FUTURE OUTLOOK - JSE MAGAZINE

FUTURE OUTLOOK

The Omnia Group’s strategic focus is charting an unwavering path towards sustainable growth

Multinational diversified chemicals business Omnia Group boasts a compelling seven-decade legacy and is looking towards an even more successful future, characterised by greater innovation and significant growth. As a visionary leader, Omnia Group CEO Seelan Gobalsamy has employed his decades-long leadership track record of managing complex businesses to lead the successful turnaround of Omnia. Now, with the business focused squarely on the future, Omnia’s strategic direction is centred on driving business performance forward. For Gobalsamy, the guiding philosophy that informs the strategic direction of the business begins with its purpose. For Omnia, that purpose is protecting life, sustaining livelihoods and, ultimately, creating a better world. This purpose stems from a deep desire to address socio-economic issues such as protecting food security and driving efficiencies across key primary economic sectors.

Seelan Gobalsamy, CEO of Omnia Holdings

Ensuring Omnia remains true to this, the group’s leadership team not only executes the business strategy but also nurtures the culture required to drive success, shifting gears if misalignments occur. To successfully be in a position to interrogate discrepancies, leaders require sharp instincts, along with judicious introspection, honesty and acknowledgement of shortcomings and inefficiencies relating to systems, processes, talent and partners.

The most important contributor towards the success or failure of a business, however, is its talent pool. Omnia’s shift to a high-performance culture played a crucial role in the turnaround of the business and will be the factor that accelerates its future success. Future-fitting a business is not just about finding and retaining the best of the best, but about rewarding them too. Omnia’s broad-based employee share scheme, called My Omnia Share, provides its dedicated employees with wealth creation and ownership opportunities that give them a share of the business growth and success their efforts have created, and will continue to create.

Last but not least, it is vital to leverage new technology trends, resources, strategic partnerships, third-party expertise, distribution channels, networks and intelligence in order to do more with less than before. Doing so enables the business to fast-track tangible results.

Turning a strategic philosophy into strategic execution
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in widespread disruption to business continuity. Yet, at the same time, it has also created opportunities for enterprising leaders to reconsider what strategic action or direction changes will be required for their company’s future fitness. Omnia is testament to this. With its new direction and well-executed strategic  imperatives, Omnia delivered a strong financial and operational performance as noted in its interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2021. The group’s revenue increased 31% to R9.9 billion, while operating profit rose by 70% to R679 million. Omnia’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, excluding impairments from continuing operations, increased 35% to R1 042 million, while headline earnings per share from continuing operations more than doubled to 286 cents.

Moreover, Omnia’s shift to an integrated supply-chain approach and its focus on profitable activities and removal of non-essential ones resulted in, among others, Omnia being in a strong net cash position of R719 million at the end of the reporting period, compared with net debt of R1.9 billion for the prior period. The ability to side-step repeated mistakes and harness strategic partnerships, among others, resulted in continued strong cash generation from operations of R890 million, as well as net working capital being reduced by a further R700 million to R3 billion.

One driver behind Omnia’s growth is its range of industry-leading biostimulants

The post-pandemic future looks bright
Beyond the new strategic direction and a focus on execution having an immediate impact on the performance of the business, the company’s future international growth prospects are also ramping up.

On the agriculture side, rising volumes globally in the innovative biostimulant product range that is manufactured in Australia drove increased revenue in the international agriculture segment of Omnia’s interim results. Looking ahead, this innovative offering of specialty fertilisers, biostimulants (including humates and fulvates) and other plant health products will remain one of the drivers of the group’s growth. Alongside this, Omnia’s industry-leading biostimulant footprint will continue to bring innovative agricultural solutions to farmers worldwide, bolstering their yields, sustainably improving soil health, and supporting food security globally. Additionally, in the mining segment, expansion opportunities have been identified within SADC for both surface and underground mining, while growth is anticipated in Canada, after the commissioning of underground trial equipment, as well as mobilisation of a large contract. Growth is also on the agenda within Indonesia, courtesy of strategic partnerships to build scale in selected markets around the globe.

Ultimately, the strategic-direction base of the business has successfully helped it navigate a complex global environment. The business is in a strong position to build on that foundation of success to catalyse sustainable and innovative growth across the group, into the future.

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