Pleasing strides have been made in implementing the Grindrod strategy to refocus and build the two core businesses of Freight Services and Bank in what must be described as the most difficult environment in which to operate.
The Freight Services business has focused on customer solutions along the trade corridors, with significant progress being made on the rail corridors within sub-Saharan Africa and in northern Mozambique. The container and agency businesses likewise made great strides in developing their relationship with the shipping lines to the benefit of the southern African markets and products.
The Board is extremely pleased with the strategic progress in both the Freight Services and Bank businesses to re-establish the core and address growth. Under the stewardship of Xolani Mbambo, we are comfortable that Freight Services is on a strong path. Similarly, as a result of David Polkinghorne’s leadership over many years, the Bank continues with exploring opportunities that align to their strategic growth plan.
A significant part of implementing Grindrod’s strategy and restoring shareholder value has been to find new shareholders for the businesses that are no longer core to the refocused Freight Services and Bank. All disposal processes are being driven with third party assistance and whilst some progress has been made, the Board has encouraged management to double its efforts in this area.
Andrew Waller addresses the operational achievements in his CEO report. However, as mentioned, the businesses operated in a most difficult environment and the Board has commended management on the manner in which they took decisive and proactive steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on our employees and other Grindrod stakeholders since the outbreak of the pandemic. Grindrod’s COVID-19 related actions are reported in the Our People section. I want to express my deep condolences to the family and friends of the four employees who passed away in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. I am further saddened to report one fatality in the course of business – that of Mr Moses Uiseb, a valued Grindrod Stevedoring Namibia employee. My sincere condolences go to his family and friends.
The Board is satisfied that the Grindrod governance structure provides a clear framework within which to manage the business, in line with our values of transparency, respect, integrity, professionalism, fairness and accountability. These values are supported by sustainability measures to ensure the health and safety of stakeholders, to respect people and communities and to minimise the impact of our business on the environment. Detailed committee reports are included in the Integrated Annual Report.
Grindrod continues to support social investments that favour education and environmental projects, through three major beneficiaries, the Adopt-a-School Foundation, the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust and the Wildlands Conservation Trust Blue Fund. This corporate drive is supplemented by generous donations by staff to reach out to communities around our operations. The decrease in the social responsibility spend for 2020 relates primarily to contributions initially earmarked for education infrastructure projects which were delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown. These projects have, however, resumed in 2021.
2021 has commenced with the same fervour that we experienced towards the end of the reporting year. Grindrod has embarked on a refreshed strategic and brand alignment process bringing renewed purpose and reinforcing our reason for being. I look forward with great positivity to the year ahead.
Once again, I thank the Grindrod team for their dedication and focus and commend the executives and management for leading by example.
Thank you to the Board members for their wisdom in delivering on their mandate. I wish Mkhuseli Faku, who retired from the board in December 2020 after a valuable 10-year tenure, the very best for the future.
09 April 2021