Sunday, April 14, 2024

Julius Berger transiting into conglomerate, says Lars Richter

  • Firm unveils innovative furniture at Africa housing show

“Julius Berger is transiting to a conglomerate by continually driving growth across our core businesses and our subsidiaries, through which we deliver value-added services along the entire value chain of the construction industry.”

The Managing Director of the company, Lars Richter, stated this at the 2023 edition of the Julius Berger Group Investors Forum held recently via zoom with stakeholders and shareholders.

According to Richter, “Our core business, which is our first pillar, continues to achieve stable growth and upholds our standards as Nigeria’s leading and most innovative construction company. We continue to drive economic growth and expansion in the country through our infrastructure projects, as well as development of industries through our building arm.”

On the transnational expansion of the company’s business operations, the Managing Director said that, “We are expanding our value delivery to other regions of the continent, and we will continue to maintain our performance standards and drive innovation in the construction industry,” adding that, “the projects in our core business significantly contribute to economic growth and expansion, creating more efficient routes that drive trade and commerce and foster industry development.”

He said Julius Berger has a proven history of consistent performance and value delivery. Underscoring this, Richter highlighted the company’s measured expansion into a conglomerate, a development which he said, “has progressed with our diversification efforts through the launch of our cashew product, which is export market driven, coupled with growth in our subsidiaries.”

On the company’s performance within the period, the Managing Director said there was growth even as he was confident of greater performance beyond the period.

Richter said, “Our top and bottom lines grew in the first half of the year, building on a very strong 2022 performance where we achieved record growth in turnover. On the back of this, we have sustained shareholder value delivery through the payments of dividends, alongside having sound and robust governance as a key pillar of our business. We have achieved broad-based progress, notwithstanding the challenging environment, which speaks very highly of our resilience as a company.”

Stressing that Julius Berger’s over 50 years of operation has consolidated with it a reputation for renowned quality delivery in the country and beyond, creating value for its stakeholders, the Managing Director declared that the company’s strategy has been resilient, expanding its portfolio over the decades.

The Managing Director assured all of management’s determination to ensure positive transition of the company to “a conglomerate.”

While giving an insight into the company’s planned transition into a conglomerate, Richter further revealed, “At the heart of our conglomerate transition is our diversification pillar, which we successfully kick-started in 2020 through the cashew processing business. We expect to reap significant benefits from our diversification efforts in the medium to long-term.

“We have achieved notable success so far, including exporting processed cashews to the international market. We are also looking at other sectors like healthcare, where we can create added value.”

On the Bodo-Bonny Road project and the Second River Niger Bridge, according to the Managing Director, the company continues to make progress in constructing the first road link between Bonny Island and the mainland in River State even as he added that construction continues at a good pace on the milestone project and looks forward to the completion of the project to support the continued advancement of Bonny Island and the Niger Delta in its entirety.

On the recently completed and commissioned Second River Niger Bridge, the Managing Director described it as a key national infrastructure with immense socioeconomic benefits for the contiguous states and indeed the entire nation just as he said the Abuja Kano Road where sections thereof were recently commissioned, only the Abuja to Kaduna section is yet to be completed because of banditry on that section of the busy highway all through last year.

The Managing Director also spoke of other projects such building projects in Lagos, the iconic architectural edifice, the worship centre in Uyo, contributions to the gas and oil business with Julius Berger’s unique construction expertise, as well as the company’s highly effective facility management works by which the company contributes as well to maintenance and refurbishment especially in Lagos and in Abuja.

For Julius Berger’s subsidiaries, Richter said, remarkable progress and development are being made even as he said that the company plans to sustain the trajectory through the continued provision of exceptional service and products to its clientele and the introduction of new products and services to the market.

On Julius Berger’s sustainability and governance policy, Richter said sustainability is embedded in the company’s business, adding that sustainable business is the best business. “We constantly assess the impact of our operations and actively generate shared value for our company, employees, communities, and in the region where we operate. We support and have embodied within our processes the 15 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We also prioritise environmental sustainability and have mechanisms in place that monitor emissions and manage waste,” he further said

On the company’s corporate governance policy, Richter said, “We have an effective enterprise risk management process, adhere to reporting standards and regulations and consistently engage with all our stakeholders. We also recently established a board strategy committee to place strategy at the heart of our sustainability and resilience. Our board recognises the importance of sustainability for long-term value creation.”

Speaking on the community engagement policy of the company, the Managing Director said: “We also maintain a robust Corporate Social Responsibility operation through various initiatives that focus on community welfare, employee development, diversity, and inclusion amongst other social initiatives.

“Some of our CSR initiatives include the provision of classroom buildings and school furniture as well as scholarships to students in construction-related departments across Nigeria’s universities.”

The Managing Director added that Julius Berger also has a food and medical donation policy during critical emergencies in the company’s operational sites and regions.

Speaking on the financial highlights of the company within the period to provide additional information to participants at the Forum, Director of Finance, Christian Hausemann said due to management’s rigorous cost management, gross profit, operating profit, and pre-tax margins have improved compared to 2022, despite the local and global inflation environment.

Hausemann said both the company’s assets and equity “have recorded very positive trends.” Hausemann added that the company invested in property, plant, and equipment to support its growth and diversification strategy.

“The upward trend in return on equity continued and is recorded at an annualised rate of 15.8% as of June, which demonstrates JBN’s ability to create value for its shareholders.

“We are on the right track,” Hausemann further added that the company’s return on assets which was negatively affected in 2020 rebounded positively from 2021 to 2023, reflecting a sustained upward trend in Julius Berger’s business activity.

At the questions and answers session, both Richter and Hausemann cleared any doubts whatsoever coming from shareholders amidst pledges to deliver greater dividends by year ending and going forward.

Representatives of Julius Berger at the Investors Forum were: Managing Director, Lars Richter, Director, Administration, Zubairu Bayi, Director Corporate Development, Tobias Meletschus, Company Secretary, Mrs Cecilia Mahueke, Finance Manager, Miss Joy Isen and Chief Risk Officer, Mrs Shakira Mustapha, with shareholders, including Oluwatosin Kalejaiye and Dele Akande.

Julius Berger-AFP unveils innovative furniture at Africa housing show

In another development, Julius Berger-AFP, the furniture production subsidiary of Julius Berger PLC, has unveiled its innovative collections of furniture at the just-ended Africa International Housing Show amid accolades from visitors and patrons to its stand.

A press statement by the company’s Media Relations Unit, Julius Berger-AFP said the groundswell of commendations were for regularly improving the standard of AFP’s diverse office and domestic furniture range for its broad spectrum of customers across Nigeria.

Speaking at the recently concluded Design Week Lagos 2023, Mutiu Sunmonu, Julius Berger chairman of the board of directors said that AFP has become the go-to destination for top-end furniture and reliable after-sales services.

“AFP has been growing qualitatively stronger and progressively more innovative over the past decade. The clear difference between AFP products and service offerings in the market relative to others is, to be modest, like day and night with AFP as the undisputed leader of the furniture sector frontlines,” Sunmonu said.

Akinbo Akin-Olugbade, a regular visitor to AFP exhibitions and a major stakeholder in the furniture production sector, noted AFP’s continuous excellence and its unique supply of quality furniture products.

“Last year, the subsidiary was already the best. It stood out in product design. This year, it has come out far better,” Akin-Olugbade said.

Adeniyi Oduola, the chief executive of TARD Engineering Limited, stated that the top-notch furniture pieces on display at the Design Week created a desire to explore more options at AFP’s Abuja showroom.

“The furniture pieces on display here are topnotch. I am totally amazed by the finishing,” Oduola said.

Oliver Cohnen, the general manager of AFP, noted that the company’s commitment to sustainability in furniture design, production, and finishing, makes it stand out in the market.

He noted that AFP’s furniture balances functionality with aesthetics, creating spaces that are both inviting and environmentally sustainable.

“AFP designs and produces quality furniture that balances function with aesthetics to create spaces that connect, invite and delight. We assess designs to understand what procurement sources, materials and methods of production are best to create a viable balance between environmental sustainability and customer satisfaction. For every furniture piece we produce and offer to the market, sustainability is a mandatory aspect of the design and production phase at AFP,” Cohen said.

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