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Owens Builds Platform For Growth


Result For The Year Ended 31 March 2001

Owens Builds Platform For Growth

Mr Norman Geary, the Chairman of the Owens Group, today announced a turnaround in the Company’s results with a net profit after tax of $4.6 million for the twelve months ended 31 March 2001.

Details of the result are:

- Sales revenue for the period was $383.3 million. This represents a 9.7% increase on the previous year of $349.5 million.

- Sales revenue in New Zealand totalled $240.3 million and was 10.1% ahead of the previous year. Sales revenue in Australia at $143.0 million was 9.1% up on the comparable period in 1999/00.

- The Group net profit (or net surplus) after tax and minority interests was $4.6 million compared with $0.3 million in 1999/00. The previous year’s result reflected the significant restructuring of Owens Ships Agency business in Australia and Owens Cooltainers.

- The operating surplus before tax and abnormals in New Zealand at $6.3 million was 15.7% ahead of the previous year with the comparable result in Australia $1.6 million up 47.2%.

- An outstanding performer for the Group was Owens Refrigerated Freight which improved dramatically, in line with expectations, following a major restructuring in the previous year.

- Staff numbers increased in the financial year by 171, mainly as a result of a freight forwarding business acquisition in March 2001.

In tabular form the results are as follows:

2000/01 1999/00 % change

- Sales Revenue $383.3m $349.5m +9.7%

- Operating Surplus after

Tax & Minorities $4.9m



- Abnormal items after tax $(0.3m) $(3.6m)

- Result for the year $4.6m $0.3m +1568.1%

The Directors have declared a fully imputed final dividend of 3.0 cents per share for the 2000/01 year payable on 24 July 2001. The share register closes for the calculation of the dividend entitlements at 5.00pm on 13 July 2001 and reopens on 16 July 2001.

In commenting on the results, Norman Geary said “Given the difficult and mixed economic conditions that prevailed in both New Zealand and Australia during the latter part of the financial year, the final result is satisfactory. The Company has improved sales and profits in a difficult period for the transport industry where input costs such as diesel fuel have increased significantly, imports have reduced in volume terms because of the weak Australian and New Zealand dollars compared to trading partners and the overall growth rate of economic activity has reduced.”

Norman Geary said “Our strategy of building business through a strong focus on customer service and aggressive revenue growth is beginning to produce results. To grow revenues within Australia by just under 10% in a sluggish economy and a highly competitive environment is encouraging, as is the improvement in profits in both markets.

The broadly based nature of our activities which encompasses road transport, freight forwarding, ships agencies, container services and hire equipment effectively spreads the Company’s risks. “We are not a narrowly based road transport operator,” Norman Geary added.

Commenting on individual business groupings Norman Geary said “Owens Refrigerated Freight was the most improved performer with Hirepool, Freight Forwarding in New Zealand, Owens Tankers and Ships Agencies, all performing well. Container Services and Freight Forwarding in Australia experienced difficulties partly due to the low level of imports into both countries. Owens Transport in both countries improved as the year progressed.”

During the year the Group acquired businesses to complement existing activities. These included:

- The rural transport operations of Waitaki Transport (September 2000).

- Pitstop Refrigeration in Adelaide - an adjunct to Owens refrigerated container repair services (October 2000).

- AFL Freight Management in Queensland, a significant freight forwarding and logistics business, and Pacific Container Line in PNG, a ships agency business, (March 2001).

- Increased shareholding (to 80%) and expansion of the facilities of Owens Premier in Los Angeles.

Additionally the Group approved the upgrading and expansion of facilities for a number of business units including:

- A new Hirepool branch in Hamilton and upgraded facilities for Hirepool East Tamaki and Manukau.

- New transport and warehousing facilities in Hamilton.

- New container services and transport facilities in Brisbane.

- New container pack/unpack facilities in Sydney.

- New customised airfreight facilities adjoining Melbourne Airport.

Further, the Company has initiated restructuring projects in Australia to rationalise group operations in Sydney and Brisbane as well as selling Mortons Transport near Newcastle. The benefits from these projects, together with most facilities upgrades, are now coming into full effect and will produce financial benefits in this year and beyond.

The Company has chosen to report this year in accordance with new financial reporting standards which will become mandatory later in the year.

Mr Geary said that work on the appointment of a new Chief Executive was progressing well with good prospects of making an announcement in a month or so.

As for the outlook, Mr Geary commented it is difficult to forecast accurately, given the state of the economies in the USA and Japan. In particular Mr Geary said “We cannot rule out a significant deterioration in global economic conditions.” He added “The Owens Group had made good progress in building a sound platform for revenue growth, operational efficiencies. In recent times we have been more effective in converting a fundamental strength we have of maximising our Group leverage to gain business whilst providing customers with total logistics solutions. We are well placed for future growth. Barring a significant economic downturn the Board expects the Group to make further significant progress during the year.”

¡K End of Release ¡K

For further information please phone: Mr Norman Geary

Executive Chairman

Ph: Bus (09) 5804209, or

This release is authorised by Mr GNL Simpson, Company Secretary, Owens Group Limited.

GNL Simpson

1 June 2001

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