Clicks Group today reported another resilient performance in the year to August 2021 despite the trading disruption from the KwaZulu-Natal civil unrest and the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on consumer shopping behaviour.
Operating profit, adjusted for the impact of the civil unrest, increased by 8.2% to exceed R3 billion for the first time, with diluted headline earnings per share 8.8% higher at 837 cents.
The group declared a total dividend of 490 cents per share.
Cash generated by operations totalled R4.6 billion and in the past year the group returned R2.2 billion to shareholders in dividend payments and share buy-backs. At year end the group held cash resources of R2.2 billion.
Chief executive Vikesh Ramsunder said the group’s defensive business model continued to adapt to the changing market dynamics, with robust turnover growth from Clicks and UPD, market share gains and the continued expansion of the store and pharmacy network.
Group turnover increased by 10.2% to R37.3 billion, with retail health and beauty sales growing by 8.3% and distribution turnover by 12.3%.
Clicks ClubCard active membership increased to 9.2 million, accounting for 80.2% of sales in Clicks, while the Clicks mobile app has been downloaded by 2.3 million customers. ClubCard was again voted the country’s best loyalty programme in the 2021 South African Loyalty Awards.
Clicks opened its 750th store and expanded its retail footprint to 782 with the opening of 39 new stores. A further 36 pharmacies were opened, extending the national pharmacy presence to 621.
The convenience and accessibility of the pharmacy network is highlighted by the fact that 50% of the country’s population now live within 5.5 kilometres of a Clicks pharmacy.
Ramsunder said the convenience of the Clicks pharmacy network has been instrumental in supporting the national Covid-19 vaccination programme. “Clicks has to date administered 1.4 million vaccinations across 525 sites, making it the largest vaccination provider in the private sector.”
The civil unrest in KZN resulted in 53 stores and two distribution centres being looted and damaged. Currently only 8 of the stores remain closed. The group’s South African Special Risks Insurance Association (SASRIA) claim for damages totalled R726 million, with the first interim payment of R217 million having been received.
UPD grew wholesale turnover by 15.1% as the business generated strong growth in sales to private hospital groups during the second and third waves of Covid-19. This contributed to UPD increasing market share from 28.9% to 31.2%. UPD’s total managed turnover, which combines wholesale and bulk distribution, increased by 20.6% to R28.4 billion.
On the outlook for the new financial year, Ramsunder said trading conditions will continue to be constrained in the months ahead.
“However, the relaxation of lockdown restrictions and the acceleration of the national vaccination programme is expected to aid the recovery in the economy. Clicks has the capacity to administer 600 000 vaccinations per month and will continue to play a key role in supporting this national priority,” he said.
Clicks plans to open 25 to 30 new stores and 30 to 35 new pharmacies in the 2022 financial year, in addition to the acquisition of the 25 Pick n Pay pharmacies which was approved by the Competition Commission last month.