2020 has been an extraordinary year, requiring response of equal measure, where Almarai’s commitment to the consumers who choose our products has become synonymous with our commitment to quality
World’s 1st Pandemic Prepared Certification – AIB International, 2020
Saudi Brand with the Most Loyal Customers - YouGov Customer Loyalty Rankings, 2020
Middle East’s Top 100 Companies – Forbes, 2020
Ministry of Health – Saudi Arabia, 2020
Middle East’s Best in Class Treasury Solutions – Adam Smith Awards, 2020
Leading Corporate for Investor Relations, Saudi Arabia – MEIRA
Most Valuable FMCG Brand – KANTAR BRANDZ Awards, 2020
Saudi Arabia Most Influential Brands – Ipsos, 2020
3rd Place Best Annual Report, Middle East – Digital Category – MEIRA
Best New Sukuk - ASSET ASIAN AWARDS 2020
Saudi Arabia Most Chosen FMCG Brand – KANTAR, 2020
3rd Place Best Digital IR, Middle East - MEIRA
In a year that will be remembered for challenges the world has never seen before, we remained committed to one ideal : Delivery
In a year of profoundly challenging conditions that have not been experienced in living memory, Almarai prioritized one area: Delivery. After years of careful planning and investment in the business and quality of our products, we realized returns on the strength that we have built over our 40-year history.
This was, in some ways, an evolutionary year for Almarai, with historical investments and achievements paying off for the Company, shareholders and consumers. Prior strategic planning was essential for the on-ground logistics and productivity that safeguarded our supply chain, production and distribution.
From this evolution we aim to build in the coming years. We are adapting for future growth, both financial and nonfinancial, by increasing our agility, improving our cash flows, and continuing to find innovative ways to optimize our supply chain in order to manage our costs.
Zero product shortages occurred even at the peak of the pandemic as the Company focused efforts on ensuring availability for consumers. At an operational level, we have always committed to exceeding demand, and this proved vital.
By prioritizing delivery, we did not compromise on our commitment to quality. Quality is a concept that drives our operations, from sourcing the highest calibre ingredients across the globe to produce our well-loved products and deliver them to our loyal consumers and customers.
Resilience is a foundation of Almarai’s values, embedded in our belief system, that promotes our enduring and unwavering commitment to consumers. 2020 was a formidable test of self-sufficiency for the Company. We consider it a test that we passed.
Responsibility to maintain market leadership across important food and beverage categories. Our ability to satisfy demand through readiness and preparedness was evidenced by our recognition as the first company in the world to receive AIB International’s “Pandemic Prepared Certification”. Meanwhile, our people are critical to our operations, and we delivered on our responsibility of care to ensure their health and safety.
The last twelve months have demonstrated how we have come to embody the concept of delivery at its core, reflected in our strategy and operating model
Our success relied heavily on the support of our Board, our management and colleagues at all levels to deliver on our promises and commitments to customers
On behalf of the Board of Directors, it is my pleasure to introduce Almarai’s 2020 Annual Report. This was a year that tested our fortitude as a cornerstone of the food and beverage sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It has been a year full of challenges, market headwinds and economic volatility, but every employee played their part to ensure the safe delivery of our products to our loyal consumers.
At the beginning of the year, the global economy was in an improving position and many GCC markets were poised to realize growth. Markets in the Middle East rapidly deteriorated once Covid-19 began to spread, curtailing the growth potential that many companies remain in recovery from today. Ambitions to achieve growth quickly shifted to defending market share and ensuring an adequate supply of products were made available to the public, in tandem with significant pressures in the form of tripled VAT and rapidly changing consumer behaviour.
Short to medium term forecasts for the region remain depressed, with most markets expecting contractions in the coming year. The severity of these pressures will depend on meaningful progress in combating the spread of Covid-19. Non-oil sector growth suffered from significant capital spending reductions and socially restrictive measures inhibiting private sector growth. Oil production levels will remain in line with the OPEC+ commitments, further prompting the need to secure diversification through foreign direct investment, which increased by 12% from the previous year1. The Kingdom remains wholeheartedly committed to achieving Vision 2030, not allowing the pandemic to distract from the Government’s strategic aims in realizing this transformation. Presiding over the G20 summit, the Government committed to building greater resilience into the Kingdom’s financial systems and reserves.
A business of Almarai’s size has to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of its employees, a key pillar of our sustainability framework implemented in the previous year, “Caring for our People”. I am personally proud of the rapid response of Almarai’s management teams, effectively transitioning the Company to remote working and implementing lockdown procedures at our manufacturing facilities to protect these sites from exposure to the pandemic. Acting with agility we were able to take much of our work online, establishing effective communications systems to unite disparate workers.
A highlight of 2020 included our continued commitment to food security in the region. As a market leader in the segments in which we operate, we feel a duty of responsibility to meet consumer demand, ensuring availability of our products on retail shelves. Almarai benefitted from its highly integrated business model, exploiting end-to-end control of our supply chain to meet consumer demand. I am pleased to note that Almarai did not experience a single instance of supply chain shortages, enabling uninterrupted access to our much loved products that reflect our commitment to quality.
Another milestone for the Company came in the form of recognition from AIB International as the first company in the world to receive the “Pandemic Prepared Certification”. The multifaceted assessment rigorously examined our management systems including crisis protocols, supply chain, operations, and health crisis mitigation. Throughout the year, our ability to adapt to new stringent regulations while ensuring the quality of our products remained uncompromised and supportive of the wider health implications surrounding the pandemic was inspiring. Despite difficult macroeconomic circumstances, Almarai reaffirmed its commitment to ‘Quality you can trust’. We went above and beyond the call of duty to maintain inventory levels for retailers.
In 2020, the Board continued to diligently perform its fiduciary responsibilities. In March, it appointed HH Prince Saud bin Sultan bin Mohammed as a non-executive member. In April, following the Company’s Annual General Meeting, we approved a dividend totalling SAR 850 million to be paid to shareholders; along with ambitious expansion plans for the Poultry segment through SAR 275 million in capital investment.
Almarai’s total market capitalization as at 31 December 2020 was SAR 54.9 billion, with one billion shares in issue. At the forthcoming Annual General Meeting on 13 April 2021 the Board of Directors will propose a dividend distribution of SAR 1,000 million, equivalent to SAR 1.0 per share or 50% of audited Net Income.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to my fellow members of the Board of Directors, for the support and trust they continue to place in our management team. I would also like to place on the record my sincere thanks to the senior management team who, in the face of unprecedented market conditions upheld the values of Almarai in delivering quality to customers and driving value for shareholders. Lastly, on behalf of the Company, I would like to thank our consumers, employees and quality makers who all play a vital role in Almarai’s corporate journey and in no small part contribute to our ongoing success. 2020 proved to be a challenging but rewarding year that tested the strength and resilience of our business model. I am proud of the continued commitment demonstrated by our employees to secure Almarai’s future.
This was a year that tested the strength of Almarai as a contributor to food security in the Middle East. Our prior investments in infrastructure, processes and a strong supply chain truly paid off. It has been a privilege to lead the Company through this difficult period and I have relied heavily on the support of the management team and colleagues at all levels to deliver on our promises and commitments to customers. I am proud of the work we have done and wholeheartedly believe we have embodied the values that our stakeholders have come to expect from us.
Net Income for 2020 stood at SAR 1,984 million, increasing by 9.5% from 2019. Revenues improved by 7% to reach SAR 15,357 million. Markets across the GCC saw sustained macroeconomic pressure throughout the year, owing largely to the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to cause disruption to supply chains and the wider food and beverage industry globally. Almarai’s highly integrated business model mitigated the impact of much of this volatility, with strong processes and controls proving vital in ensuring sufficient volumes were available to meet consumer demand.
Sales volumes experienced a steep uptick in activity in the early stages of the pandemic, primarily due to lockdown measures quickly imposed by the Saudi Government to ensure the safety and wellbeing of citizens. Retail shopping saw a major spike in activity as customers rushed to stock up in anticipation of prolonged lockdown measures and wider market uncertainty. Control of our supply chain and the strategic allocation of products proved essential to managing costs and ensuring adequate supply of products.
In such a challenging market environment, we modified our approach to ensure the safety of all employees. Initially, 2,400 of our colleagues were trapped abroad and unable to return due to travel restrictions, and unable to work prior to the rapid integration of home working protocols. We quickly took the necessary steps to facilitate remote working for non-factory and non-farming staff and implement a full lockdown at all farming and production sites, minimizing exposure to the outside world. This allowed our onsite teams to continue their valuable work.
2020 has been an extraordinary year, requiring a response of equal measure, where Almarai’s commitment to the customers and consumers who choose our products has become synonymous with our commitment to quality. As markets began to contract when the pandemic swept the region, we felt a duty to act as an anchor in the region to ensure food shortages were mitigated as far as possible. Our robust internal processes and end-to-end distribution capabilities were fully utilized to fulfil demand in all of our key markets.
The impact of our commitment to ensuring availability of key products was felt across the business. Initially, we experienced some operational and supply chain disruption as the economy transitioned to a ‘new normal’. Although we are in a ‘defensive’ sector, we were not immune to this, and had to import higher volumes of livestock feed and other raw materials, which increased costs considerably, but was comfortably met by strong free cash flow of SAR 2,830 million. As we transitioned back to a new version of ‘business-as-usual’, it became clear that the built-in measures to improve our resilience over the years have played a vital role in our ability to maintain productivity in times of uncertainty, reinforcing our promise of “Quality you can trust”.
Almarai employs more than 41,000 people worldwide, with over 27,000 residing in Company accommodation either onsite or nearby. We immediately recognized that, to continue production and maintain our commitment to producing the highest quality products, full social distancing measures would prove incredibly difficult while maintaining contact with the outside world. As such, Almarai made the decision to lock down production sites, which allowed our employees to continue as normal alongside rolling out a series of sanitization initiatives that complied with Government regulation, on top of our already comprehensive food safety protocols to protect consumers. Safety for all stakeholders has, and will continue to be, our top priority.
In line with the Government’s vision to protect the public from the pandemic, hygiene materials and disposable products were made available across our manufacturing and distribution facilities. Along with designated quarantine rooms, such initiatives proved challenging from a cost perspective but ultimately ensured solid topline results.
We remain fully committed to realizing the aims of the Almarai 2025 strategy, while prioritizing working capital optimization and business process transformation in response to the pandemic. In the coming year we will redouble our efforts to strengthen the core business due to reduced disposable income and a likely decrease in tourism to the Kingdom. We are, however, satisfied with the progress made towards achieving our five-year strategic aims, and are eager to resume regular business activity once the economy recalibrates in full.
I am grateful to the senior management team for their support, guidance, and wisdom in profoundly difficult conditions. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Board of Directors and our shareholders for their support during an especially volatile year, and to my colleagues at all levels who are the backbone of Almarai. Lastly, I would like to express my thanks to our loyal customers and consumers, who placed their faith in our business to deliver quality and nutritious products. I am pleased to say that we did not fail them, and that, God willing, we will continue to deliver.
Throughout what was an extraordinary year for Almarai, we have realized returns from historical investments in the Company that prepared us to step up and deliver on our promise to consumers. Through diligent planning, we put ourselves in a position where there was no need to compromise on our commitment to quality, while achieving healthy topand bottom-line growth.
Revenues for the year totalled SAR 15,357 million, increasing by 7.0% from 2019. Top-line growth was led by Long Life Dairy, Foods and Poultry where all three business segments recorded double digit increases for the year. Our Retail sales channels performed well, however Foodservices was subdued due to the pandemic taking hold of the Kingdom earlier in the year. The situation has since remained fluid, and we are beginning to see green shoots of recovery as the HORECA sector begins to open up.
Gross profit increased by 3.1% for the year, to reach SAR 5,536 million for 2020. Margins were impacted by higher input costs for raw material and feed, driven primarily by alfalfa imports, labour costs, and health and safety initiatives to better manage the pandemic. Through careful cost management, we were able to offset increased selling and distribution expenses, which increased by 4.8% to SAR 2,490 million, by a focus on de-leveraging the Company and exploiting a low interest environment. Pandemic-related costs added pressure to the bottom-line, but strict cost control measures for both CAPEX and operating expenses alleviated this impact, with CAPEX reduced by more than 40% to SAR 969 million for the year, focused on essential maintenance activities. Consequently, year-on-year net income growth was strong, at 9.5% to reach SAR 1,984 million at a margin of 12.9% (12.6% in 2019).
Free cash flow was very healthy, increasing by 19.3% to reach SAR 2,830 million at year-end, compared to SAR 2,373 million in 2019 ex M&A activities. This played a critical role in our ability to deliver products to consumers. We made one significant drawdown on an existing facility at the beginning of the year, amounting to SAR 600 million, as a precaution to position us to operate as the pandemic began to spread through the Kingdom, but with a positive cash flow position we did not need to access new debt or drawdown further on facilities for the remainder of the year. We anticipate continued strong cash flow generation as we move into 2021, with liquidity and funding plans in place to support our operating position in the prevailing economic climate.
Net Debt to EBITDA was reduced from 3.2x in 2019 to 2.7x for 2020, and we remain committed to de-leveraging the Company towards an optimal ratio between 2.5x and 2.7x, having made excellent progress in the last 12 months. Almarai maintained its investment grade credit ratings of BBB- from Standard & Poor’s and Baa3 from Moody’s, both with a stable outlook throughout 2020 and heading into the next financial year. While the business did not require any additional funding for 2020, we maintained back-up facilities in both committed and uncommitted lines amounting to SAR 5,500 million to account for potential volatility in the market.
With respect to credit risk, Retail performed considerably well, despite the ongoing pandemic, however, Foodservice performance remained subdued which resulted in a delay to recovery, acutely experienced during the lockdown period. The situation has since started to improve, as businesses once again begin opening up in the Kingdom. The existing controls in place supported the safeguarding of our receivables within Foodservice, with credit terms of 65% to 70% of the business standing at 30 days, and we managed to collect payments without extended delays and managed to successfully avoid significant bad debts. Throughout the year, our proactive approach to carefully monitoring receivables has resulted in no major credit issues.
Almarai is built on the founding principle of “Quality you can trust”. Resilience has been embedded in our organizational structure over many years of strategic investments to expand our capacity and develop world-class production facilities. The business was well-equipped to ramp up production to account for increased consumer demand as behaviour shifted towards a defensive stance, and customers began to panic during the initial uncertainty. Almarai management reacted rapidly to begin scenario planning for potential economical outcomes, which has given the Company impetus to begin rationalizing its operating model to further mitigate anticipated headwinds.
As a vertically integrated manufacturer and distributor, Almarai has substantial control and ownership over all inventories, which significantly reduced supply chain risk in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unlike other players in the food and beverage industry, raw material procurement was not a cause for concern. We identified several issues with suppliers who were forced into utilizing lines of credit to secure raw materials, demonstrating some problematic issues with liquidity in the market. In European markets, such as Spain, liquidity quickly became a major concern, and we overcame this by diverting to Argentina, which streamlined processes by mitigating the need for dual-suppliers, therefore reducing costs overall.
We are well-positioned for stable performance in the years ahead, with the journey towards Almarai 2025 having made meaningful strides. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia we have continued to improve both market share and revenues across segments, with solid growth in Kuwait and Egypt. Oman saw a decline in volumes this year, prompted by the introduction of a new entrant in the dairy market, however we remain optimistic that we can create white space for mutually beneficial and healthy competition in the Sultanate. As Saudi Arabia returns to more normal economic activity in 2021, we anticipate an uptick in Foodservices as restaurants reopen and consumers spend more time outside their homes.
On 31 March 2020, we settled our local Sukuk of SAR 787 million, reducing our overall debt, and following AGM approval paid an SAR 850 million dividend to shareholders, maintaining our commitment to delivering competitive returns. Our healthy cash position at year-end has put the Company in a strong position to pursue future investment activities and expansion opportunities as they emerge. We look forward to the year ahead.
The business model is structured to deliver on the promise of ‘Quality you can trust’. It is tailored to our commitment to ongoing improvement and exists as a guiding force for operations across the Company
It is tailored to our commitment to ongoing improvement and exists as a guiding force for operations across the Company. The business model enables management and staff to work in accordance with a clearly defined operating framework. It facilitates the practical application of a working culture that has efficient and effective process management at its heart.
Animals consume highest quality feed
Almarai imports 100% of its yearly green fodder requirements through its oversea arable operations
Dairy herd and poultry flock have 24-hour veterinary care
Temperature controlled housing
Highly nutritious feed
Ensures maximum yield and first-class end product
Cutting-edge technology to mass-produce nutritious products while reducing costs (Manufacturing 4.0)
Continuous facilities expansion and renovation
Meeting growing demand
Transport & Logistics division larger than any logistics company in the Middle East
8,441 vehicles deliver 2 billion kg of product on time and in perfect condition
Earned the trust of consumers to become a trusted brand across the Middle East
Ongoing feedback process for maintaining quality and consumer satisfaction
Commitment to innovation is a core value
Innovation underwrites the Almarai quality culture
Digitalization of production and automation of business processes
We remain fully committed to realizing the aims of the Almarai 2025 strategy, while prioritizing working capital optimization and business process transformation in response to the pandemic
To deliver on our strategic objectives we have established where we will operate and how we will win. In essence, our objectives are to realize our full potential in core markets, turn around non-core businesses, and develop high-potential new categories. The key drivers of the strategy are:
In 2014, the Saudi government decreed that by 2018, all local green fodder production for the purpose of herd consumption would be stopped, in an effort to preserve the Kingdom’s precious water resources.
Today, Almarai procures 100% of its alfalfa requirements internally and from overseas. The most recently established farming venture – Maria Fondomonte in Romania – received Board approval to proceed as a strategic alliance with Maria Group in February 2019.
Our aim is to foster a positive working environment in which everyone is part of the organization’s growth, where life and work are defined by the values of the company
Was initiated to drive a deeper communication level, create belonging across Almarai and bring us closer to our values. We always strive to create a positive working environment for our Quality Makers.
Our aim is to foster a positive working environment in which everyone is part of the organization’s growth, where life and work are defined by the values of the company. We have an internal culture centered around the employee’s progress and evolution. A process of continual feedback is well-established, delivering constructive guidance for strengthening the working culture. With an increasingly vibrant workplace, we have achieved better retention levels, with turnover down by 6%, from 13.8% in 2019 to 7.8% in 2020.
Derived from our values, we constructed a set of pillars to signify and strengthen our internal culture.
Marks all initiatives that signify the growth and progress of the individual and the team alike within the culture of Almarai.
Involves all employee centered activations and initiatives, including promoting wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle, and team-building activities.
Involves presenting any learning activity, training for the employees, as well as charitable initiatives that help drive the people and the organization forward.
Signifies all celebratory events within the organization and out, such as National Day celebrations, recognition of International Days, Almarai achievements
36,534 Almarai quality makers
8,653 Saudi nationals
2,007 new hires in 2020
No. of learners 3,552
No. of digital learning hours 61,258
We won the award for the best employees’ health initiative of 2020 under the title (WE Care) at the level of governmental and private entities in Saudi Arabia as part of the Waai Competition presented by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance.