In March 2020, the Nichols PLC Board made the decision to withdraw the final dividend (28.0p) for 2019, due to the uncertainties concerning the financial impact of Covid-19. At the half year, the Board agreed the rebalancing of dividend policy to consider the two financial years 2019 and 2020 as a single review period and paid 28.0p, as the Interim Dividend for 2020, in September 2020.
In the second half year, the Board has agreed to evolve the dividend policy to reflect the balance of shareholder needs and the clear opportunities for growth that will exist in the soft drinks market post the pandemic. Dividend cover going forward will move to broadly 2x.
Therefore, the final dividend proposed is 8.8p, which will become ex-dividend on the 25 March and paid subject to shareholder approval on 6 May 2021.
Other financial highlights include:
Vimto Brand Value in the UK +6.7% versus soft drink market of +2.5%3
Vimto Brand 'in-market' Middle East sales remained resilient through Ramadan despite Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT) and Covid-19 restrictions
Vimto in Africa delivered strong revenue growth of +7.4%
Vimto continues to progress across the rest of the world, delivering revenue growth of 17.3%
Out of Home (OoH) significantly impacted by the pandemic with revenues down 61.4% and fixed costs weighing heavily on overall financial performance
Strong cash performance in the period, Free Cash Flow4 +£17.6m, Cash Conversion5 at 186%
o Working capital focus with slower end of year 2020 due to Covid-19
Exceptional charge of £5.1m
o Of which £3.8m, non-cash Impairment of Feel Good Goodwill and Intangible Assets
o £1.3m operational review and restructuring
Continued uncertainty for 2021 outlook, guidance remains withdrawn