Bidvest continues to grow amid economic volatility

South African industrial conglomerate Bidvest announced that it managed to grow its full-year trading profit by 4.6% to R6 billion, defying challenging market conditions, in a results statement issued on Monday.

Income from investments increased 34.5% to R210.8m, while headline earnings per share rose 5% to R11.08 and the final dividend per share was up 13.8% to R2.64.

CEO Lindsay Ralphs said Bidvest had developed and restructured its extensive portfolio in seven core divisions by growing their sectors and aiming for international diversification.

"We have delivered a solid trading result in an exacting market, characterised by a lack of economic growth and declining consumer spend, as well as significant business and political uncertainty. We are evolving successfully following last year's unbundling of the food service businesses. The benefits of our diversified portfolio and the quality of the underlying businesses are evident in the performance of the trading operations where five of Bidvest's seven divisions, as well as Bidvest Properties, delivered growth in trading profit," said Ralphs.

Ralphs was confident that a focus on expense control and asset management would ensure sustainable growth, especially in view of a predicted uptick in the economy.

Bidvest will continue to explore acquisitive opportunities in local and international markets and look to complement existing product and service offerings.

"We maintain a sound financial position and a strong balance sheet with adequate headroom to support growth aspirations," said Ralphs.

A member of the JSE top 40, Bidvest was founded in 1988 by Brian Joffe (pictured). It owns or has significant holdings in over 300 companies and employs approximately 114 000 people. Joffe's long association with the group ended this month when he resigned from the board. He recently set up a new venture, Long4Life, whose sole investment to date is the purchase of the Sorbet beauty spa chain, but there are others in the pipeline.

Bidvest's diverse investment portfolio spans services, freight, automotive, office and print, commercial products, financial services and electrical companies, including pharmaceuticals group Adcock Ingram, airline operator Comair and Mumbai Airport. It recently spun off its food services division into the separately listed Bidcorp.

Hans Peter Meijer has been Group Financial Director since May 2016.