Despite uncertainty around Covid and regulatory compliance issues, Ruralco has shown it is more resilient than ever, recording positive financial results for its 2021 financial year.
Ruralco continued to grow its Group Turnover, recording $245.3 million compared to $241.3 million last year. Gross Profit slightly increased to $10.6 million compared to $10.3 million in the previous year, and EBITDA remained constant at $1.2 million. Group Equity at the end of the 2021 financial year was $16.9 million, up from last year’s $16.7 million.
“While it was a year of disruption, Ruralco is more resilient than ever thanks to strong relationships between its businesses, suppliers (both card and retail), its shareholders, staff and board. It is an eco-system of businesses which has served the company well this year,” said Ruralco Chair, Jessie Chan at the 58th Ruralco Annual General Meeting last night.
“While Covid and regulatory compliance issues have continued to create challenges for Ruralco and our wider farming community, 2021 has also been one of the best years for commodity prices for arable and dairy, with market prices also strong for lamb and beef. Fundamentally it has been a very good year income-wise, but it has been one of the worst in terms of the ability to move forward in a positive and confident manner.”
“These issues may still be with us, but they are not holding us back – we have a proven track record of agility and knowledge to keep us moving forward. Adversity does not constrain us in doing business and these challenges have not deterred Ruralco from forging ahead with its planned direction and alignment of its business,” she said.
For the fourth time in a row Ruralco will pay its shareholders a bonus rebate thanks to revenue growth and careful management of expenses.
During the last financial year Ruralco increased its shareholders by 2.4%, with account numbers growing by 6% and card suppliers growing by 7.8%. It has stayed true to its course of increasing market share while also focusing on efficiencies within the business. It was announced at the AGM that the co-operative has just signed up its 4000th shareholder – a significant milestone in the co-operative’s 58 year history.
“We are pleased to have successfully come through this year and to have also continued to grow our shareholder base. There is a level of pride and accomplishment that we have been able to do this in some difficult times,” said Ms Chan.
It’s a sentiment shared by Group CEO, Rob Sharkie who said the cooperative’s differentiation is always its people – its staff, shareholders, suppliers, their families and the farming community. “We recognise we are all in this together and we are one team. We are bold and dare to always do better, we are honest and accountable, and we always go the extra mile, especially in difficult times,” he said.
Retiring Director, Gabrielle Thompson, who has stood down after nine years on the Board was farewelled at last night’s AGM. She was thanked for her dedicated contribution to the Board and her eagerness to constantly look for new and innovative ways to influence direction and success for the co-op. Gabrielle was the first woman elected to the co-op board, which proved to be a milestone for Ruralco and paved the way for greater diversity over recent years.
Three nominations for the Board of Directors were received, with current Director, Kate Acland seeking re-election, along with Andrew Barlass (a Mid Canterbury farmer and independent director) and Rhea Booker (a Mid Canterbury farmer and chartered accounted). Kate Acland and Andrew Barlass were successfully elected to the Board. Both were delighted with the result, saying shareholders had great candidates to choose from and they were both honoured to have been voted in.
Kate, who owns and operates Mt Somers Station with her husband David, and currently sits on the Board of WRONZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, is looking forward to continuing the journey on the Board and seeing projects through to fruition. New Director, Andrew Barlass will bring with him a passion for co-operatives and his extensive governance experience, which includes current director roles with Electricity Ashburton Limited, Ashburton Contracting Limited, Christchurch International Airport Limited and Kowhai Farmlands Limited.