Hot on the heels of a sturdy operating profit announcement earlier this month, the Oceana Group, the biggest seller of canned fish in South Africa, reported that it had “zero” strikes in the past year, which was testimony to its good industrial relations.

Oceana chief executive Francois Kuttel said: “Our people and their performance are important to us, which we have proven by providing them with wellness programmes, securing their health and safety and ensuring zero fatalities on land during the year and zero fatalities for more than a decade at sea.”

The company trained 1 720 workers across all levels of the company during the last year, 90 percent were black people and 39 percent were women.

Oceana’s brands include Lucky Star, Blue Continent Products, Oceana Lobster, Calamari Fishing, Lamberts Bay Foods and Commercial Cold Storage, soon to be rebranded CCS Logistics in South Africa.

Oceana had spent R1.1 billion on broad-based black economic empowerment. According to company spokeswoman Anthea Abraham, this represented a 70 percent increase in total spend this year.

“This represents a 54 percent increase in spend with black-owned suppliers compared to 2011, Oceana’s total spend on enterprise development initiatives amounted to R32 million.”

Kuttel said the group was an independently verified black-owned and black-controlled company. Its third-largest shareholder was the Oceana Empowerment Trust, which held 11.8 percent of shares with a market value of more than R700m in trust for more than 2 000 current and former black employees.

According to Oceana chairman Mustaq Brey, the canned fish business performed “particularly well” and together with the turnaround in the fishmeal operation, was the main contributor to the rise in profit. The leading brand, Lucky Star, was aimed at the lower-income segment of the market.

The 2012 total allowable catch (TAC) for pilchards in South Africa was 100 595 tons (2011: 90 000 tons). Pilchard landings and processing yields at the St Helena Bay cannery were good and the company’s quota was expected to be landed in full by the close of the season. The Namibian pilchard TAC was 31 000 tons (2011: 25 000 tons) and all quotas contracted to the Etosha Fishing cannery were completed by the financial year end.

Oceana, which was incorporated in 1918 and consists of a number of fishing and commercial cold storage industries, reported that the “anchovy A” season, which ended in August, was 352 718 tons and the B season was 120 000 tons (2011: A season 270 291 tons, B season 120 000 tons). Oceana landed 75 percent of its A season quota and 30 percent of its B season quota, which resulted in significantly higher fishmeal and fish oil volumes than the previous year when only 47 percent of the A season quota was landed.

Oceana spent R5.2m on corporate social investment which had an impact on nearly 180 000 people, Kuttel reported.

Bloomberg reported that the group recorded a 33 percent jump in full-year earnings as demand outpaced supply and its fishmeal unit returned to profit. Net income advanced to R443.8m in the year to September 30 from a year ago. Revenue jumped 27 percent to R4.6bn.

A final dividend of R2.56 a share was declared which, together with the interim dividend of 45c, brought the total dividend for the year to R3.01 a share, an increase of 37 percent.

Oceana shares fell by 1.2 percent to close at R65.19 yesterday. – Donwald Pressly