On behalf of the Board of Directors (“Board”), I am pleased to present to you the Annual Report of the Company and its subsidiaries (“BESHOM Group” or “Group”) for the financial year ended 30 April 2023 (“FY2023”).
2022 represents the year in which the world began to adapt to living alongside the Coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”). Despite the expectations of a rebound in the global economy with the worst pandemic crisis behind us, the operating environment remains challenging. A volatile international environment, marked by a global energy crisis, heightened geopolitical tensions, slowing global growth, inflation, and higher interest rates has wide-ranging ramifications across economies and social systems, escalating the
global recession risk. These factors to a larger extent, affected the Group’s financial performance as the Group’s business is impacted by consumer confidence.
Nonetheless, at BESHOM, we continue to maintain an unbroken track record of profitability supported by the Group’s solid financial position and we have achieved business continuity despite the challenging operating environment with subdued consumer confidence.
FY2023 was another challenging year and our Group financial performance during this period reflected the challenging trading environment.
Higher operating costs from inflationary pressures and upliftment of rent-waiver period, coupled with softer consumer demand have contributed and impacted the Group’s financial performance in FY2023. Broadly speaking, while we experienced an increase in revenue for the Wholesale and Retail segments, earnings declined across all business segments in FY2023, with the Multi-Level-Marketing (“MLM”) segment being the hardest hit.
Overall, the Group recorded lower revenue of RM174.2 million (FY2022: RM209.6 million) and profit before taxation (“PBT”) of RM24.3 million for FY2023 (FY2022: RM40.3 million), representing a decrease of 16.9% and 39.7% respectively. The MLM segment, which is the Group’s major contributor to both topline and earnings, particularly felt the impact of persistent inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes and the weakening of the Ringgit (“RM”) currency. These factors have affected consumers’ ability and willingness to spend. As the business environment becomes more challenging, we also experienced a decrease in our distributor base in FY2023, which had an adverse impact on revenue. We believe that the interest rate hikes and tightening of credit by banks are the two major factors contributing to the shrinkage of our distribution base.
Both the Wholesale and Retail segments benefitted from the normalisation of economic activities post COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in improved revenue compared to FY2022. However, the PBT contributed by these segments was lower in FY2023 due to inflationary pressures resulting in high operating costs, that were difficult to pass on to consumers who were already experiencing weakening purchasing power.
A detailed discussion and analysis of the performance of each business segment is provided in the Management Discussion and Analysis report by our Group Managing Director.
Turning to our balance sheet, we were cautious in allocating capital to growth investments. While impacted by COVID‑19 related effects on earnings and more recently by a global economic slowdown, our equity attributable to equity holders of the parent as at 30 April 2023 remained strong and stood at RM309.7 million (FY2022: RM317.1 million) after factoring in the final dividend of RM15.0 million for FY2022 and an interim dividend of RM9.0 million for FY2023. Accordingly, the net asset per share was RM1.03 as at 30 April 2023, compared to RM1.06 as at 30 April 2022.
As of the close of the financial year, the Group held cash in the form of cash and cash equivalents amounting to RM95.6 million (FY2022: RM117.3 million) and we do not have any bank borrowings. This allows us to maintain significant balance sheet flexibility, supporting continued investment activity across the Group and providing us with the capacity to manage risks and opportunities under a range of economic scenarios, especially in an environment where we continue to see the possibility of more interest rate hikes. Our net cash position gives us the capacity to access additional liquidity should we require it and significant headroom to accommodate adverse changes in the general macro environment or business performance.
While financial performance and the payment of healthy dividends are important, the main focus of the Board and management is on long-term shareholder returns. That has been the focus since our public listing on the then Second Board of Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in December 1996.
Given the current financial year’s results and the Group’s cash position, the Board has declared / proposed 2 tranches of dividend payments in respect of FY2023. An interim single-tier dividend of 3 sen per share amounting to RM9,003,097 was paid on 16 March 2023, while the proposed final single tier dividend of 2 sen per share for FY2023, is subject to the shareholders’ approval at the forthcoming annual general meeting. This takes the total dividend payout to 5 sen per share for FY2023 (FY2022: 8 sen per share). We have maintained a dividend distribution policy with a payout ratio of not less than 50% of the Group’s PAT. The total dividend of 5 sen for FY2023, represents a payout ratio of 89% for FY2023, significantly surpassing our policy of paying out 50% of the Group’s PAT, which the Board considered was appropriate in the current environment.
While Malaysia’s economic growth exceeded its pre-pandemic level in 2022, the economy is expected to face headwinds in the coming year, particularly from global developments. Conditions will continue to evolve and uncertainties remain surrounding global growth and global financial markets amid monetary policy tightening in major economies and recent banking sector issues, geopolitical conflicts and supply chain disruptions. (Source: Bank Negara Malaysia Annual Report 2022).
In line with the recent global economic forecast by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, Malaysia Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is expected to moderate in 2023 due to slower external demand resulting from weakening global trade. Geopolitical tensions, elevated price pressures and tighter financial conditions will also continue to affect the world economic outlook. Despite these global economic challenges and uncertainties, the Government is confident of achieving a growth forecast of 4.0% – 5.0% for 2023, supported by Malaysia’s strong economic fundamentals and implementation of Belanjawan 2023 measures. (Source: Press release by Ministry of Finance dated 12 May 2023).
We expect that the business environment in the coming year to remain challenging as we continue to face risks from increasing geopolitical conflict, escalating inflation rates and tighter financial conditions, which inevitably affect the real purchasing power of consumers and their spending confidence. We are also conscious of the challenges of inflation and its pressure on our customers’ cost of living. We know value remains more important than ever, and we need to continue to look at every opportunity to rebrand and roll out new products to remain competitive.
To navigate this situation, our foremost focus in business will be the right calibration between product mix, pricing, and distribution. On the operation front, we remained focused on driving operations excellence to provide greater efficiency for a more connected consumer buying experience and greater cost savings for sustainable financial growth. While we have become more agile, supply chain challenges and higher inflationary pressures will remain a reality. We remain watchful, but the Group’s established position in the market and well-earned reputation as a reliable supplier of health products will take us to another profitable financial year in 2024.
We would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Tan Kim Siong, who has stepped down as an Independent Non-Executive Director, for his invaluable contributions to the Group during his tenure as a member of the Board. Mr. Tan’s resignation is in line with BESHOM’s policy, as outlined in the Board Charter, which limits the tenure of an Independent Director to a term of 9 years without further extension. Since he became a member of the Board, Mr. Tan has served in several capacities on the Board committees, including being a member of the Audit Committee and Nominating Committee. The Group has benefited greatly from his insights over the years.
We welcomed Madam Tay Bee Koo, who joined the Group as an Independent Non-Executive Director on 6 April 2023. Madam Tay brings with her more than 30 years of experience in the retail industry and her experience, particularly in sales and business strategies, will provide market intuitions to the Group, which constantly needs to reimagine the way we serve customers to cater to evolving consumer buying patterns. Madam Tay Bee Koo currently holds positions as the Immediate Past President of the
Malaysia Retail Chain Association, the Chairperson of the Commerce Committee of The Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commerce Committee (National Council Member) of The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia and the Industry Advisory Council of the Department of Polytechnic and Community College Education, Ministry of Higher Learning. Madam Tay’s appointment will provide the Group with further diversity in terms of both gender, core competencies and skillsets of the Board.
The Board regularly considers environmental and social matters, given their importance to our stakeholders and the Group’s long-term performance. At BESHOM Group, we remain fully committed and strive to deliver excellence and sustainable value for all our stakeholders. We adopt a robust and holistic approach to positive environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors integrated across our business while managing our risks. Since the last financial year, we embarked on a Solar Energy project. We recognise that energy consumption is a key sustainable development criterion that warrants our attention due to its direct link to the fixed or variable costs of our business, as well as its contribution to saving our planet.
The Solar Energy project, which involves the installation of solar photovoltaic panels at the Group’s main premises in Klang, Selangor, has been successfully commissioned, effective June 2023. With the commissioning of solar energy in the Group’s main premises, we expect to benefit from a reduction in electricity bills, a decrease in ambient temperature, and a lower carbon footprint.
Our ongoing efforts related to sustainability are shared in the Group’s Sustainability Statement, first published in August 2018 and updated annually. The Group’s sustainability progress on material matters is further detailed in the Sustainability Statement 2023.
I want to recognise the efforts of the entire BESHOM family over the past year. Across the Group, our people have shown incredible resilience and professionalism as we navigated the impacts of a challenging business environment and economic conditions. I would like to thank the Board, executives, and employees for their steadfast commitment to journeying with the Group and being adaptable to the dynamic situation to the best of their abilities. I am confident that we will get through this trying period together and look forward to carrying out our promise of delivering sustainable value to all our stakeholders.
Ng Chek Yong