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John Keells Group records strong recurring EBITDA of Rs.7.17 billion in Q4

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The Group witnessed a faster than anticipated recovery momentum with the performance of most businesses reaching pre COVID-19 levels with business activity and consumer trends being near normal by the end of the financial year.

• Excluding Leisure, Group revenue increased by 17% to Rs.36.15 billion in Q4; up 1% to Rs.122.32 billion in 2020/21.

• Excluding Leisure, Group recurring EBITDA increased by 43% to Rs.7.10 billion in Q4; up 8% to Rs.19.16 billion in 2020/21.

• The pace of recovery in Q4 is demonstrated by the recurring EBITDA of Rs.7.21 billion in the quarter against the full year recurring EBITDA of Rs.15.57 billion.

• Given the positive momentum of the performance of the businesses, notwithstanding the impacts of the current outbreak, a final dividend for 2020/21 of Rs.0.50 per share, was declared to be paid in June 2021. Total dividend declared for 2020/21 amounts to Rs.2.00 per share and a total payout of Rs.1.98 billion. The declaration of this dividend reflects the cash generation capability of the Group’s diverse portfolio of businesses, despite the continued impacts on the Leisure business on the overall performance of the Group.

• A consortium consisting of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ) and JKH, in the capacity as the local partner, received a letter of intent (LOI) to develop and operate the West Container Terminal at the Port of Colombo as a public private partnership (PPP) project.

• The Supermarket business witnessed a sharp quarter-on-quarter recovery momentum in sales, with the fourth quarter same store sales recovering to pre COVID-19 levels.

• The Consumer Foods industry group recorded a strong recovery during the year, particularly the performance of the Frozen Confectionery business. The Frozen Confectionery business recorded its highest monthly sales volume in the history of its operations in March 2021.

• Whilst the opening of the airports is expected to help revive the tourism industry in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the performance of the Leisure business will largely depend on the pace of revival of regional and global travel, when travellers regain confidence, particularly with the vaccination drives in many countries. The performance of the Maldivian Resorts segment and the momentum of forward bookings have been very encouraging.

• With the completion of the residential and office towers at ‘Cinnamon Life’, the hand-over process of the units will commence, on a staggered basis, from the first quarter of 2021/22 onwards, resulting in the recognition of revenue and profits from ‘Cinnamon Life’. Project completion is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022/23.

• The Insurance business recorded double digit growth in gross written premiums during the year driven by an encouraging increase in regular new business premiums. The Banking business recorded an increase in profitability driven by focused recovery efforts, cost management initiatives and higher investment income.



Business

Govt urged to unlock true potential of Sri Lanka’s Blue Economy

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=Take initiatives to reap maximum benefit from our seafood resource

=Fisheries sector can quickly generate employment and export earnings

=Modernizing fisheries sector is a collective responsibility of the government

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Championing the Blue Economy is a relatively easy way out for Sri Lanka to generate employment and export earnings as Sri Lanka can hardly become an industrialized nation, Shiran Fernando, President- Canned Fish Manufacturers Association of Sri Lanka. (CFMASL) told the media last week.

“Concerted efforts need to be made to reap long-term benefits of the sustainable use of marine resources to promote economic growth and come out of the current economic crisis. Facilitating extensive fish farming, proper handling/storage, keeping the catch quite fresh for processing would be key in achieving this goal. The whole government should spearhead this endeavor without leaving the task to the Ministry of Fisheries alone. The fisheries ministry is hard put to find funds despite its willingness to help the private sector to take the industry to the next level. There is a role for the government to play in this exercise which the private investors can’t,” he said.

The outspoken entrepreneur said that the fisheries sector is not getting the attention it deserves from the government although the Minister of Fisheries and the Ministry Secretary are passionate about the industry and are supportive of the private sector investors.

“What we say is; it’s the duty of the government to modernize the practices of this industry by helping the fisher folk to completely transform their way of catching fish by enforcing regulations for responsible fishing, guiding them on protecting the marine ecosystem and providing them with modern fishing vessels with refrigeration technology. They still go out to see on old boats and can’t carry enough ice for fish preservation, therefore, a lot of fish is found to be less than perfect and is diverted for making dried fish. The government should invest in and encourage key innovations in fisheries such as modern boats, nets and cooling systems through appropriate financial arrangements or cluster schemes to fully utilize the catch. You may not be able to get everyone on board such projects, so get as many fisher folk as possible to join such schemes and get them to engage in the industry in a sustainable way with a long-term view. As canned fish manufacturers, we have fulfilled the pledge we made a few years ago that we would manufacture enough canned fish to meet the nation’s requirement. Currently 250,000 canned fish are consumed per day in the country. Now 5 factories of our Association produce 300,000 units of canned fish per day exceeding the daily requirement. Although the consumption had dropped in September-October last year, now it has stabilized with prices coming down. We thank the ministry for increasing the Special Commodity levy (SCL) by Rs. 100 on imported canned fish. We don’t ask the government to stop canned fish imports. Let the Sri Lankan consumers eat imported canned fish if they want to pay more. However, when you import the product that can lead to unemployment and underutilization of our seafood resource,” he said.

Fernando insisted on monitoring and regulating of canned fish companies that don’t carry SLS standards to create awareness in consumers and encourage them to buy local canned fish made in compliance with standards.

He said that his company’s (TESS Group of Companies) operations at currently inoperative Oluvil Harbour would begin soon.

“Our operation there will commence with over Rs 20 million spent on refurbishing the cold storage and factory that TESS Group built there long ago. Since this harbor has not been used for 12 years now, the harbor mouth needs re-dredging. If the government intervenes and does the needful, the area will be more viable for commercial fisheries and will create sustainable livelihoods opportunities for people in the area.”

He noted that if the government supports their Association for value added re-exports of canned fish, they can import raw fish and repack it as fillet fish Flounder (used in fish and chip recipes), Salmon fillet, Anchovy fillets etc., and thus supply to the high-end segment of the global market and increase the country’s export earnings.

“Sri Lanka is doing certain things right in the fisheries sector. We are on the right path, but we urge the authorities to pay more attention and adopt strategies to maximize the use of its vast oceanic resources,” he said.

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ComBank upgrades Q+ Payment App to introduce ‘Send Money’ fund transfers facility

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The Q+ Payment App, another state-of-the-art product of Commercial Bank of Ceylon, which uses a cutting-edge technology, has scaled new heights in technology-enabled convenience with the addition of several new features that enable different methods of fund transfers and flexible payment scheduling options similar to standing orders.

Customers who have linked their Commercial Bank cards to the Q+ Payment App can now send money to another locally-issued Visa and Mastercard Debit, Credit or Prepaid card, to a Commercial Bank or other local bank account or to any Payment Exchange Name (PEN) through any LankaPay-registered mobile number, directly from their registered cards in the App.

Notably, the Card-to-Card funds transfer feature is the first of its kind to be implemented via a payment application in Sri Lanka and is operated via the ‘Visa Direct’ and ‘Mastercard Send’ card-based fund transfer facilities. This user-friendly, two-step fund transfer method can be executed simply by keying in the card number of the recipient and the desired amount, the Bank said. Similarly, the Card-to-Account feature is equally convenient as the sender is require to select the recipient’s bank and then type the account number and amount to conclude the fund transfer. Q+ Payment App has also enabled a favourites tab to store recipient card and account particulars to perform future transactions even more conveniently.

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Quickee shines as Online Brand of the Year at SLIM Brand Excellence 2022

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Quickee, Sri Lanka’s favourite digital marketplace, was awarded Gold in the Online Brand of the Year category at the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards 2022 held recently. This win is attributable to the way the brand transformed itself through Covid-19 amidst many challenges faced to offer an unmatched online shopping experience alongside its own delivery fulfillment service.

Quickee integrates a range of unparalleled products and services that are usually not offered by any other digital commerce platform in Sri Lanka. It has been able to maintain a strong execution capability of its brand promise, with top delivery speeds even during late evenings and after-hours serving any household across the country. Quickee promises a wide array of products and services with the fastest speed for a Sri Lankan online marketplace that delivers until 3 a.m.

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