Food on an elegant plate
But will Joffe sell?
BIDS FOR BIDVEST’S Foodservice business has the market and shareholders excited. At R163/share the price is the highest it’s been for more than three years. But if Bidvest sells, do shareholders know what it will do to the structure of the group? Essentially, it will remove the potential high growth core of the business, leaving Bidvest looking like a very different animal in the future.
Group CE Brian Joffe couldn’t be contacted; he’s overseas on holiday. Skipping out of the country for a while might have been a good strategy as questions fly. Bidvest is also under a cautionary and in a closed period, so it’s unlikely he could have had much to say.
At the interim period Bidvest Foodservice saw revenue and trading profit decline, something Joffe put down to the earlier extreme weather in Europe and Britain. “When the weather is bad, people don’t go out to restaurants – you can’t sell ice cream,” he told us then. And indeed, when Premier Division football matches in England are cancelled due to rain or snow, the weather must be bad.
But Joffe was upbeat about prospects for Foodservice in the second half of its financial year, particularly in the high growth markets in Asia Pacific, where he’s built up an attractive chain of food assets. It’s hard to believe he’d consider selling what’s become the core of the business but he’s clearly taking the “unsolicited bids” seriously, setting up a sub-committee to consider if the offers would provide value to shareholders.
Even after the decline at its interim, Foodservice provided the biggest number in the accounts. Revenue came in at R29,2bn and trading profit at R956,2m. Taking that out will leave a hole in the financials – but even more importantly in prospects for