DURBAN – Food and beverages company AVI has paid a total of R824.6 million in gross benefits to its black empowerment beneficiaries since it was started 10 years ago.

The group said in its 2018 annual report yesterday that the scheme allowed it to meet its transformation agenda with a 7.7 percent issuance of 26 million of ordinary shares to its black staffers.

The group said participants would gain from growth over a seven-year period, with the first tranche, a third of the shares, vested after five years.

“Over the life of the scheme to date, 17 873 participants have benefited from the scheme and received a total gross benefit of R824.6m, including 1587 participants who left the company’s employ in a manner that classified them as 'good leavers' and where these good leavers received a total gross benefit of R105.4m,” the group said.

During that period, AVI’s share price has rallied on the JSE, surging by more than 400 percent.

AVI has an extensive portfolio of more than 50 brands, which includes Five Roses, Bakers, Freshpak and House of Coffees.

It also holds the licence for international brands such as Rimmel, Kurt Geiger, Yardley and Lavazza.

The group said that its transformation agenda extended to its subsidiaries.

“At a subsidiary level, the company remains committed to ensuring that a direct economic benefit flows to I&J employees and the company’s board has approved the continuation of a 5percent black staff shareholding up to 2020,” the group said.

AVI said the total amount paid to participants since the commencement of the scheme in May 2005 amounted to R31.9m, a significant contribution towards the financial and social upliftment of I&J’s employees with 20 percent held by two broad-based black empowered companies with strong commitments to the South African fishing industry.

In the year to end June, AVI reported an 1.9 percent increase in revenue to R13.44 billion, while headline earnings per share increased by 7 percent to 543.1cents a share.

The group said that during the year it had also furthered its efforts to appoint, develop and retain black employees, especially where their representation is required in the middle, senior and top management bands.

“The company’s employment equity efforts remain behind training, developing and mentoring black employees with the objective of retaining them and preparing them for more senior roles.

"AVI has relationships with six key Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas) that include the Food and Beverage Seta, the Wholesale and Retail Seta, the Transport Seta and the Chemical Industries Seta,” the group said.

BUSINESS REPORT