Ariston profit for first half nearly double that for last year

Horticultural group, Ariston Holdings, made double the profit it made for the entire year ending September last year in the first six months of its current financial year. It made a net profit of $2.39 billion compared with that of $1.21 billion last year. Its profit for the first half of last year was $234.3 million.

Sales also almost doubled from $5.5 billion for the year ending September to $9.4 billion for the six months to March. Sales for the first half of last year were $1.6 billion. The company says the operations of all flower divisions were exceptional during the period.

Strong export prices and improved margins saw record contributions to group profit. International tea prices firmed in hard currency terms, but volumes were disappointing. Climatic conditions and scarcity of labour constrained production. Demand for decaffeinated tea remained strong. Airfreight was necessary to meet demand.

Fruit production and export prices both improved substantially. A higher proportion of the crop met export standards and resulted in improved returns. Macadamia production increased and firmer world prices made the crop a meaningful contributor to revenue.

The group says it is pursuing an aggressive development policy and is opening new areas for flowers and improving existing structures. Over 1 500 new farmers have been contracted as outgrowers under an arrangement with the government and Trust Bank. Ariston will provide plant material, extension services and processing and marketing facilities.

The company says it disposed of its non-core Tetrad financial services group and acquired the assets and operations of Favco, a division of its associate, Katope. It is planning a new EPZ frozen vegetable project for export under contract to supermarket chains.

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