|Dividend of 80% declared for the year ended
March 31, 2001
Record run at Millers with attributable profit peaking to Rs. 123.8 million
Millers Limited, a member of the Ceylon Theatres group, has posted its best-ever attributable profit of Rs. 123.8 million during the year ended March 31, 2001, up 68% from Rs. 73.6 million a year earlier on the back of a 24% turnover growth to Rs. 3.8 billion.
This well known department store company now concentrates on its core activity of a countrywide distribution operation through an extensive network of nominated wholesalers, wholesale dealers and retailers.
Millers which has a very modest issued capital of Rs. 31.8 million despite shareholders funds totalling Rs. 570 million has declared an 80% dividend for the year, up from 44% a year earlier with earnings per share growing to Rs. 31.80 from the previous years Rs. 18.94. Net assets per share were Rs. 176.92.
The company which has a controlling stake of Cargills (Ceylon) Limited holds distribution/agency rights in Sri Lanka for several well known product lines including Kodak, Kraft, Bonlac, Tang, Toblerone and Dairy Farms with Kodak and Kraft leading the portfolio.
The companys Chairman, Mr. Anthony A. Page, has reported to shareholders that given the difficult economic conditions that prevailed in the country, Millers and its subsidiaries had performed commendably in comparison to most other similar businesses.
He said that their strategic decision during the year under review to hand over their retail operations to Cargills and channel all the companys resources on the distribution of fast-moving consumer goods had impacted positively on maximizing resource utilization and optimization.
"Whilst substantial increases in volume growth and market share have been recorded in respect of all key products during the year, a new distribution channel has also been set up with the objective of further expanding our product range and intensifying our market coverage," he said.
Page said that Cargills too had focused on growth and profitability during the year and the success of these strategies was evidenced by the company recording its best-ever performance to date.
He said that the consolidated turnover of the group excluding Lanka Ceramics was Rs. 3.7 billion, up from Rs. 3 billion a year earlier while after-tax profits were Rs. 140.7 million, up from Rs. 81.5 million the previous year.
At company level, turnover had grown to Rs. 1.05 billion from Rs. 0.8 billion the previous year while the after-tax profit was up to Rs. 94.4 million from Rs. 52.5 million representing 28% turnover and 80% post-tax profit growth.
"The operating results of the company were substantially boosted by the dividends received from subsidiary and associate companies amounting to Rs. 57.4 million," he said.
Page said that the manufacturing, distribution and trade segments of the group as well as that of the company had performed "extremely well" during the year under review both in terms of turnover and profit growth.
Although the leisure segment of the subsidiary had shown improved results, the companys Bandarawela Hotel had been adversely affected by the violence in that area last October and profits were only marginally up in this activity.
Saying "we have to stop looking back to the past and look ahead to the future," the company said that their York Street retail store operated by Millers for over 80 years had been handed over to Cargills who are now the specialist retailing arm of the group in July last year.
"By this strategic decision, the companys aim is to channel all its resources to further intensify its islandwide distribution coverage and increase its extensive network of nominated wholesalers, wholesale dealers and retailers," Millers said.
Towards achieving this object, Millers had developed its Dawson Street freehold property as a large distribution facility with air-conditioned and temperature controlled storage for the products they market. They are also considering re-locating their office to these premises to facilitate operations and help customers inconvenienced by their being located in a congested high security zone.
The Kodak agency held since 1942 had done excellently with a market share in excess of 50% in most products. They have also been selling more mini-labs during the year resulting in a larger network of Kodak Express franchise laboratories exclusively using Kodak paper and chemicals.
The Kraft agency too had been held by Millers for over 50 years and in addition to retail sales, bulk packs of sliced cheese, and many other products are now preferred by chefs of many star class hotels and leading restaurants.
The Ceylon Theatres group owns 57.24% of Millers with Cyril Gardiner Limited as second largest shareholder with 21.29%. The Gardiner interest holds a further 4% approximately through the Galle Face Hotel Company Limited, Mrs. Mavis Gardiner and Mr. Sanjeev Gardiner.
The directors of the company are: Messrs. Anthony A Page (Chairman), R. Senathi Rajah (Deputy Chairman), T. D. E. Jayanithie (M/D), S. R. Balachandran (Finance Director), J. A. Aloysius, B. M. Amarasekera, S. E. C. Gardiner, J. W. A. Muttukumaru, J. C. Page, L. R. Page, V. R. Page, Errol A. D. Perera and A. T. P. Edirisinghe (Alternate to L. R. Page).
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