I had hoped to say a few words at our luncheon on Friday – but with the noise and the environment I didn’t believe I’d be able to convey my message across appropriately and so decided that I’d rather share this note with you…
2017 has been a tough year for many businesses in South Africa. The ongoing political uncertainties, high unemployment and low growth rates have continued to place consumers under more and more pressure. We’ve seen that we should never take anything for granted as evidenced by the water crisis in the Western Cape and more recently, the catastrophic destruction in shareholder value this week as was experienced by the many South African shareholders who held Steinhoff shares. Many unsuspecting South African’s retirement savings, long term investments and dreams may have been shattered.
Against this bleak backdrop, I am so privileged to say that we can consider ourselves to be outliers, having managed to buck the trend and show strong, solid growth within our group. I am so proud of what we have achieved together and the efforts and exceptional performances of many of you.
Theodore Isaac Rubin once said, “Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” Thank you for giving of your best.
The Sportingbet team has more than doubled in size and continues to break record after record. A highlight for the year was the McGregor versus Mayweather fight where the team rallied together to make sure we didn’t miss a single signup. They continue to work extremely hard to prove that we are not only the world’s leading betting product but that we also offer a localized customer support team that is best-in-class and rivals those of any industry. 2018 will see further exciting developments as we migrate systems as well as with the launch of a new web and mobile product. We will also be introducing at least one new brand into Africa.
HNA operates in an extremely tough market where globally golf is on the decline. Despite this the team still managed to show positive growth thanks to some tough cost control, effective collecting of debtors, sound operations and chasing sponsorship and advertising revenues. We’ve continued to build on our relationship with Golf RSA and believe we are moving closer and closer to the launch of a new product which could potentially double the business.
The Toy Kingdom team under new leadership showed us that they have what it takes to really make things happen when it counts. Six store openings in just a few short weeks, leading into December is some mean feat. I sincerely thank you for rallying together and am so excited about the business that you are creating for the future. We will be Africa’s most loved Toy Store.
Henry Ford said it so well when he shared that “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business”. I’m really happy that we have been able to grow our teams, open stores, create more employment, exceed customer expectations and contribute towards making South Africa a better place particularly while other businesses are shutting down, reducing staff and salaries. Let’s continue this into 2018 while we focus on our customers. After all, a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.
At a group level we have some exciting developments, the detail of which is unfortunately still too early to share. We are in the final negotiations to acquire an exciting new business in the FMCG sector and we are also exploring a number of other opportunities. Our focus is on building quality businesses, this takes patience but has proven worthwhile.
To each and every one of you again, thank you for your individual and collective efforts. I look forward to another successful year and wish you and your families all the best over the festive break.