased by 10.5%, but declined by 4.1% in Rands due to currency weakness, particularly in Mozambique and Nigeria.
The Division aggressively managed expenses, which in total were lower than the prior period, and reduced its inventory value below that for December 2016. Both of these position the business to benefit strongly from any future positive sales momentum. Despite the great expense management, the sales pressure was such that, for the 52-weeks, Massdiscounters’ trading profit before interest and tax decreased by 4.4% to R373.5 million.
^ Refer to the footnote here.
Masswarehouse benefited from the Division’s defensive product mix as total sales of R27.3 billion increased by 4.0% and comparable sales grew by 2.4%. As seen in Massdiscounters, product inflation declined from 6.5% in December 2016 to 2.3% in December 2017. Total sales growth in Food & Liquor was 5.9%, a good performance given the consumer environment and despite continued deflation in commodities, while General Merchandise sales growth, which was impacted by deflation and lower discretionary spending, was 0.1%.
A focus on inventory resulted in inventory days remaining flat. For the 52-week period, trading profit before interest and tax increased by 0.2% to R1,3 billion.
Massbuild delivered the best performance in the South African DIY and Home Improvement sector. It grew total sales for the year by 2.4%, to R13.0 billion with comparable sales increasing by 1.6% and product inflation of 3.7% (2016: 4.7%). Total sales growth in our ex-SA stores was 0.5% in constant currencies^ but down 7.1% in Rands. Our two stores in Mozambique continue to be affected by the economic challenges in that country.
Good expense management saw expense growth of only 2.6%. Massbuild was able to reduce its inventory level by eight days compared to the same period last year.
For the 52 weeks, trading profit before interest and tax of R735.5 million grew by 2.8%.
Masscash was exposed to severe commodity deflation, with monthly product inflation falling from 9.3% in December 2016 to 3.9% in December 2017. As a result, total sales of R31.9 billion increased by 0.4%, while comparable sales decreased by 2.3%. Commodities represent 16.0% of our Wholesale sales and, excluding this category, the remaining business grew sales by 1.5%. Cambridge and Rhino performed well in this difficult consumer environment, growing total sales.
Effective cost control and a much stronger trading performance in the second half were insufficient to make up for the very weak first half performance.
For the 52 weeks the trading profit before interest and tax declined by 54.1%, improving from a decline of more than 90% in the six months to June 2017.
In September 2017, the Retail and Wholesale executive teams were combined into a single smaller executive team under the leadership of Kevin Vyvyan-Day, and the new combined executive is balanced and stronger.
Over the past few years, investment spending has been focused on new IT infrastructure, store openings, and the refurbishment of existing stores. The net book value of property, plant and equipment increased by 8.8% over the prior year. Goodwill and other intangible assets increased by 7.0%, largely as a result of expenditure on IT.
Expansionary expenditure was R1.1 billion and included the rebuild of the Jumbo Crown Mines store, the new Makro Riversands store, the Massfresh meat plant and investments in IT systems. Replacement expenditure was R0.7 billion and included store refurbishments.
Working capital management
Operating cash before working capital movements amounted to R4.0 billion, 7.1% higher than the prior year. Cash flow from working capital movements was a positive R705.8 million compared to a negative R279.0 million in 2016. Improved management saw our inventory balance decrease by 2.0% compared to December 2016, with inventory days reducing by one day to 54 days, despite 11 new store openings. Trade receivables increased marginally and debtors’ days remained steady at nine days. Creditors’ days increased to 74 days (2016: 69 days).
Capital management including bank overdrafts
Interest-bearing borrowings (including bank overdrafts) decreased by R605 million due to the repayment of some maturing medium-term debt in the current year.
The Group’s gearing ratio (debt:equity) decreased to 48.7% (2016: 47.1%) at the end of the current year. Return on average shareholders equity for the year improved to 24.8% (2016: 24.1%).
Headline earnings and headline EPS increased by 1.6% and 2.1% respectively over the prior year. For the 53-week period, headline earnings and headline EPS increased by 14.0% and 14.6% respectively.
Massmart’s current dividend policy is to declare and pay an interim and final cash dividend representing a 2.0 times dividend cover unless circumstances dictate otherwise. A gross final cash dividend of 271.0 cents per share (December 2016: 224.80), in respect of the year ended December 2017 was declared out of income reserves as defined in the Income Tax Act, 1962, and will be subject to the South African dividend withholding tax (DWT) rate of 20%. This was distributed to shareholders registered in the books of the Company on 19 March 2018.
IFRS 15 ‘Revenue from contracts with customers’ and IFRS 9 ‘Financial Instruments’, came into effect on 1 January 2018. Massmart has adopted the modified retrospective approach for the new standards, which implies that the numbers in the comparative period will not be restated in future results releases.
IFRS 15 has an impact of approximately 5% on previously reported sales, as amongst others, the sales data for the Jumbo Shield buying group (within Masscash) will no longer be included in sales on a gross basis. Jumbo Shield will be accounted for on an agency basis, reflecting only its earned commission in Massmart’s results. Had Jumbo Shield been treated under IFRS 15, total pro forma sales for Massmart would have been R89.3 billion in 2017.
IFRS 9 has an immaterial impact on the Group’s financial results, with the only impact being on the timing and recognition of the impairment of debtors.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the finance teams across the Group, both at the Divisions and the corporate office, for their dedication, commitment and support during a particularly challenging year. Their hard work has enabled us to deliver quality financial results to our stakeholders.
This year our finance team continued to grow, we welcomed new talent to the team and were delighted with the internal promotions we made. Our processes and controls have been streamlined through the application of new technology, and consequently we are better able to more innovatively serve the business. I am proud and privileged to have the opportunity to work with such an excellent team.
Johannes van Lierop
Chief Financial Officer
29 March 2018