At least one of this country’s largest manufacturers was able to maintain the stability of its profits through the COVID-19 pandemic.
West India Biscuit Company (WIBISCO), reporting on its half-year performance for the period ending February 28, chairman David Bynoe said revenues of $29.5 million which the company generated, represented a $1.2 million decline when compared to the same period last year.
He said the $1.2 million decline represented a four per cent drop.
Importantly, despite the slight drop in revenues, WIBISCO was confident enough in the performance of the biscuit manufacturer that the Board of Directors declared an interim dividend payment of $0.25 per share to be made next month.
This, as a number of publicly listed companies have not paid a dividend to their shareholders due to the impact of COVID-19 on company profits. In the recently published unaudited, financial statements, the company reported net after-tax profit of $3.80 million, compared to the $3.72 million, which it generated for the first half of last year.
The Gills Road, Bridgetown bakery, which was established in 1910, registered slightly reduced operating expenses that fell from $26.86 million to $25.54 million this year.
In the chairman’s report, Bynoe told shareholders: “During the first half of the year, we continued to experience unprecedented challenges in our economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He added: “Our revenues were affected not only by the slowing down of the economy due to the pandemic but the closure of the plant to facilitate the installation and commissioning of a new packaging machine for the sweet biscuit line.”
This project, the chairman explained, was now completed and the bakery was “seeing the benefits of this installation with lower scrap levels and increased throughput”.
Operating expenses decreased by 4.9 per cent over the prior year, however, Bynoe disclosed that this was mainly due to a reduction in advertising and “promotional activities not executed in both the local and export markets due to the global pandemic”.
According to the WIBISCO chairman, during the first half of the year, the company invested an additional $2.0 million in Williams Industries Renewable Energy Bonds at 3.25 per cent for two years. He added: “While we are uncertain of the economic recovery time, we however, will remain hopeful that the economy will recover in the not-too-distant future.”
Regional biscuit giant Bermudez, which is headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, holds majority share ownership in WIBISCO. (IMC1)