By Franklin Ocheneyi
“The Sleeping Giant is rising up again.” That’s how the shareholders of Cadbury Nigeria Plc applauded the financial performance of the company during the 53rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the candies maker in Lagos, last week Friday.
The shareholders drawn from Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, ISAN; Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, PSAN, among others, raised their hats off to the company’s Board for having declared dividend payment of N301, 512,314 i.e. 16 kobo per ordinary share of 50 kobo each for Financial Year Ended, December 31, 2017.
“That is the maximum dividend we can pay out because dividend is based on profit; the profit in 2017 was small but we felt shareholders deserve to get something, so we pay out 16kobo; we will increase the dividend as we make more profit,” said Atedo Peterside, the company’s Chairman.
According to him, in spite of challenges in the economy in terms of continuing pressure on disposable incomes, high input costs, high interest rates, insecurity, fierce competition, poor infrastructure and foreign exchange scarcity, to mention a few, “Our stakeholders should be relieved to note that we have, in 2017, turned the Company’s fortunes around by erasing the previous loss position.”
“Looking at the financial statement, all the indices are looking upward. The sleeping giant is rising up again,” said Adeniyi Adegbesan, National Coordinator, ISAN
“We are happy for 16 kobo dividend. I congratulate you. It is not easy for any company to hold annual general meeting let alone pay dividend,” said Ayodele Ogudeji, one of the shareholders.
“I am impressed with 16kobo dividend per share declared,” added Godwin Emeka-Edeh, another shareholder.
Commendation also came from Nona Awoh, another shareholder of the company: “This is the fifth year of consecutive dividend after seven years of no dividend.”
“You dividend is palatable to me; we were on negative side last year, and positive side this year, said Chief T.O. Adegboye, another shareholder.
“You have done a good job but get closer to what Nestle is paying; Cadbury is coming up and I urge Mondelez International, the parent company not to frequently change the Managing Director; allow him to stay five years instead of two years. This is to enable him to understand the terrain,” added Okezie Boniface, National Chairman of PSAN.
Demand for New Products to Boost Earnings
An adage says “Your foods should be your drugs, and your drugs should be your food; beyond sweets, Cadbury should come out with products that can address the health challenges of Nigerians such as diabetes.”
Oderinde Taiwo, a shareholder of the company under the umbrella of Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, set this agenda for the Board of the company
Awoh corroborate to this and said: “Cadbury should take Research and Development (R& D) more seriously and convince our foreign partners that there are indigenous foods that can fetch us more money such as “Acha” in the Middle-Belt region of Nigeria; Acha is more nutritious than Quaker Oats.”
“Cadbury is coming up and I urge Mondelez International, the parent company, not to frequently change the Managing Director; allow him to stay five years instead of two years. This is to enable him to understand the terrain”
We will Surprise the market
In his response to the shareholders demand for new products, the company’s Chairman said: “All the comments about the need for us to expand the business have been noted; new product is a closely guarded secret and we have gotten the feedback but this is not the forum to divulge the new products we are bringing to the market because of those we compete with. We will invest in new products. Know that we are in competition and it is a big mistake to announce to those we are competing with that we are bringing this and that product into the market, rather, we will surprise the market and on the day we would launch the product, we will invite some of you to the event.”
Priorities for 2018
To realize our growth ambitions, we intend to focus on the following strategic areas: Sustain our focus on quality, drive improvements in productivity and reinforce operational efficiencies to maximize our competitive advantage. Drive growth ahead of competition to increase market share within our product categories. Continue to develop an organization of high potential talent and sustain our aggressive Route-to-Market initiatives.
I would like to express sincere gratitude to my colleagues on the Board for their unflinching commitment to the growth of our Company. Also, I express deep appreciation to the Executive Management Team led by Mr. Amir Shamsi, for their steadfastness, which has put our Company back on the track of profitability and growth. My thanks also go to the Employees for their loyalty and dedication to duty. The Regional and Global Leadership Teams of our parent company, Mondelez International, equally deserve commendation for their faith in Cadbury Nigeria, despite the trying times. Finally, my fellow shareholders, I thank you for your support and the continued confidence reposed in our Company.”