Sierra Leone Brewery Limited Holds Virtual AGM

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By Amin Kef Sesay

Sierra Leone Brewery Limitsed held its 57th Annual General Meeting (AGM) virtually through  Microsoft teams link internet connection on Friday 2nd October, 2020 at 3pm. Apporaval was sought for permission by Corporate  Affairs Commission  due to the ongoing  Covid 19 pandrmic. Among the pertinent issues discussed by the shareholders included the significant revenue results in 2019 and the negative impact of foreign exchange difference.

The Chairman of the occasion, Jan-Kees Nieman, informed the AGM that in spite of the company making an operational loss in the 2019 financial year, the investments made by the company in terms of machinery and personnel training resulted in the company remaining a going concern in 2020 and beyond.

He further reported that the company was however affected negatively by currency depreciation which fueled inflation and negatively impacted the main input costs of Sierra Leone Brewery Limited.

He maintained that the 2019 business environment was characterized by relatively less intense political activities than in 2018 during which year the national general elections were held.

However, he was glad to state that the SLBL continued to experience challenge with local currency depreciation of 13.6%, and inflation of 14.8% added to high monetary market rate of 8.4%, which translated into high cost of running business.

He lamented that the SL Leone further depreciated in relation to the main international currencies. Furthermore duties on imported alcoholic beverages  were significantly lowered in 2018 and were maintained at that level and continued to have negative impact on the competitiveness of SLBL locally produced products.

He said this affected performance and the business SLBL had made for its large investments in previous years.

Fortunately, he maintained that in spite of this very challenging business atmosphere,  SLBL delivered a positive business performance in 2019 while networks revenue grew by 15% from Le 139.4 billion in 2018 to Le 160.0 billion in 2019. And this revenue growth he said was a result of strong sales execution, marketing campaigns and investment in outlets and the hawker channels.

He added that the operating result improved significantly from Le208 million in 2018 to Le6 billion in 2019 and that this was mainly a result of increased sales revenue, improved production efficiency and a robust cost management.

He further informed shareholders that the Net Financing Cost of the SLBL increased from Le19.5 billion in 2018 to Le35.4 billion in 2019, primarily driven by the exchange losses as the Leone continued to depreciate.

As a result, the net loss increased from Le19.3 billion in 2018 to a loss of Le29.5 billion in 2019.

Significantly, he added that the SLBL made huge investments in modernization, adding that in 2019, the transformation and modernization of the Brewery continued with a total of Le85 billion invested within the year while the major investments included installation of a brand new canning line in 2018, upgrading of the electricity supply and further upgrading of the brew house.

He maintained that total investment in the SLBL now amounts to Le293 billion in the last 4 years.

The new canning line, which was commissioned in September 2018, continues to give SLBL the ability to market its brands in can formats of different sizes.

The second part of the Brew House upgrade was installed and commissioned in December 2018. With this upgrade, the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited now has an end-to end brand new brew house, which is capable of delivering long-term master plan production volume.

In addition, the SLBL continued to focus on increasing its supply chain efficiencies in order to reduce production costs. During the year, the SLBL was able to reduce extract losses, energy usage and increase packaging efficiency.

The SLBL also invested heavily in large-scale training and development programs for its supply chain team to equip them with critical skills to match new technologies the SLBL is now using in brewing and production processes.

SLBL’s local sourcing agenda is a key strategic objective.

Through the CREATE programme the company works with local farmers to grow sorghum for use as raw material in its production.

In 2019 the SLBL was able to further increase the sorghum supplied and used in its recipes, hence supporting the local content policy. We aim to further increase sorghum availability through using of higher yielding seed variety, increase of acreage planted and through larger semi-commercial farms.

SLBL continues to pursue an aggressive sales and marketing strategy. At the end of 2019, a Sales & Export department was set-up to ensure proper focus on the route to market, customer satisfaction, and further benefit from regional trade agreement through export to neighbouring countries. SLBL expects to reap benefits of this new activity in 2020.

The company continues to offer to consumers an outstanding experience by investing in many more outlets, on top of the cuts done in 2017 and 2018, with this significant investment, SLBL continues to support the outlets (SMES) to increase their sales as consumers continue to enjoy SLBL’s quality products in a beautiful setting.

SLBL also made a landmark contribution in supporting community infrastructure especially in the areas of health and water.

He added that the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited made significant contribution to Sierra Leone’s social and developmental growth agenda through its strategic Corporate Social Responsibility policy. This, he said was done through “our company investment and growth strategy and in most cases, with the support of the HEINEKEN Africa  Foundation.”

“We continued to engage our development partners and stakeholders across the country, and provided funds in the development of Sorghum and to impact on the livelihood of thousands in Sierra Leone in the agricultural sector,” he said.

The auditors, Bakertilly SL, added their voice stating that they have indicated their willingness to continue in office.

Laurent N. Bukasa, current Managing Director of SLBL who took over from Daaf Van Tilburg, has committed  himself to pushing the vision and mission of SLBL and he is poised to take the company to higher heights, following on the heels of his predecessor.

The under mentioned  Directors were duly re-elected  at the virtual AGM  Mr.  L. J.T. Pratt, I.D.A. Carrol.

The Company  Secretary Albert Ojo Ulric Collier read the Notice of  Meeting.

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