DAIRY Farm International (DFI) reported on Thursday (Mar 3) a decline in net profit for 2021 on the back of lower revenue, with the group's operations continuing to be impacted by the pandemic.
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Dairy Farm International, which operates the Cold Storage supermarkets (above) among others, says the pandemic had constrained normal store operations, and reduced traffic. Government support was also lower than in the prior year. PHOTO: SPH

Net profit for the full year ended Dec 31, 2021, fell 62 per cent to US$102.9 million from US$271 million the year before. Sales fell to US$9 billion, down 12.2 per cent from US$10.3 billion a year earlier.

Said chairman Ben Keswick in a statement: “Last year was another challenging year for DFI retail group, with the pandemic impacting the group’s operations and, as a result, its financial results.”

The group said the pandemic had constrained normal store operations, and reduced traffic. Government support was also lower than in the prior year; a key associate, Chinese grocery retailer Yonghui, also incurred a significant loss.

Underlying net profit, which excludes non-trading items, fell to US$105 million from US$276 million in 2020, and DFI said around 70 per cent of this reduction was due to a US$119 million adverse swing in its share of Yonghui’s profits compared to 2020.

However, its restaurant associate, Maxim’s, had an “encouraging recovery” during the period, with contribution to the group’s profit increasing to US$52 million from US$36 million in 2020, despite lower levels of government support.

DFI also said that the underlying financial performance of its subsidiaries improved year on year when government support was excluded.

The net profit of its subsidiaries in 2021 was US$145 million, down 27 per cent on year. Excluding the impact of net subsidies, however, the net profit from subsidiaries would have been up 35 per cent from 2020, DFI said.

Earnings per share fell to US$0.0761 in 2021, compared to US$0.2003 in 2020. A final dividend of US$0.065 per share has been recommended, taking the total dividend for the year to US$0.095 per share, down 42 per cent from US$0.165 in 2020.

“The level of the dividend reflects the challenging conditions faced by the group, but the board remains confident in the medium- and long-term prospects of the business,” Keswick said.

He added that there remains “significant uncertainty” on the duration and extent of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly with the recent rise of Omicron cases in Hong Kong.

However, he expressed confidence in the group’s “ability to adapt to remain relevant and competitive in each market, and to achieve long-term sustainable recovery and growth in a post-pandemic environment”.

DFI shares closed at US$2.67 on Thursday, up 1.1 per cent or US$0.03 before the results announcement.

Assam Governor Gulab Chand Kataria on Friday asked the government to help set up more cooperative societies in order to strengthen the dairy sector in the state.

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