CAPE TOWN: On 31 August, Sea Harvest Group announced a stable set of interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2020 with a 7% increase in revenue to R2 billion and headline earnings of 61 cents per share, in line with the same period last year. This is despite the worst pandemic experienced in over a century. The Group’s results were driven by consistent performances from its South African fishing segment, the Cape Harvest Food Group segment (which, inter alia, produces South African cheese and other dairy products) and its Australian operations, which were, however, offset by continued challenges in the Aquaculture segment that was severely impacted by the effects of Covid-19.
Sea Harvest Group Chief Executive Officer, Felix Ratheb, said that, while Sea Harvest continued operating as an “essential service” provider, the impact of the pandemic and the COVID-19 lockdowns in the markets in which the Group operates meant that it did so below normal capacity levels. He explained that the Group needed to adapt to market conditions globally by changing its product and market mix relatively quickly with a focus on retail, as out-of-home consumption declined to virtually zero worldwide, which proved the resilient and defensive nature of the business and the sectors in which it operates. Unfortunately, the aquaculture business that supplies abalone to the foodservice industry in Asia, particularly Hong Kong, suffered a devastating impact as a result of COVID-19, compounded by the grounding of almost all air travel during the various lockdowns.
The Group CEO stated that despite the supply chain side of the business also having its fair share of challenges with increased absenteeism, lower levels of efficiency and productivity, compounded by logistical bottlenecks, he is incredibly proud that Sea Harvest was able to balance supply with demand.
Sea Harvest began implementing COVID-19 protocols in early March and dedicated significant resources to ensure the safety of its staff and limit the spread of the virus at its operations. This included over 15,000 screenings across all its sites, erecting physical barriers to ensure adequate social distancing and initiating an extensive contact-tracing prevention strategy to curb the spread of the virus at its facilities across the Western Cape. By the end of August, the Group had spent R16m on COVID-19 initiatives in its South African operations with an ongoing cost of c.R4m per month allocated to fight the virus for the remainder of 2020.
According to Ratheb, despite stringent measures being put in place to prevent the virus from entering Sea Harvest’s workplaces, as with all companies across South Africa, once there were outbreaks within communities where the operations were located, this manifested itself at some of the operating sites. At the time of announcing the H1 results, the company had a 100% recovery rate and delivered more than 10,000 food relief packages to benefit its staff and the communities it serves.
The Group is adopting a cautious outlook for the remainder of 2020.