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8 August 2018: Stock Spirits Group PLC (“Stock Spirits” or the “Company” or the “Group”), a leading owner and producer of premium branded spirits and liqueurs that are principally sold in Central and Eastern Europe, announces its results for the six months ended 30 June 2018.
“In these six months we have delivered growth in volumes, sales revenue, profit, and margins. Despite some challenges in our core markets, and in particular the competitive pricing environment in Poland, we believe that our ongoing focus on investment in our brands, product innovation and premiumisation are working well and we are well positioned to achieve further growth in the second half of the year and beyond .”
1 The adoption of IFRS15 in the year has resulted in a restatement of prior year financials. See note 3 in the Unaudited Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
2 We have referenced EBITDA, a non-GAAP measure in the financial highlights section. For details of the reconciliation of EBITDA to GAAP financial numbers please refer to notes 5 and 6 in the Unaudited Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
3 Leverage is the ratio of net debt to EBITDA
There will be an Analyst Teach-In on Thursday 9 August 2018. If you wish to attend, please contact Powerscourt on firstname.lastname@example.org
Presentations will be available on the website (https://www.stockspirits.com/investors) after commencement of this session at 1pm.
For further information:
Stock Spirits Group: +44 (0) 1628 648 500
Paul Bal, Chief Financial Officer
Powerscourt: +44 (0) 1628 648 500
A copy of this interim results announcement (“announcement”) has been posted on www.stockspirits.com. Investors can also address any query to email@example.com.
This announcement may contain statements which are not based on current or historical fact and which are forward looking in nature. These forward looking statements may reflect knowledge and information available at the date of preparation of this announcement and the Company undertakes no obligation to update these forward looking statements. Such forward looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties facing the Group including, without limitation, those risks described in this announcement, and other unknown future events and circumstances which can cause results and developments to differ materially from those anticipated. Nothing in this announcement should be construed as a profit forecast.
This announcement contains inside information which is disclosed in accordance with the Market Abuse Regulation.
Basis of Preparation
The financial information contained in these interim results does not constitute statutory accounts of Stock Spirits Group PLC within the meaning of Section 434 of the Companies Act 2006. Statutory accounts for Stock Spirits Group PLC for the year ended 31 December 2017 were delivered to the Registrar of Companies. The auditors have reported on the accounts, their report was:(i) unqualified; (ii) did not include a reference to any matters to which the auditor drew attention by way of emphasis without qualifying their report; and (iii) did not constitute a statement under Section 498(2) or (3) of the Companies Act 2006.
About Stock Spirits Group
Stock Spirits is one of Central and Eastern Europe's leading branded spirits and liqueurs businesses, and offers a portfolio of products that are rooted in local and regional heritage. With core operations in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, Stock also exports to more than 50 other countries worldwide. Global sales volumes currently total over 100 million litres per year.
Stock has world class production facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic and Germany, and its core brands include products made to long-established recipes such as Stock 84 brandy, Fernet Stock bitters and Limonce, as well as more recent creations like Stock Prestige and Żołᶏdkowa de Luxe vodkas.
Stock is listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange. For the year ended 31 December 2017 it delivered total revenue of €274.6m and operating profit before exceptional expenses of €44.8m.
For more information please visit www.stockspirits.com.
We are pleased to deliver our interim results, which confirms what we said earlier this year, that our Polish business has stabilised and is slowly moving into growth. As a Group, we have grown our volumes, our sales revenue, our profits and our margins. As we have previously signalled, this is notwithstanding the increased investment behind our brands. Our cash generation remains strong, further strengthening the Group’s financial position. This progress has been organically-driven, leveraging the careful investment we have put behind our brands and our capabilities. Positive macroeconomic conditions in a number of our Central European markets have provided further momentum.
The Polish business has produced solid top-line growth, with volumes, market share and sales revenue growing. This has been achieved in what continues to be a very competitive environment without positive pricing development. Our commitment to our brand portfolio, which has seen further investment in the period, has enabled us to improve sales mix. This premiumisation is delivering higher value, as seen through the ongoing success of Stock Prestige, Poland’s leading premium vodka. The Trade channel has seen some regulatory developments relating to trading hours and outlet licensing which, although negative for the Group, we do not currently expect to have any material impact.
The Czech business also grew its top line. However, this market has been impacted by certain dynamics in the Trade channel that have tempered its profit growth. Firstly, some of our Trade customers have altered long-established promotional strategies, now choosing to focus on value rather than volume. This has been accompanied by the launch of a number of private label offers. We are confident that our strong brands in the Czech Republic will eventually prevail, demonstrated by the success of recent new product launches such as Božkov Republica and Black Fox, especially in premium On-Trade. Our Czech team has also successfully navigated a number of regulatory issues, including the ban of rum ether. In the period, we extended our partnership with Beam-Suntory to include the Czech and Slovakian markets, alongside existing markets in Poland, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.This further strengthens our leadership position in the market.
Italy remains a challenging market, but we are committed to a turnaround in our performance, which we believe will provide a better foundation for building a business of scale. Early signs of our three-year programme to invest in the Keglevich brand are encouraging, particularly in the digital space.
All other markets, (which include Slovakia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia together with our export operations, and the Baltic distillery), have performed ahead of our expectations.
As planned, we continue to invest behind our Polish, Italian and Czech brands. In Poland, this has included a relaunch of Żołᶏdkowa de Luxe to premiumise packaging and improve the taste profile, and the multi-year programme of investment behind Keglevich, Italy’s leading vodka, which has in part been funded by further tactical cost savings and by maintaining a “lean” culture. In Czech this included the launch of the Božkov Republica and Black Fox.
Our partners at Quintessential Brands Irish Whiskey Ltd are progressing with the building of their distillery in Dublin with the official opening planned for late 2018. Plans have been drawn up to start distribution of certain brands in all of our key markets. This is an important part of our strategy for further participation in the growing whisky sub-category.
While the issues around bourbon tariffs have been well publicised, during the period we have not experienced any adverse impact, and do not anticipate a material impact in this calendar year. This is something we will continue to monitor.
Our four-pillar strategy – i.e. focusing on Premiumisation, Millennials, Digital and M&A - is providing us with a solid framework for prioritising our resources and efforts in a focused pursuit of further growth opportunities. This discipline is critical, particularly until the pricing environment in Poland becomes more favourable and provides additional contribution to our delivery.
Today, we are announcing an interim dividend of 2.50 € cents per share, representing an increase of 5.0% versus last year’s interim dividend of 2.38 € cents per share. This is consistent with our aim of providing progressive dividends, whilst maintaining our ability to build scale through potential future M&A. Our robust balance sheet and continued strong cash generation provide us with the capacity for strategic M&A, if opportunities arise.
Given our previously announced change to a 30 September reporting year-end, we will be reporting on our 9-month results to 30 September 2018 on Wednesday 5 December. At the same time, we will report pro forma and unaudited 12 months results to 30 September 2018, with comparative pro forma unaudited results for the 12 months to 30 September 2017. Based on the trading performance during the first half of the year, the Group remains well-placed to deliver a continued solid performance over this period.
Revenue has grown on a reported basis by +5.0%, and on a constant currency basis revenue is €67.1m versus €64.5m last year (as restated for IFRS 15), or growth of +4.0%. Reported EBITDA in H1 was €17.7m versus €16.9m last year. On a constant currency basis EBITDA has increased by €0.6m, with margin of 26.4% slightly below last year (26.5% as restated for IFRS 15).
For the Polish market, total vodka market volumes declined by -1.0% in the six months to end of June 2018 versus +1.2% last year. The decline is driven by the contraction of the clear vodka market by -3.0%, whilst flavoured vodka remains in growth (+5.3% to the end of June). The value of the vodka market also declined versus last YTD by -0.5% (2017: +1.5%), which is possibly a reflection of the relatively higher temperatures experienced so far this year. In marked contrast to the marginally declining overall vodka market, Stock Polska achieved strong growth in both retail volume +7.3% and retail value +5.3% YTD, and is now the fastest growing major player in the vodka market by volume and value YTD.
Pricing of our products remains a key priority, and has been closely monitored to ensure that our brands and pack sizes remain competitive across all Trade channels. There has been no increase YTD in mainstream clear vodka market pricing. Our focus during the period has been on execution in the Trade channels, to ensure our promotional offers, point-of-sale sales activation, trade marketing and sales force training and tools develop in line with the standards we wish to attain. The Polish team is also successfully navigating through recent regulations regarding trading hours and outlet licensing.
We continued to drive innovation of our core brands, launching three new flavours of Saska and two new Lubelska flavours shortly after its relaunch. We also relaunched Żołᶏdkowa de Luxe, our largest clear vodka in impactful new packaging, plus introduced a Stock Prestige “World Cup” limited edition. Within the combined Premium, Super and Ultra-Premium vodka segments we have the fastest growing brand portfolio with overall value growth of +16.9% YTD versus market growth of +3.7%.
In addition to our growth in vodka, we grew volume and value YTD in the fast-growing whisky category, YTD +4.3% volume and +5.2% value with our partners Beam-Suntory, from whom our team were proud to receive the prestigious Fred Noe Award. This is awarded to the distributor that demonstrated game-changing behaviour on Jim Beam, ensuring a long-lasting legacy in the market.
Overall, the actions we have taken are delivering results. At the end of June our total market volume share YTD was 26.8% versus 24.7% last year, and YTD value share was 27.2% versus 25.7% last year. We have started to outperform our main competitor in this period, whilst the third main player in the market has increased its downward trend.
4 Note: All market data for Poland, Czech and Slovakia as per Nielsen June 2018; for Italy as per IRI June 2018
Revenue has grown on a reported basis by +8.4%, and on a constant currency basis revenue is €31.9m versus €30.9m last year (restated for IFRS 15), growth of +3.4%. Reported EBITDA is consistent with last year, but on a constant currency basis has decreased by €0.4m to €9.6m due to increased advertising and promotional (A&P) investment. On a reported basis EBITDA margin has reduced from 32.4% last year (restated for IFRS 15) to 30.0%.
In the market, total spirits grew both value +8.0% and volume +5.0% YTD driven primarily by the Off-Trade channel. The four core categories which Stock focuses on - Rum, Vodka, Herbal Bitters and Whisky, together accounting for c.77% of total spirits value - all grew value YTD. However, we saw a decline in herbal bitters volume driven primarily by reduced promotional activity in economy and mainstream in a number of major retailers.
In the On-Trade, the smoking ban, introduced in May 2017, has reduced overall outlet numbers and consumption in the economy and mainstream segments.
Given our scale in the main categories, Stock has been impacted by the shift in promotional strategy by the retailers, which impacted total volume YTD by -3.1%. Despite this, our innovation in the premium segment, plus the benefits from previously-acquired brands and execution of our Božkov range strategy, delivered YTD value growth of +3.0%. We also maintained market leadership and achieved value share of 31.6% at YTD June 2018.
Our Božkov brand strategy, offering a wider mix of variants which increased choice and price range for the consumer across the segments, is delivering tangible results. Despite the pressures on total volumes, Stock grew value share YTD of Rum from 58.0% at LYTD to 58.7% at YTD June 2018. The key success YTD in the Rum category was the launch in Q1 of Božkov Republica, which has already achieved 28.8% value share of Imported Rum. Captain Morgan Original, which Stock distributes in the Czech Republic on behalf of Diageo, remains the number one Imported Rum on a MAT value-share basis and a key growth driver, achieving value growth of +11.5% YTD, well ahead of the total Rum category growth at +8.5%. During the period, the local team has successfully navigated the regulatory issues relating to the rum ether ban.
In the highly competitive vodka category, the continued benefits from the acquisition of the spirits business of Bohemia Sekt in 2016 helped maintain our market value share in the vodka category YTD at 28.2%. This is despite increasing competition from private labels.
Our well-established partnership with Diageo and new distribution agreement with Beam-Suntory, which commenced in Q1 2018, give us, we believe, the strongest Whisky portfolio in the Czech Republic, where we achieved Whisky value share growth from +9.5% LYTD to +10.9% at YTD June 2018.
These successes outweighed a YTD decline in total Herbal Bitters of -14.8% value, driven primarily by the change in retailer promotional strategy as well as some aggressive competitor pricing. Our new Premium Herbal Bitter, Black Fox, launched in Q4 last year, achieved 3.7% value share of Premium Herbal Bitters YTD, counteracting in part the decline on Fernet Stock in Mainstream.
Revenue has declined from €12.0m last year (as restated for IFRS 15), to €11.5m. EBITDA in Italy is €1.2m versus €2.3m for the same period last year, partly due to investment in Keglevich, with an underlying EBITDA margin of 10.7% versus 19.5% last year (as restated for IFRS 15).
In a difficult market, Stock Italia held volume and value share in our key focus channel, the modern Off-Trade. Stock’s total value share YTD is 5.5% (versus 5.8% LYTD) and volume share is 5.8% (versus 6.0% LYTD). We have made volume and value share gains YTD in brandy and clear vodka. However, with the softening of the market and growth of private label, we lost value share in flavoured vodka-based liqueurs and Limoncello from 62.6% to 60.8% and from 20.8% to 20.6% respectively at YTD June 2018.
During Q2 2018, we commenced the relaunch of the Keglevich fruit flavoured range, supported by new packaging and significant investment in a new “Pure Vodka, Pure Fruit” communications campaign via a combination of digital and traditional media. This aims to reach nearly 90% of our millennial target audience between now and December 2018, plus a nationwide series of “Pure Party” trial-building events in collaboration with one of Italy’s biggest radio stations, RDS, which has over six million listeners. Our objective is to turnaround not just the brand but the flavoured sub-category it leads.
Keglevich clear vodka has also been relaunched with an improved quality, which is six times distilled, and more impactful packaging. It has outperformed the category YTD in both volume and value growth.
Stock 84 brandy’s refreshed packaging across the range and improved premium Stock XO range extension have driven YTD value and volume growth ahead of the brandy category. The new XO has achieved value growth of +34.3% YTD in a category declining by -3.6%.
Our other markets include Slovakia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia together with our export operations, and the Baltic distillery.
Revenue for the period was €13.5m, versus €12.4m in 2017 (as restated for IFRS 15), growth of +8.5%. EBITDA for the six months to the end of June 2018 was €1.6m (€0.7m LYTD).
In Slovakia, performance YTD is in line with our expectations. Our premiumisation strategy in Slovakia is delivering good results. We also saw significant growth in the whisky category through the new distribution agreement with Beam-Suntory. We have increased Jim Beam’s value share YTD to 8.6% from 3.2% last year, moving it from number eight to the number four brand in the total value rankings.
Our Baltic distillery is now fully operational and the causes of the incident last year which led to the facility ceasing production of alcohol for a short period have been successfully addressed.
Investment in Irish Whiskey
Our 25% investment in Quintessential Brands Ireland Whiskey Limited is performing to expectations, and the new distillery build in the Liberties area of Dublin is scheduled to be officially opened in late 2018. This development will include a state-of-the-art distillery, alongside a visitor and brand experience centre, providing an exciting brand home for The Dubliner and The Dublin Liberties. The Irish whiskey brands will shortly be rolled-out in all our key markets, allowing the Group greater penetration into the fast-growing whisky sub-category in each market.
The Group has adopted two new IFRS requirements since 1 January 2018. In adopting IFRS 15 (Revenue from Contracts with Customers) revenue for 2017 has been restated. The impact of the implementation of IFRS 15 for the 6 months to 30 June has been to decrease revenue in 2018 by €2.2m to €124.1m (2017: decrease of €2.0m to €117.8m). This has impacted EBITDA margin, increasing it by 0.4% in 2018 to 18.9% (2017: margin increase of 0.3% to 18.7%). There is no net impact on EBITDA.
There has been no material impact to the Group’s financial results from the adoption of IFRS 9 (Financial Instruments). The Group obtains credit insurance in all the key markets in which it operates.
Revenue has grown +5.3% to €124.1m (2017: €117.8m), driven by positive increases across all growth levers, primarily mix +2.7%; FX +1.8% and pricing +0.4%. The mix effect has been strong in Poland, and price has been driven predominantly in the Czech Republic with Božkov Republica. Poland continues to be a highly competitive market place.
The result of the improved pricing and mix on revenue has more than compensated for the marginal increase in cost of goods sold per litre, with a resulting 10bps improvement in gross margin at 49.1%.
Selling expenses have increased in the period by +6.6% as we invest more in A&P behind NPD such as Black Fox and Božkov Republica in Czech, plus the repackaging and repositioning of Keglevich fruit vodka in the Italian market, where a new advertising campaign (digital and media) has recently been launched. This is a multi-year programme of consistent investment behind this brand. Lubelska, Saska, Żołᶏdkowa de Luxe and Stock Prestige also saw higher spend.
Other operating expenses have increased year-on-year but, at 2.5%, are below inflationary levels. Credit losses in the year are minimal. In 2017, our International division suffered a loss in Croatia, deemed as a one-off expense and where the cash has been partially received in 2018.
Operating profit for the period is €18.0m, an increase of +9.7% versus 2017 (€16.5m). EBITDA has improved by +6.2% versus 2017 at €23.4m with an EBITDA margin of 18.9% (2017: €22.0m; 18.7%).
Underlying net finance costs are higher than the prior year, as drawings on our Group financing facility were higher. 2017 benefitted by €0.2m due to a provision release, and 2018 benefitted by €0.2m of exchange gains on borrowings.
As set out in the principal risks and uncertainties and in note 8 of the interim financial statements, the Group is exposed to a number of tax risks in the countries in which it operates. In recent years, the Group has observed developments in relevant Polish tax laws and regulations. Taken as a whole, and in common with other companies operating in Poland, this increases the uncertainties relating to the treatment of historical positions. The Group takes professional advice and continues to make appropriate provisions where tax liabilities appear likely. The effective tax rate of the Group, at 24.9%, is slightly lower, this reflects the lower UK cost base.
Basic earnings per share are reported as 6.38 € cents for the period versus 5.85 € cents for 2017, a growth of +9.1%.
Cash conversion continues to be a characteristic strength of the business, and in H1 the Free Cash Flow conversion rate (being Free Cash Flow as a % of EBITDA) was 147% (2017: 166%)5. At the end of June 2018, net debt was €38.7m, €14.4m lower than at December 2017 (€53.1m), with a leverage of 0.67x (December 2017: 0.94x).
Whilst working capital is always a focus for management, decisions were made in the period to mitigate against certain external risks facing the business. The rum ether issue in Czech is well documented. Ahead of the eventual favourable decision from the EU, it was decided to significantly increase Božkov (tuzemsky local rum) inventory levels. We also increased the level of bourbon products purchased from our distribution partner Beam Suntory in Poland, ahead of any potential tariffs imposed by the EU as a result of the recent trade disagreements with the US. Both of these have driven the increase in inventory levels by €8.7m compared to December 2017. However, this position will unwind in the coming months. We are working with our partners to understand and best manage the financial and commercial impact of the recently implemented bourbon tariffs.
Capital expenditure is marginally higher in H1 2018 versus the prior period as the Group has invested in improvements in its IT infrastructure; making our Group-wide network more resilient and reliable.
The Company purchased 1.2m of its shares in the period, at a cost of €3.5m, to settle future obligations under its share-based reward schemes. These shares provide a natural hedge to the P&L charge coming from the various share schemes in place under IFRS 2 (Classification and Measurement of Share-based Payment Transactions).
The Board of Directors has agreed an interim dividend payment of 2.50 € cents per share, an increase of 5% on the prior year interim dividend. The dividend will be paid on 21 September 2018, with a record date of 31 August 2018 (shareholders on the register at the close of business on 30 August 2018). The Euro: Sterling exchange rate will be fixed on the record date.
5 See note 6 in the Unaudited Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements for a calculation of Free Cash Flow and a calculation of the conversion rate
Taking into account our performance in these six months and since the period-end, the Group is on track with its results for the calendar year as a whole. The half-year financial performance was enhanced (€0.8m benefit to reported EBITDA) by positive impacts of foreign currency translation. We have no control over these impacts and if they were to continue to be positive, future year results could be further enhanced by the translation effect.
As previously announced, the Group will be reporting on a 9 month financial period to the end of September 2018. The final period-end results will be announced on 5 December 2018, along with a management presentation of the results. Pro forma unaudited P&L information will be provided for the 12 months to September 2017 and 2018 also on this date.
After making enquiries, the Directors have a reasonable expectation that the Company and its subsidiaries have adequate resources to continue in operational existence for at least the next twelve months. For this reason, they continue to adopt the going concern basis in preparing the consolidated financial information of the Group.
Principal Risks and uncertainties
The Board considers the key risks for the Group remain as:
Further detail on the principal risks and uncertainties affecting the business activities of the Group are set out on pages 20 to 25 in the Stock Spirits Group Annual Report 2017, a copy of which is available on the Company’s website at www.stockspirits.com. In the view of the Board there is no material change in these risks in respect of the remaining six months of the year.
Responsibility statement of the Directors in respect of the half-yearly financial report
We confirm to the best of our knowledge:
The condensed set of financial statements has been prepared in accordance with IAS 34 Interim Financial Reporting as adopted by the EU
The interim management report includes a fair review of the information required by:
The Board of Directors as at 8th August 2018 is as follows: David Maloney (Chairman), Mirek Stachowicz (Chief Executive Officer), Paul Bal (Chief Financial Officer), John Nicolson (Senior Independent Non-Executive Director), Mike Butterworth (Independent Non-Executive Director), Tomasz Blawat (Independent Non-Executive Director) and Diego Bevilacqua (Independent Non-Executive Director).
For and on behalf of the Board of Directors:
8th August 2018
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