Unilever Nigeria Plc has assured its shareholders that management has put in place strategies to enhance sustainable growth and deliver better returns to shareholders in future.
Speaking at the company’s 86th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos on Tuesday, the Chairman of the company, Apostle Hayford Alile explained that the company has been recording losses for the past five years, noting that it has returned to profitability due to concerted efforts put together by the management to identify the causes of the problem.
According to him, “ About 5years ago, we have problem of losses and gradually we have to look at what were the causes of these problems and when we identified them, we started working at them and for the last 3years we have been paying dividend consistently.
“We realised that the cost of doing business here is so high and we have to work down on the cost to make sure that consumers and customers make profit themselves and that they are not forced to pay higher price and with that, more consumers came into the patronage of the company.”
Alile told shareholders that the company faced enormous challenges during the year under review due to massive investment embarked upon by the company to achieve sustainable growth., stressing that the measures taken to reduce cost has positively impacted on the company’s first quarter performance.
Alile explained further that the company posted a turnover of N46.807 billion in its 2010 operations, against N44.481 billion recorded in 2009, while profit before tax stood at N6.151 billion compared with N5.661 billion in 2009.
The company’s Profit After Tax (PAT) also increased to N4.2billion, from N4.094 recorded in 2009.
He added that the company subscribed to highest standards of corporate governance as it embraced transparency in its dealings, fair in competition and law abiding.
“In a challenging operating environment like Nigeria, the company remains a pride in the area of corporate governance by strictly adhering to Unilever’s global code of business principles. The company is also a socially responsible and responsive organisation that takes strategic actions for the improvement of Nigerian communities” he noted
Meanwhile, shareholders approved for payment, N1.10 per share as dividend for 2010 as against last year’s N1.08.
Alile, who stepped down as Chairman after the end of his tenure, said despite the fact that 2010 was a difficult year for most businesses the world over and though Unilever was not spared from the adverse impact of the economic environment, be it locally or globally, the company’s fundamentals held strong in the face of continued difficult business operating environment.
He said their pricing strategy throughout 2010 was deliberately intended to cushion their customers from the effects of declining purchasing power, especially from the impact of fuel deregulation, which meant their customers had to dig deeper into their pockets to sustain consumption of basic necessities.