EXPOLANKA HOLDINGS PLC - ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 2020 - Key Highlights
Deep-rooted Corporate values keep us grounded as we at Expolanka Holdings PLC move forward in our journey of excellence. We are keen not to just rest on our laurels but continue to improve and challenge ourselves to do better, year after year, so that we remain connected to current trends and vibes. Rooted and Connected, we are focused on Expansion and Profitability in a sustainable and efficient manner. Integrating Technology and efficient processes in to our operations, we have been able to positively elevate our business both at home and overseas. Our journey of growth will be supported by the strength and support of our customer, employees and business partners.
Who We Are Expolanka Holdings PLC is headquartered in Sri Lanka with interests in global logistics, travel & leisure and investments. The Group’s reputation is built on a track record spanning over 40 years of excellence in serving its chosen markets. Moreover, Expolanka Companies are widely regarded as game changers known for their ability to seize potential opportunities for growth and innovation and thereby remain a cut above the rest.
With a strong regional presence and a rapidly expanding global footprint encompassing 60 + locations in 23 countries, EFL remains one of the region’s fastest growing logistics service providers. Expolanka’s global expansion strategy has enabled the creation of significant economic value due to increased trade activity, the provision of over 2,925 direct jobs globally, as well as support for countless other indirect employment opportunities across the logistics value chain. Going forward, EFL’s global expansion strategy would focus on enhancing both physical and technological infrastructure that will expedite its transformation into a fully integrated fourthparty (4PL) logistics services provider with the capacity to service the needs of the next generation of global businesses.
Page 08 (CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE) -
We will focus on supporting our core businesses to make sure they are geared to serve their chosen markets. In doing so we will look to exercise greater attention in implementing our expansion plans to ensure we invest strategically in areas that present strong opportunities for growth.
I take great pleasure in presenting the Annual Report and Financial statements of Expolanka Holdings PLC for the financial year ending 31st March 2020, a year in which we were able to make excellent headway in our expansion initiatives whilst we were also able to further consolidate our operations. As a resilient, nimble and agile organisation, the Group was able to produce satisfactory results amidst the challenges in our immediate environment. The key to our continued progress is the market positioning & value creation that we make for our business partners across each of our business’ operations. Our core freight business - EFL, which is now present in almost all key international trade routes, continued to carve out a niche as a highly sought-after bespoke freight operator in the world. This gives me a reason to believe that we are on the right track with our expansion strategy to increase EFL’s global presence based on the potential evident in each region. I am pleased to see that in our leisure sector too, the Classic brand continues to hold its position as the market leader in the corporate travel market, which again validates our decision to focus extensively on this niche space.
GOVERNANCE AND STEWARDSHIP We continue to operate on the premise that good corporate governance is integral to the delivery of our strategy and creating sustainable long-term value for the benefit of the Group’s various stakeholders. The Board is committed to maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance at every level across the entire organisation. While the Board remains firmly committed to continually review and update its governance frameworks as part of its ongoing improvement program, our most recent assessment did not indicate the need for any fundamental changes to governance and oversight frameworks in any of our businesses in the current financial year. Meanwhile, SG Holdings Global Pte Ltd - the Group’s Japan-based parent also has a stringent, detailed and rigorous governance framework which is on par with the requirements of a listed Company in Japan. It is the stated objective of the Expolanka Group to emulate, implement and follow the best standards and best practices which is implemented across SG Holdings Global Pte. Ltd, with relevance to our business operations. Specifically, we have voluntarily implemented the internal control mechanisms and financial reporting principles promulgated under Japan’s Financial instruments and exchange act which further affirms the integrity, transparency and credibility of all Expolanka Group financial disclosures. SUSTAINABILITY BEST PRACTICES Sustainability goes hand in hand with our strategy and long-term commercial success. Our sustainability approach focuses on the most material issues for our business - the aspects that underpin our decisionmaking processes and drive every actionable initiative that we undertake. In recent years, our efforts have been further guided by the Group’s commitment to the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG’s). In fact, we have now come to view the SDG’s as a point of reference to continually reassess the way we manage our business, locally and globally and plays a key part in our overall strategy development framework. Premised on this, we have adopted a multi-pronged strategy to realign our business models to globally accepted management best practices. We are also increasing our investment in innovation and technology and looking to collaborate with our stakeholders to improve economic, social and environmental outcomes for our various businesses as well as the wider community. An area we are particularly passionate about is the promotion of diversity and inclusion. It is ingrained in our DNA and cascades through into our work ethic. Given our global footprint, we have begun actively working to promote diversity and inclusion at every level, with special emphasis on improving the Group-wide gender balance. Reducing our emissions is another priority. In this regard, several of our key businesses have already taken action to transform their traditional work methods through digital mediums. Meanwhile, our freight sector recently adopted the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) Framework, a globally accepted standard which enables logistics businesses to calculate and report their emissions across their multi-modal supply chain. Stemming from this, we have now started forging partnerships to create positive impact through our activities and supply chains. In the current financial year, the Group also took some notable action to advance its commitment to the SDG’s, specifically Clean Water and Sanitation. In July 2019 we launched the first phase of the EFL Global Goodness Project, an ambitious initiative aimed at providing access to clean drinking water to underprivileged communities in Country’s where the Group is present. We also launched a long- term initiative in support of Life on Land by undertaking to increase the forest cover within the Bundala National Park (Sri-Lanka) as part of the biodiversity restoration programme launched by the Department of Wildlife. Our commitment is to plant 25,000 trees annually over the next five years, which we hope will help to restore the biodiversity and natural habitats destroyed by two invasive alien plant species that have overrun almost 600 acres of park land since 2018.
OUTLOOK AND PROSPECTS Looking to the future, I expect the Group strategy to remain largely consistent. We will focus on supporting our core businesses to make sure they are geared to serve their chosen markets. In doing so we will look to exercise greater attention in implementing our expansion plans to ensure we invest strategically in areas that present strong opportunities for growth. At the same time, it is vital that we improve the Group’s readiness to face what would be the “new normal” in the post-COVID era. I am confident that the work we have put in over the years will solidify our position in our respective markets and give the Group a firm footing from which to tackle the challenges going forward. BOARD CHANGES Three Directors; Mr. Yoshifumi Matsubara who served as an Executive, Non-Independent Director and Mr. Motonori Matsuzono who served in the capacity of a Non-Executive, Non-Independent Director and myself as the Chairman of the Expolanka Group, stepped down from the Expolanka Group Board with effect from 30 June 2020. I thank my two colleagues for their loyal service to the Group and wish them well in their future endeavours. The three vacancies thus created were filled by Mr. Hitoshi Kanahori, Mr. Ha Yo and Mr. Akira Oyama, all of whom were appointed to the Expolanka Group Board as Directors with effect from 01 July 2020. I take this opportunity to welcome them all to the Board.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS During my tenure on the Board, the Group’s profile changed rapidly and is on a sustainable platform with the ability to expand and grow in value along with the Board leading the charge. As I come to the end of my 3-year tenure as Chairman of the Expolanka Group, I wish to extend my appreciation to my fellow Directors on the Expolanka Holdings PLC Board for dedicating their time and expertise over the years. There can be no doubt that it is their continuous drive and application of their business acumen that has enabled the Group to remain successful. I also wish to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Hitoshi Kanahori to whom I will be handing over the reins as Chairman with effect from 01 July 2020. I take this opportunity to also acknowledge our 2,900+ employees across the world for their diligence and exceptional commitment towards the Group. I am deeply honoured to have been a part of your team for the past 6 years. Finally, to our clients and shareholders, thank you for your ongoing support. It was our pleasure and privilege to serve you. We look forward to working together and forging mutually beneficial and long-term relationships with you as we move ahead with our plans for the future. Sincerely - Naosuke Kawasaki Chairman
Page 11 (GROUP CEO’S REVIEW)
A focused customer acquisition strategy followed by the Group continued to produce excellent results enabling us to increase our reach in existing markets as well as break into new customer verticals.
Dear Stakeholders, As we look back at the Financial Year 2019/20, an year which has been challenging for the most part, I’m happy to state that Expolanka Holdings PLC continued to make steady progress in our business operations. I believe these results, are a testament to the strength and stability of the Group’s core foundations, the resilience of its people and the focus and attention directed towards achieving its strategy. Globally we witnessed a marked slowdown in trade activity throughout 2019 as the anticipated pickup failed to materialize amidst the escalation in US-China trade tensions. Sri Lanka had its own set of challenges as the economy experienced a significant short term impact from the unfortunate events on Easter Sunday. We concluded the financial year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with no visibility in sight on the socio-economic consequences for the foreseeable future.
BUSINESS REVEIW The Group’s core logistics business, under the flagship EFL brand, registered promising results in the year under review. At a time when the global freight industry came under pressure due to an extended period of volume contraction, EFL’s global volumes remained stable during the year. Reviewing the trade lane performance, the Group continued to see encouraging progress on the Trans Pacific Trade lane whilst maintaining its position in the Indian Sub-Continent operations. The Far East operations too performed satisfactorily during the year, despite all the challenges. Our relentless focus on optimizing customer performance enabled us to retain our market positions. A focused customer acquisition strategy followed by the Group continued to produce excellent results enabling us to increase our reach in existing markets as well as break into new customer verticals. We were able to secure several new strategic customers gaining traction in the technology, automotive, pharmaceutical and perishable verticals. We were able to leverage on EFL’s strong ground presence in East Asia to tap into the higher cargo flows originating from regional economies which appeared to be benefitting from the strained US-China trade relations.
Meanwhile in the midst of yield volatility caused by price fluctuations and capacity challenges in the global freight industry, we mobilized to consolidate EFL’s air freight operations, while applying yield management strategies to safeguard margins in the sea freight operation. Reinforced by these efforts, the Logistics sector recorded a 7% year-on-year increase in gross profits and ended the year with a operating profits (excluding legal settlement expenses) of Rs. 2.2 billion excluding the one-time legal settlement and relevant fees thereon. One of the key developments during the year was the decision the Group took to resolve the legal dispute with RCS Logistics, where a full and final payment of USD 6.75 million was made without the acceptance of any liability. This decision was taken with a view to enable EFL to focus on its core business operations, expansion initiatives and expedite the implementation of the company’s key strategic objectives. Taking steps to expand EFL’s global reach, new operations were set up in Denmark and a strategic acquisition was made in Belgium, adding considerable boost to our bandwidth in the European region. EFL was also established an operation in Taiwan, which has enabled the company to optimize its presence in the East Asia market and take advantage of the opportunities in the vibrant and growth-oriented region. The market expansion initiatives were undertaken after careful consideration in order to implement our strategic initiatives accordingly. The Group also made headway in the implementation of our planned digitization initiatives for the logistics sector, where we completed the implementation of the ERP platform across the network. We are now looking to leverage on the ERP platform to drive greater efficiency across our global logistics management model. The Group’s leisure sector too performed satisfactorily in 2019/20. The Corporate travel segment, which accounts for a larger portion of the leisure sector operation performed as per expectations despite increasing competitive pressure. However, the leisure sector was unable to overcome negative headwinds in its Inbound and Vacation segments. Both segments suffered due to the slowdown in tourist arrivals after the Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019. The closure of the airport following the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 also had a bearing on inbound travel in the last few weeks of the financial year. The strategy for the Group’s Investment sector in 2019/20 was much the same as in the last few years. Continuous reassessment of the sector portfolio was carried out with the aim of driving operational and cost efficiencies for the sector’s key business segments - the Group’s export operations and ITX 360, the Group’s IT arm.
SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES Having made a commitment to the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG’s) in 2018, we made some important strides in advancing our sustainability agenda in the year under review. We launched several major projects under the Global Goodness initiative. Some of them are long-term undertakings which will underpin the Group’s contribution to Clean Water and Sanitation, and the ‘Revive Bundala Project’ which is a significant step in our efforts to support Life on Land. CURRENT OPERATING CLIMATE The fight against COVID-19 has also presented EFL with an opportunity to move higher volumes of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) cargo. Furthermore, the fact that EFL was able to offer an uninterrupted service to all customers despite COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, will no doubt hold the company in a good position as we continue to focus on reinforcing our key markets around the world and optimize business operations by diversifying into different verticals and markets. The negative impact to the Group was greatly mitigated by continuing to be nimble and agile and pursuing available opportunities aggressively. In addition, the Group also undertook several short-term cost containment initiatives which further enabled the organization to overcome the challenges posed. With the COVID-19 pandemic still evolving, it is difficult to predict the impact on the leisure sector. I am hopeful however that if the travel bans and other restrictions are lifted in the coming months, it will help the Corporate travel segment to normalize by early 2021. In the Group’s investment sector, specifically the export operation continued to function in a volatile operating environment due to lockdown restrictions which were stringent in its key export markets. Our focus here has been to improve liquidity and manage costs.
Expolanka Group will continue to stay agile managing the potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on our global and local business operations, while continuing to serve all our customers in the most efficient and effective manner. Our priorities will be to maintain the health & safety of all our employees, while strengthening the core business.
MOVING AHEAD As we enter the new Financial Year with expected easing of lockdown restrictions in each of our global locations we will align our operations in the most efficient, effective and agile manner to provide services to our customers and business partners. APPRECIATIONS I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Chairman and the Board of Directors of Expolanka Holdings PLC for their unfailing support and guidance at all times. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing Chairman, Mr. Naosuke Kawasaki, who has been at the helm for the past 3 years. His support has been a source of strength to us all these past few years. A warm welcome to our incoming Chairman, Mr. Hitoshi Kanahori, who will lead the Expolanka Group Board from 01 July 2020. Let me also place on record my appreciation for services rendered by Mr. Yoshifumi Matsubara and Mr. Motonori Matsuzono, who resigned from the Board from 30 June 2020. I wish to welcome Mr. Ha Yo and Mr. Akira Oyama who will join the Board from 01 July 2020. My sincere appreciation goes to our parent, SG Holdings Global Pte Ltd, for their steadfast support over the years. The commitment they have shown towards the Expolanka Group continues to inspire us to reach for new heights in the years to come. I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Expolanka team around the world for their commitment and dedication at all times. My heartfelt gratitude also goes to our shareholders. I am immensely grateful for your continued support and confidence. Finally, I wish to thank the customers, business partners and other stakeholders of the Group for their continued patronage. I look forward to your support in the coming years as well. Hanif Yusoof - Group CEO
Page 25 (LOGISTICS SECTOR)
EFL’s footprint has expanded rapidly across the Indian subcontinent over the past decade, making EFL one of the fastest growing logistics operators in South Asia. Since 2015, EFL has been on an accelerated growth trajectory to increase its global bandwidth. Today EFL footprint extends to 23 Countries where 60+ origin stations offer trade connectivity across all major global lanes allowing consumer markets in the US and Europe to seamlessly connect to manufacturing centres in Asia, Africa and the Middle- Eastern regions. As a global organisation, EFL’s operations are responsible for providing direct employment to 2,417 people around the world, while contributing indirectly towards the livelihood of thousands more across the logistics value chain.
FREIGHT OPERATION EFL continued its positive growth trend recording a stable and resilient performance across all its business verticals, in a particularly challenging year for the global freight industry. This was a result of EFL adopting and pursuing a consistent strategy with focused initiatives and executing clear plans, particularly in relevance to its investments in USA, which is now starting to generate desired returns for the Group. An unusually volatile external environment posed challenges to the overall freight forwarding industry in 2019/20. The key factors include Trade disruptions due to US-China trade tensions which impacted cargo movements causing widespread market uncertainty. Muted GDP growth in manufacturing-intensive economies, ambiguity surrounding BREXIT and the COVID-19 outbreak in February/March 2020 also further contributed towards the volatility. In this backdrop global freight volumes contracted notably, raising concerns regarding excess capacity in both ocean and air fright segments. As a direct consequence of the drop in global volumes, Air Freight rates saw a decline right throughout the year. EFL too was impacted by these challenges. Nonetheless, quick action taken to optimise the performance of both air and sea freight operations allowed EFL to safeguard its position. Tactical measures to consolidate the airfreight operations helped to stabilise the operation, while an increased focus on growing the Ocean freight operation resulted in significantly higher volumes in this segment across all trade lanes. Meanwhile, with margins under pressure due to declining freight rates, proactive yield management measures were implemented to protect margins. Steps were also taken to strengthen relations with all major existing carriers while building ties with new carriers to ensure capacity availability and maintain the optimum mix in terms of contracted capacity. In parallel, EFL continued to pursue its front-end growth strategy to focus on diversifying the client mix using aggressive customer acquisition strategies to tap into selected client verticals. As a result of these efforts, EFL was able to increase the concentration on a variety of verticals such as Tech, Pharma and Perishables. Alongside efforts to grow the other verticals, visible positive strides were made on the core apparel business as well, by maintaining wallet share of existing customers and attracting new strategic accounts into the portfolio. Further staying vigilant regarding potential growth opportunities, EFL quickly leveraged its strong East Asian presence to tap into the higher cargo flows originating from other Asian economies, which appeared to be benefitting from the fallout of US-China trade relations. Whilst COVID-19 impacted the performance of the Sector, particularly in the last Quarter, EFL pursued opportunities to optimise business for the new financial year. In the meantime, the global expansion strategy was also accelerated to strengthen EFL’s ground presence in selected geographies. New origin stations were established in Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium as part of the European expansion strategy. The main aim here was to consolidate EFL’s presence and optimise performance in this market, while creating a platform to penetrate a wider portfolio of verticals. Furthermore, the new station set up in Taiwan is aimed at enhancing EFL’s position in the Far Eastern markets. These new additions bring EFL’s global network to 23 as at end-March 2020. From a trade lane perspective, the Transpacific operation continued to grow and saw a steady increase in its numbers during the year due to EFL’s concentrated efforts in growing business and securing more accounts. Meanwhile, the Indian subcontinent operation too posted encouraging numbers despite the drop in overall trading volumes within the region. In other developments, EFL made steady progress in its digitisation agenda, which is aimed at supporting EFL to scale up operations to compete on a broader level and move quickly to take advantage of potential opportunities in the market, ultimately enhancing its global positioning as a strategic supply chain partner to its customers. The main initiative for 2019/20 was the completion of the rollout of Cargowise ERP across the EFL network to create a uniformed platform that enables all stations across the Group to adopt standardised processes to enhance visibility and transparency as well as improve operational efficiencies and drive scale as needed. Further, as an enabler of the front-end logistics management, Cargowise increases EFL’s ability to offer comprehensive end-to-end track and trace visibility to customers. Moreover, Cargowise is designed to allow EFL to seamlessly integrate with customer operations thus enabling greater intimacy and customer-centricity which would ultimately deliver long term sustainable advantage to EFL’s relationship with its customers. 3PL OPERATION The Group’s 3PL operations consist of both the Warehousing and Transport businesses. Continuing its successful approach of adopting a light asset model for the warehouse operation, EFL continues to drive growth in this segment by leveraging on its inherent expertise and optimizing business efficiencies. With the focused concentration on specifically targeted customers, value-added solutions, extending into varied supply chain services, the 3PL operation has been able to transform itself to become an important growth driver for Group. Moreover continued investments and deployment of cutting-edge technology has greatly enhanced the level of service, efficiency and visibility offered to the customer. The 3PL operation saw continued growth during the year under review with increased capacities which further resulted in the company commissioning a new customer fulfillment center of approx. 80,000 sq ft increasing the current warehousing capacity in Sri Lanka to approx. 540,000 sq.ft.Ongoing value additions of this nature have resulted in higher efficiency, utilisation and yields enabling the 3PL operation to grow consistently over the last 3 years in terms of revenue, profitability, and scale.
FINANCIAL RESULTS The Logistics sector performed reasonably well in the year under review to record Revenue growth of 9% year-on-year, a commendable achievement given the uncertainty in global freight markets. While a majority of EFL’s origin stations performed as per expectations, a few did fall short on their annual targets as a result of reduced volumes from their respective markets. KEY INDICATORS (Rs. Mn) 2019/20 2018/19 % Change Revenue 98,695 90,953 9% Earnings Before Interest & Taxes (EBIT) 927 3,472 -73% Finance Cost 332 162 105% Profit Before Tax 594 3,311 -82% Profit After Tax (90) 2,207 -104% Total Assets 32,285 29,366 10% Total Equity 11,474 14,262 -20% Total Debt 10,211 3,411 199% Capital Employed 21,685 17,674 23% Return on Equity -0.8% 15.5% -105% Return on Capital Employed 1.1% 13.4% -92% A combination of higher revenue and margin management measures drove up Gross Profits by 7% over the previous year, while the GP Margin was 18.1% in the current financial year. Adding to the incremental cost for the year is the full and final payment of USD 6.75 million, made to RCS Logistics Inc. USA to conclude a dispute between the said organisation, Expolanka Holdings PLC and Expolanka USA LLC (a fully-owned subsidiary of Expolanka Holdings PLC). As previously disclosed in Expolanka Holdings PLC’s Annual Reports and interim financials, RCS Logistics Inc had filed action against Expolanka USA LLC and Expolanka Holdings PLC, claiming damages on account of several of its employees leaving the employment of RCS Logistics Inc to join Expolanka USA LLC. The case which has been ongoing since June 2017 was resolved in September 2019 following the decision reached at a mediation hearing held in the state of New Jersey USA, where it was resolved that the dispute would be concluded on the basis that EFL would make a full and final payment of USD 6.75 million without the acceptance of any liability. Overheads increased by 18% year-on-year due to competency building initiatives to strengthen strategic areas, (APAC and USA), as well as the expenses incurred on building long term competency across the Asia Pacific operations. Other factors such as the depreciation of the Rupee against the US Dollar as well as natural inflationary pressures were partly responsible for the increase in recurring overheads. Despite significantly higher costs, the Logistics sector was able to record removethe word Operating Profits (excluding legal settlement and fees) of Rs. 2.2 billion in 2019/20. FOCUS FOR THE FUTURE The prospects for the year ahead remain uncertain, especially as it is quite likely that the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will be difficult to assess. However, as a nimble, flexible and progressive entity, EFL will take relevant steps to mitigate the short term impact of COVID-19 and come out stronger as an organisation. Therefore in the short-term, it is imperative that EFL keeps a keen eye on emerging business opportunities that may arise due to disruptions in global supply chains and inherent sourcing difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Enhancement of procurement capabilities and short-term overhead mitigation initiatives will be the other major focus areas in the coming months. Improving medium-term readiness will be another key priority. This means gearing up for the likely rebound in economic activity over the next 12 – 18 months. Going forward EFL will look to grow market share by consolidating long-standing markets and firming up its position in newly established segments, while prudently seeking out emerging opportunities. New customer acquisition and higher wallet share of existing customers will underpin EFL’s business expansion plans in the years ahead. Improving the customer mix, while maintaining a keen eye on customer performance will also be key priorities. This would require expanding EFL’s portfolio of services to offer fully integrated end-to-end logistics solutions. Technology will be a key part of this effort, both in terms of improving efficiency and enhancing customer intimacy. Efficiency will enable support scalability more efficiently, while customer intimacy will help raise EFL’s service fulfilment levels on par with global standards.