Bidcorp has delivered a very pleasing performance for the half year to December 2023 in a turbulent and challenging world beset with anaemic, stagnant and sometimes negative economic growth. We have grown our top line by 24% and after adjusting for our relevant food-basket inflation, we believe our real volume growth to be in the region of 6%. Our global teams are to be commended on successfully delivering our strategic foodservice focus, within our entrepreneurial and decentralised operating model, contributing to an excellent result.

In terms of financial performance, headline earnings per share (HEPS) increased by 18,6% to 1 152,4 cents per share (H1F2023: 971,7 cents per share), with basic earnings per share (EPS) increasing by 17,6% to 1 143,8 cents per share (H1F2023: 972,4 cents per share). Currency volatility positively impacted the rand-translated HEPS.

Europe produced an excellent performance under the circumstances both in terms of revenue growth and margins, with almost every business showing solid growth. Australasia's revenue growth moderated however both Australia and New Zealand delivered strong trading performances. The UK delivered good volume growth from the prior contract wins and acquisitions although profitability was impacted by lower margins and higher costs. Emerging Markets benefited from a strong performance from our South African businesses, however, the negative macro in Greater China impacted the half-year outcome.

Activity levels held up well in Q1, however, there was a general slowdown into the festive season. Our focus on the optimal mix of sales in both the discretionary and non-discretionary market segments assisted in protecting our gross margins. Moderating but persistent food inflation complicated trading as many customers became more price sensitive and competition increased. Cost inflation has eased, labour availability is improving, although wage pressures remain as we backfill positions and grow our workforce to cater for the increased scale of the business. There has been some relief in energy and fuel cost impacts.

Investment activity, primarily into new distribution capacity, has continued to cater for current and future growth. Only one bolt-on acquisition was concluded in Australia in the period.


The board has declared an interim cash dividend of 525,0 cents per share for the half year ended December 31  2023 (H1F2023: 440,0 cents per share), an increase of 19,3% and approximately 2,2 times HEPS cover, in line with group policy.

Financial overview

Net revenue of R113,8 billion (H1F2023: R91,8 billion) rose by 24,0% (constant currency increase of 10,8%), representing solid real growth, despite rapidly moderating inflation and softening demand.

Gross profit percentage at 23,7% (H1F2023: 23,6%) held up very well. As supply chain disruptions corrected themselves, there was substantially less availability of opportunistic buying opportunities, and our teams have pivoted their purchasing capabilities accordingly. Most businesses are continually refining their sales mix, reducing the low-margin, low-return customers, the benefits of which have assisted in offsetting the decline in the UK. Management is continually managing the trading environment which may require the need to sacrifice margin to maintain volumes, and vice versa. The UK's margins remain below norm due to their exposure to national customers, a segment which has structurally lower margins.

The overall cost-of-doing-business increased slightly from 18,3% in H1F2023 to 18,5%. Despite our businesses having been able to substantially pass through moderating product inflation, the strongest headwind we have encountered is in the cost base. Although cost inflation is decelerating, there are still many lagging impacts that will continue to affect us in the short term, the biggest input being labour which accounts for around two-thirds of the cost base. We are looking at further efficiency measures; however, we are aware that our businesses are efficient and operate a high-service model in growing markets.

Group trading profit increased by 20,8% to R5,9 billion (H1F2023: R4,9 billion) and 9,0% in constant currency. H1F2024 trading profit margins remain good at 5,2% slightly below H1F2023 at 5,3%, an excellent result in this environment.

Net finance charges (excluding IFRS 16 charges) were higher by 41,8% at R317,5 million (H1F2023: R223,9 million) driven by higher investments into working capital, further facility expansions, dividend payments to shareholders, and a materially higher interest rate environment in all markets. Finance charges from H2F2023 to H1F2024 are flat in constant currency.

Overall cash flow has been good considering the normal seasonality of the businesses. Cash generated by operations before working capital was strong at R6,8 billion, some 11% more than the R6,1 billion in H1F2023. Bidcorp absorbed working capital of R3,5 billion, R0,4 billion more than H1F2023 driven by higher activity levels and a weaker rand exchange rate translation. All working capital metrics were stronger with average net working capital days at 10,1 days (H1F2023: 12,1 days) working capital percentage to revenue at 4,0% (H1F2023: 4,5%), well within our normalised target of 4,0% to 5,0%.

Gross capital investments in property, plant, and equipment of R2,9 billion (H1F2023: R2,0 billion) include R1,9 billion expansionary investments in new capacity, the largest portion of which has been in Australia.

Non-IFRS 16 net debt to EBITDA at 0,5 times is slightly up on H1F2023 but within expectations considering working capital cycles and capital investments. Non-IFRS 16 EBITDA interest cover is at 20,7 times (H1F2023: 24,7 times), both of these well within group covenants.


Bidcorp's overall strategic focus remains on the wholesaling of food and allied products to the eating-out-of-home market; focusing on growth through selling to the correct mix of customers; serviced by well-located infrastructure; and enabled by world-class technology solutions. Growth is further supplemented by in-territory bolt-on acquisitions to expand geographic reach and product range, or via strategic acquisitions to enter new markets.

Although our businesses operate largely in the same broad industry, we actively encourage competitiveness among our businesses, and equally encourage co-operation and sharing of ideas and learnings, recognising each business presents its own nuances, issues, outlook, challenges and opportunities. We manage each business on a standalone basis, while ensuring we maximise the benefit of our global scale, experience, expertise and IP. Our greatest synergy is the collective knowledge of operating in multiple geographies, with each business at differing stages of maturity and development. We benchmark and compare, to demonstrate what works and what does not, and to inspire what success looks like.


Further investments into strategic distribution facilities to provide for future capacity are planned in many businesses to cater for anticipated organic growth, however, the rate of investment is likely to moderate. Investing in new technologies for renewable energy, refrigeration, energy efficiency and logistics optimisation in an environmentally and cost-efficient way remains a strategic imperative to furthering our sustainability.

We are ramping up our advancements in technology as well as continuing to explore what opportunities AI can bring, actively looking to AI-solutions to maximise sales opportunities, margin optimisation, inventory management, as well as labour efficiencies.

Several bolt-on acquisitions are under consideration across the group, both for in-country geographic expansion as well as value-add product development, which are likely to conclude in the latter part of the financial year or early in the new year. No new geographic-market acquisitions are being investigated at present, but we are alert to any opportunities should they present themselves.

The long-term growth fundamentals of the global foodservice industry remain positive, in the short term, the economic outlook for many of our jurisdictions is much tougher. Food inflation is abating erratically, cost inflation remains elevated driven by ongoing wage increases, and consumer spend will remain under pressure until interest rates start to decline. Activity levels into February have been reasonable, considering the seasonally slower winter in the Northern Hemisphere. We have the management teams and the business model to continue to perform, adapting and maximising the changing circumstances we encounter. We believe our market share is increasing and we remain confident that we can continue to deliver real growth for the remainder of the financial year.

Divisional review


Consumer sentiment in both Australia and New Zealand was dampened by the impact of ongoing inflationary and interest rate pressures, but the results in the region were good, reporting growth in both revenue and trading profit off an incredibly strong prior-year performance. Revenue grew 9,0% to R23,7 billion. Trading profit was up 17,2% to R1,8 billion (H1F2023: R1,5 billion), benefiting from excellent margin and cost management in spite of the inflationary cost pressures experienced.

Australian sales were flattish with top-line results impacted by the exit of further QSR activity in the previous year, which has resulted in improved margins. Expenses increased with continued energy price increases, labour cost increases, and further investment into new facilities.

Foodservice delivered a solid performance in a tough market. Sales maintained, margins grew, resulting in an improved contribution for the first half. Focus will remain on growing the "right" customer categories and developing the "right" product mix. An acquisition in Dubbo (NSW) was completed in the period, the integration of which is starting. New facilities are near completion in Darwin and Canberra, as well as branch extensions in Emerald and Toowoomba, all of which add capacity for growth.

Supply Solutions have implemented some positive changes to their freight model which has delivered a significant improvement in overall contribution. Navigating ongoing supply shortages because of global geopolitical instabilities remains the biggest challenge. Simply Food Solutions has had a great first half and continues to focus on being a key supplier to the Foodservice businesses, growing the range and increasing the exposure to the current customer base. Meat has had a good first half, with the outlook positive. Investments continue to grow processing capability. Current market conditions will remain into the second half, with weakening consumer confidence likely to impact the hospitality sector.

New Zealand delivered pleasing results despite the continuing negative consumer sentiment following recessionary economic conditions. The decline in activity was somewhat offset by the increased flow in international tourism. Successful implementation of the importing and manufacturing strategy has delivered increased sales well in excess of food inflation, boosted by good expense management, resulting in a trading profit result ahead of expectations.

The Foodservice team worked hard to achieve sales volume growth, benefiting from a focus on growing the Own Brand range, as well as category focus on specific specialised ranges such as the alcohol offering. Some regions made the decision to sacrifice margin to retain market share, however many regions felt competitive pressure. Volumes lost following the exit of a large QSR customer in October 2022 was replaced and, in some cases, exceeded previous levels.

Simply Food Solutions had an outstanding second quarter as the pull-through of internal Own Brand sales improved and airline catering benefited from the increase in international tourism. Efficiencies realised on the investment into automated processing solutions has materially improved yield and margins. Investment into additional processing capacity continues. New investment has commenced to increase our protein processing capability.

Rising wage costs, staff retention, and sourcing additional staffing needed to meet the volume growth demands, remain a key focus area. Costs are being impacted by the steep growth of market rentals, reflecting the rising cost of construction. A new site in Taupo is due to be opened in May 2024, with work commencing in both Waipapa and Wellington. Continuing the current growth trajectory while navigating a tough trading environment remains a key focus to yearend.

United Kingdom (UK)

Trading conditions in the UK have been tough in the hospitality sector, with operators navigating high food, labour, rent, and energy prices, to keep their doors open. Green shoots of recovery are expected with food inflation coming down, energy costs lower than a year ago, and interest rates stabilising.

Under these circumstances, Bidfood UK grew revenue 39,5% to R32,3 billion (H1F2023: R23,1 billion) however, trading profit was impacted by the drop in gross margins. The lower cost-of-doing-business, despite the ever-increasing cost burden, was unable to arrest the decline and overall trading profit was down 2,2% to R889 million (H1F2023: R909 million).

The Wholesale depots achieved great top-line growth in the first half, growing volumes by 12% on H1F2023, but margin was compromised to achieve this growth, with both freetrade and national accounts margin down. Additional cost was incurred as a result of investing in new depots and infrastructure to meet the increasing volume, the benefits of which will be evident as these sites become fully operational.

Caterfood Buying Group (CBG) benefited from their prior year acquisitions, which are being successfully transitioning to Bidfood's approach and working practices. Through developing and improving buying synergies, as well as capturing resource and transport efficiencies, a stronger second half is anticipated.

Fresh was slightly better than the prior year first half, in both revenue and profits. Costs have been well-controlled, and expectations are good for a positive second half. Manufacturing was profitable in the period despite having to navigate some one-off costs, the outlook is good.

Digitising the environment continues with an advanced stock management solution which will impact efficiencies across the service offering and contribute to working capital improvements. Work continues in embedding the sustainability strategy, with efforts focused on material impact areas. Progress is being made in the measurement and extent of scope 3 carbon emissions, working closely with key suppliers, on the journey towards setting net-zero targets.

Good progress has been made on the six new builds, with two completed and ready for operations in early H2. Management continues to actively pursue bolt-on acquisition opportunities in the independent market.


Our European operations have had an excellent first half, increasing revenue and trading profits to record levels, an outstanding performance in a tough, erratic environment. Revenue growth was up 29,0% to R40,7 billion (H1F2023: R31,6 billion). Trading profit results were even better with an impressive 46,1% increase to R2,3 billion (H1F2023: R1,6 billion). The businesses navigated energy costs volatility, erratic inflationary impacts and ongoing supply chain disruptions in both inventory and capital products – yet still delivered record performances.

Netherlands had an excellent first half, with revenue growth outstripping inflation levels. Gross margin and excellent cost management contributed to the strength of the result. National accounts have delivered good results through continued focus on customer requirements and getting the product mix "right". Growth in the freetrade sector continues.

Energy and fuel costs continue to increase, mitigated by efficiency improvements implemented in the operations. Construction of the new property development in The Hague has started, completion is expected to be March 2025.

Belgium had a solid half year, revenue growth responding well, driven by an improved economic environment and trading profit benefiting from lower inflation rates and energy costs. Consumer sentiment, and spend in the hospitality sector, remains cautious. The loss of a low-margin account in the Thuin operations did not affect profitability. Institutional sales in Kruibeke have increased, benefiting from a focus on the customer profile. Activity in the horeca sector was under pressure but performance benefited from internal efficiencies. Expenses overall have been well-managed. An acquisition opportunity continues to be pursued, with a positive outcome expected by the summer.

Czech Republic and Slovakia experienced subdued domestic demand as consumers remain cautious. Disinflation in overall costs across the market, with falling energy prices, easing wage and food inflation as well as a stabilising in the supply chain activity, contributed to the business reporting excellent results for the first half. Staff resourcing remains challenging in the current record-low unemployment environment. Investment into growing capacity continues, through expanding the current Slovak site and commencing construction of a South Bohemia site.

Italy continues to deliver good results, with margins coming under a little pressure but benefiting from the overall cost-of-doing-business starting to ease. Improved sales were reported across all businesses. Margins were impacted by commodity price increases for products such as tomatoes, pasta and flour. Capital investment (capin) was focused on maintenance in plant, machinery and equipment, vehicles. A new Rome depot is in the process of development, which will be fully operational in H2.

Poland delivered sales and profitability increases, with the biggest growth contribution from the freetrade sector. Capin into improvements in the IT technologies, as well as warehouse capacity continued, with the opening of the new Wroclaw depot in the second quarter. Further solar investments into the Poznan depot, and additional "green efficiency" initiatives have been implemented. Cost pressures are not anticipated to ease, especially considering a national minimum wage increase of 18% effective January 2024.

Baltics foodservice operations in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia all reported improved sales, notably achieved in the independent horeca segment. Retail sales have performed well but a few one-off significant costs impacted profitability. An acquisition to grow the specialist product range in Latvia has been identified and the due diligence is underway.

Spain has maintained the positive momentum of the prior year across all operations. Guzman pleasingly continues to report monthly profits, and despite the loss of a few customers, has increased sales in the independent and hotel sectors by more than 20%. The new management team has implemented efficiencies and controlled costs downward to improve overall performance. Igartza has seen a tougher trading environment but remains profitable. The Euskopan acquisition has bedded down well. Inflation is not easing, but market share growth is the focus and embracing synergies within the three operations. Bolt-on acquisitions are under consideration.

Portugal, although navigating dampened economic activity, has shown pleasing growth. Pricing strategies and market positioning continues to be management's focus. Investing for growth continues, with approvals received to proceed with the new Sintra depot build and Porto progressing well. A bolt-on acquisition has been identified and negotiations are well underway.

Germany's results disappointed, with sales and trading profit slightly down on the prior period. Restructuring of the current depot footprint and creating cross-dock capacity is expected to create efficiencies. A small acquisition of a bakery specialist business (with effect from January 2024) is anticipated to create cross-selling opportunities.

Emerging Markets

Emerging Markets delivered a solid overall performance despite economic challenges in several markets. Revenue was up 11,8% to R17,1 billion (H1F2023: R15,3 billion) and trading profit up 4,0% to R930 million (H1F2023: R894 million).

Bidcorp Food Africa (BFA including Bidfood and Crown Food Group) achieved excellent results considering the overall environment in South Africa. Inflation is moderating but interest rates remain elevated, increasing the pressure on consumers' disposal income. Power blackouts continue. Avian influenza impacted availability and pricing of commercial poultry stock and eggs. Supply chain bottlenecks through the ports have impacted sales and production, all of which compounded stagnant growth rates.

Bidfood South Africa (Bidfood) delivered a commendable performance, despite the impact of avian flu and a weaker Christmas period, evidence of the pressure on patrons' disposable income. Bidfood's margin and expense management has been excellent. An acquisition of a frozen foodservice business in the Eastern Cape is underway and should complete in Q4F2024. Investment into security and digital enhancements of the IT environment continue. Investment in human capital and transformation is ongoing. The Johannesburg South Bidfood multi-temp facility occupation is planned for April 2024. Competitive activity into H2 will intensify as operators fight for market share.

Crown Food Group (CFG) delivered an excellent second quarter and half year results notwithstanding the supply chain challenges. Margin management improved and cost control was good. Both the lower beef price and the avian flu impact on poultry products stimulated demand for the CFG products. Growth in manufactured products normalised with a consequent positive benefit on margins. Competition in the retail segment is fierce, intensified by competitors introducing their own brands to regain market share. Independent butcheries were impacted by the supply chain delays on certain products.

Chipkins Puratos (CP) (50% equity accounted) trade profit grew despite volumes being under pressure as customers struggle to operate through the ongoing power crisis and the avian influenza impact on the supply of eggs. Artisanal channels benefited from increased demand for speciality fats, sugars and yeast, with declines in pâtisserie mixes and vegetable creams. Focus continues in growing the own manufactured product range.

Greater China's (including Hong Kong) half-year performance was below expectations, largely attributable to the fiscal pressures facing the economy, a bleak export outlook and dampened private sector confidence. There are some glimmers of hope, in that most mainland operations outperformed their comparative Q2F2023. Ongoing efforts to expand the local supplier base continues, to mitigate the pricing risk of imported products. The newly appointed management team have settled well, placing focus on sales growth, cost management and focus on improving the control environment, strengthening processes and policies across the region. Management is optimistic of an improved H2.

Singapore has had a challenging half year. Outbound tourism contributed to the dampened growth, however, profitability has been protected through tight margin management and good cost control. Changes in senior leadership, although disruptive, has positioned the business for a marked second-half improvement.

Malaysia delivered good sales growth but at the expense of margins. Disruptions to supply chains due to the unrest in the Middle East, impacted product availability as well as the pricing of the range. Investing in marketing and brand knowledge awareness is key as we grow the footprint in this region. Capacity constraints in all three warehouses are impacting growth, however, investments to remedy this are underway.

Bidfood Middle East (BME) performed reasonably well in all operations delivering sales above the prior year but trading profits lagged behind. The unrest in the region has impacted supply chains and motivated local boycotts of American brands. Volatile salmon pricing put pressure on Wet Fish margins. Horeca UAE benefited from the diversification of their product range, expanding their customer base. Oman performed well, Bahrain was flat and Jordan struggled.

Türkiye continues to report sales growth in the local currency in an environment with high inflation headwinds. Expenses have been impacted by the new facilities brought on line in growing the footprint, combined with the rapid increase in interest rates and inflation, and coupled with the deflation of the Turkish lira. There is no expectation of these conditions abating soon. Minimum wage increases of 49% will impact costs and therefore pricing into H2. myBidfood rollout has been a success, with 64% of active customers engaging on this platform.

Brazil has experienced a volatile political climate which has stifled economic activity and reduced market confidence. Sales were flat but tight margin management delivered a pleasing trading profit. Restructuring the sales team to reinvigorate incentivisation and to onboard the recently appointed culinary specialists is underway, expected to drive growth in the second half. Management is investigating a bolt-on acquisition to bolster the Paulina branch while also exploring expansion opportunities beyond the São Paulo area.

Chile's economic outlook has started to improve, and with the currency stabilising and inflation easing, consumer confidence is growing, especially in the independent horeca market. Re-examining the product range and embracing procurement efficiencies has benefited margins. Expenses were up except for warehouse expenses which benefited from the tighter inventory controls recently implemented. Efforts to optimise the purchasing and pricing of the protein range remains a key focus.

Argentina (46% equity accounted), following the completion of the local elections, embraced the positive economic respite, with sales and profits reflecting this uptick. The currency devaluation makes Argentina a much sought-after international tourist destination, with our Puerto Iguazú and Ushuaia branches benefiting. Acquisition opportunities are not plentiful, but our teams are resilient and will continue to keep watch.


BidOne, under new leadership, is focusing on strategic projects aligned with four key goals being: "Performance, Personalisation, Data and Product". The BidOne operation continues to develop to complement our operations, positioned around the world, in delivering a world-class online ecommerce engagement platform.

Bidfood Procurement Community (BPC) continues to grow engagement with and relationship with all the Bidfood procurement teams, identifying and supporting opportunities to improve product sourcing, supply and pricing. Developing product categories, product knowledge and insight continues, as well as researching and confirming suppliers' compliance with internationally recognised food safety accreditations, aligning with the group's food safety standards.

BL Berson
Chief executive officer

DE Cleasby
Chief financial officer

Dividend declaration

In line with the group dividend policy, the directors declared an interim cash dividend of 525,0 cents (420,0 cents net of dividend withholding tax, where applicable) per ordinary share for the six months ended December 31  2023 to those members registered on the record date, being Friday, March 22  2024.

The dividend will be paid out of income reserves. A dividend withholding tax of 20% is applicable to all shareholders who are not exempt.

Share code: BID
ISIN: ZAE000216537
Company registration number: 1995/008615/06
Company tax reference number: 9040946841
Gross cash dividend amount per share: 525,0 cents
Net dividend amount per share: 420,0 cents
Issued shares at declaration date: 335 404 212
Declaration date: Wednesday, February 21  2024
Last day to trade cum dividend on the JSE: Monday, March 18  2024
First trading day ex-dividend on the JSE: Tuesday, March 19  2024
Record date: Friday, March 22  2024
Payment date: Monday, March 25  2024

Share certificates may not be dematerialised or rematerialised between Tuesday, March 19  2024 to Friday, March 22   2024, both days inclusive.

For and on behalf of the board

AK Biggs
Company secretary representative

February 21  2024