On 25 August 2021, PG plc published the Annual Report and Financial Statements for the financial year ended 30 April 2021.
During the 2020/21 financial year, PG reported a 7.9% increase in revenues to a record of €129.4 million (FY2019/20: €120 million). The growth emanated from the ‘Supermarkets & Associated Retail Operations’ which registered a near 11% increase in revenues to €111.3 million (FY2019/20: €100.4 million) despite the various actions implemented by the company to support its tenants during the two lockdown periods in May 2020 and in early 2021. On the other hand, revenues generated by the ‘Franchise Operations’ dropped by 7.5% to €18.1 million (FY2019/20: €19.6 million) reflecting the adverse impact of the pandemic including the considerable downturn in tourism.
Operating costs increased in line with the growth in overall revenues and amounted to €113.2 million (+7.9%). Nonetheless, PG still reported a 7.7% increase in operating profit (EBIT) to €16.3 million as the higher profitability and improved EBIT margin of the ‘Supermarkets & Associated Retail Operations’ offset the lower contribution and EBIT margin of the ‘Franchise Operations’. Excluding depreciation and amortisation charges which amounted to €2.74 million (FY2019/20: €2.7 million), overall EBITDA surged by 6.8% to €19 million whilst the EBITDA margin eased slightly to 14.7% from 14.8% in the previous comparable period. Meanwhile, net finance costs contracted by 17.3% to €1.31 million as PG continued with its fast pace of debt reduction.
Overall, PG reported a pre-tax profit of €14.8 million, representing an increase of 10.5% over the €13.4 million figure in the previous twelve months. The tax charge for the year amounted to €4.29 million, leading to a net profit of €10.6 million which is 9.4% higher than the previous comparable figure of €9.65 million. The net profit generated by PG for the 2020/21 financial year translates into a return on average equity of just under 23% which is around 70 basis points lower than the return recorded in the previous year due to the further build-up in the company’s equity base to €49.1 million (30 April 2020: 43.3 million).
The Statement of Financial Position as at 30 April 2021 when compared to the corresponding figures as at 30 April 2020 shows that total assets increased by 0.7% to €103.6 million. On the other hand, total liabilities dropped by 8.5% to €54.5 million mostly due to the further €4.34 million reduction in bank borrowings to €13.2 million.
From a cash flow perspective, PG generated €13.1 million in net cash from operations during the 2020/21 financial year, €1.67 million of which were used towards investing activities, and another €4.8 million were used towards the payment of dividends. For the 2020/21 financial year, PG paid out total net dividends of €0.0481 per share (+8.3%), translating into a payout ratio of 49.3% which is in line with the indicated dividend policy at the time of the equity IPO.
In their commentary, the Directors of PG explained that the supermarket sector in Malta has suffered a reduction in sales since the pandemic started, driven mainly by a reduction in expatriate workers and tourism in self-catering accommodation. However, this phenomenon has to date not impacted the company’s two supermarkets as they are not located in resorts popular with tourists.
The end of the second COVID-19 lockdown appears to have resulted in a surge in consumer confidence, perhaps encouraged by the coverage attained by Malta’s COVID vaccination programme, and this has benefited PG’s Zara and Zara Home operations. As a result, turnover within all the Group’s operations has registered an encouraging growth between May and July 2021 when compared to the same period in 2020.
On the adverse side, the pandemic continues to create business uncertainty. Moreover, PG noted that it is too early to judge the duration and long-term economic impact of Malta’s FATF grey-listing, and the effects that this might have on consumer confidence and spending.