Senior Business Reporter
AGRICULTURAL concern, Ariston Holdings, says it is now seeking regulatory approval for a transaction to dispose of its 50 percent stake in Claremont Orchards to a Dutch company, Tuinbouw Zonder Grenzen BV.
Usually, transactions of this nature require regulatory approvals from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Competitions and Tariff Commission of Zimbabwe (CTC).
“The company is now in the process of seeking regulatory approvals for the transaction.
“The transaction will enable Ariston Holdings Limited to receive cash for its 50 percent equity which will be used in further macadamia and avocado orchard development,” the group said.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed agro-industrial concern is looking to grow its export market while increasing its local share.
Claremont is one of the country’s biggest producers of stone fruit as well as pome fruits such as apples, while the Netherlands is one of the countries that is largely invested in importing avocados from Zimbabwe.
According to the latest figures released by ZimStats, the country exported 1 725 580kgs of the fruit equivalent to US$820 614 in June 2021 from the US$526 064 recorded in May 2021 worth of avocados alone as it proves to be a lucrative market for external trade.
In its half year financials to March 31, 2021, Ariston’s revenue grew 64 percent compared to the prior period mainly by increase in sales of local products.
Cost of sales decrease at 37 percent was significantly behind revenue growth and reflects the impact of cost containment activities which resulted in gross margin improvement to 63 percent compared to 34 percent in the prior comparative period.
The fruit category’s production volumes of 2 288 tonnes for the current half year improved by 12 percent when compared with the prior comparative period.
This category comprises stone fruit and pome fruit.
Both fruits registered growth of 17 percent and 5 percent respectively as yields continue to improve.
“The selling period for stone fruit coincided with the lockdown promulgated by the Government in January 2021 and this had an adverse effect on fruit uptake in the market,” the company noted.
It added that unfortunately, most of the export markets were also depressed due to Covid-19 lockdowns implemented in various countries.
“As a result, stone fruit sales volume suffered a 14 percent decline compared to the prior comparative period.”
Pome fruit was unaffected and the category registered a 6 percent improvement in average selling price when compared with the prior comparative period.