May 2014 – Luxury ecotourism pioneer, Wilderness Holdings Limited, has released its results for the year ended 28 February 2014 and announced a cash dividend of 10 thebe per share – an increase of 250%.
“We are pleased to report our results for the 2014 financial year, which represent our best trading performance to date. This lays the foundation for future growth both within and beyond the Group’s current geographic footprint, enabling us to increase our ecotourism contribution to create further conservation economies in Africa”, says Ami Azoulay, Chief Financial Officer.
“Our positive performance over the past year has shown a 16% increase in revenue due to a higher occupancy rate of 62%, up from 56%, and increased partner product sales. This contributed to an improvement in EBITDA of 39% to BWP151 million and 75% increase in profit after tax to BWP48 million. We have built up significant cash resources and have low levels of debt, resulting in a very healthy balance sheet”, he added.
Listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Africa Board in 2010, the Group owns and operates more than 60 luxury safari camps in nine African countries, mainly marketed and operated under the well-known and highly-respected Wilderness Safaris and Wilderness Collection brands. In most countries, the camps are serviced by Wilderness Air, which owns 42 aircraft. Between the various operations, Wilderness Holdings is proud to employ over 2 000 people.
Despite a greater investment in camp maintenance, marketing and sales, technology and doubling of the share-based payments charge to BWP6 million, operating costs increased by an acceptable 8%, with all geographical segments recording an improved operational performance. “This is in line with one of our focus areas to continue investing in our camps to enhance the guest experience and ensure that the Group retains its luxury rating”, says Azoulay.
In this regard, various international accolades for excellence have been achieved this past year, with the most significant being the Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Award for Wildlife Conservation, as well as numerous awards for the company’s annual Integrated Report. Mombo and Little Mombo Camps in Botswana’s Okavango Delta were also ranked number one in the world in the US Travel + Leisure 2013 World’s Best Awards.
Nearly BWP81 million was reinvested in capital expenditure, including camp assets, technology and new camps. Two new camps under the Wilderness Safaris Explorations brand were opened, and the construction of Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp approved, opening in Namibia in August 2014. Cash available has increased by 80% to BWP251 million, notwithstanding a decrease in average interest-bearing debt of 7% with an overall improvement in working capital.
Looking ahead, the Group expects to remain focused on consolidation and organic growth, which is expected to continue on the back of the stronger US market and an improvement in the European market. “Various opportunities for expansion both within the current geographic footprint of the Group and beyond into other regions of Africa have been identified and several plans are being considered. The market outlook on tourism in southern Africa is extremely positive and the Board is optimistic about the future. We would like to thank our staff for their outstanding efforts in achieving this record set of results.”
Click here for the audited abridged Group financial results.