19 Nov 2020

Alliance pleased with performance despite sharp profit drop

2:10 pm on 19 November 2020

One-off costs including retrospective payments to workers have pulled the meat processor Alliance's profit before tax down to $7.5 million.

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor

Covid-19 has affected the co-operative's processing operations, Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor says. Photo: Supplied

This compares with a $20.7m profit before tax in 2019. But before adjusting for one-off events, the farmer-owned co-operative made an underlying profit of $27.4m for the year ended September 2020.

Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart said it was a credible performance for the company given the disruption and volatility in global markets as a result of Covid-19.

"The co-operative has faced challenges on many fronts. Like many businesses, we have been impacted by the pandemic, however, our farmers also experienced extreme weather including drought, snow and flooding in parts of the country and difficult growing conditions.

"These on farm challenges also flowed through to the co-operative."

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said the company's response to the challenges was pleasing. He said Covid-19 also impacted on the co-operative's processing operations with new operating protocols limiting capacity for farmers.

"We acknowledge and thank our farmers and livestock team for the support in managing through this period when farmers needed to have their livestock processed under restricted conditions."

Taggart said there would be no profit distribution to shareholders this year. He said this was in part due to a $19.9m one-off cost, following a court ruling that meat workers should be paid for time spent putting on their protective clothing, know as "donning and doffing."

"While we would have liked to have rewarded our farmers, we believe this is a responsible decision to ensure a profitable and sustainable co-operative for the future. We are committed to re-investing in the business to create a stronger co-operative."

Taggart said its financial results excluded money the company may be eligible for under the government's Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The company initially claimed $34m but Taggart said about $21m, which wasn't needed for retaining jobs and income, had since been returned.

"Alliance and the Ministry of Social Development are currently working in a principled and constructive manner to resolve the amount Alliance is entitled to retain. None of this amount will be recognised until discussions with the Ministry of Social Development are complete."

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