Vitasoy Recorded a Consistent Business Growth with Acceleration across Categories and Geographies

HONG KONG, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — 

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Vitasoy International Holdings Limited ("VIHL" or "the Group") (SEHK Code: 0345), a Hong Kong-based manufacturer, marketer and distributor of non-carbonated beverages and food, today announced its audited annual results for the year ended 31st March 2014.

During the year, VIHL recorded a consistent strong growth of 11% in net sales to HK$4,494 million and achieved acceleration across core categories and markets. The gross margin increased 13% to HK$2,175 million, while profit attributable to equity shareholders improved by 2% to HK$307 million. The Group maintained its gross profit margin at last year’s level of 48% attributed by the use of tactful pricing strategy and improved manufacturing efficiency.

"We forged ahead our business with strong execution focusing on core brands and key products despite a slower macroeconomic growth and rising commodity and labour costs. During the year, we focused our investment and innovation in our core categories of Soy/Plant Milk, Tofu and Tea and introduced more nutritional products to appeal to consumer needs. In terms of geographical development, our Mainland China business has accelerated gradually, while Hong Kong and Australia continued to sustain their performance and local leadership position. The North American have successfully restored profitability and Singapore operations maintained the business growth," said Mr. Winston Yau-lai Lo, Executive Chairman of VIHL.

Basic earnings per ordinary share were HK$29.8 cents for the period. The Board of Directors of VIHL proposed the payment of a final dividend of HK$17.0 cents per ordinary share (FY2012/13: HK$16.6 cents per ordinary share) for the year ended 31st March 2014. Together with the interim dividend of HK$3.2 cents per ordinary share, the total dividend per ordinary share amounted to HK$20.2 cents (FY2012/13: HK$19.8 cents per ordinary share).

Business Review

Hong Kong Consistent growth driven by focusing on core categories and in-store execution

The Hong Kong operation reported a 6% sales growth to HK$1,899 million. The Group’s efforts in growing its soy milk and ready-to-drink tea categories have resulted in a stronger market leadership position. VITASOY CALCI-PLUS have reported the strongest sales growth within soy category, whilst SANSUI achieving the leadership position in the fresh soy drink segment. In the last financial year, Vitasoy Hong Kong’s operating profit grew by 9% to HK$348 million.

In terms of new product and packaging, the Hong Kong operation has recently launched a new PET packaging for VITASOY soymilk and an innovative VITA Hong Kong Style Milk Tea to expand the Tea offerings.

The operating profit of Vitaland Group, a subsidiary of VIHL in school tuck shop business, has grown profitably, primarily driven by its dedicated efforts in driving new school accounts and school renewals, improved product mix and better planning labour and raw materials.

Mr. Roberto Guidetti, VIHL Group Chief Executive Officer, said, "We will keep strengthening our leadership position of our core brands across channels and packaging formats. Packaging innovation, brand execution and distribution expansion are crucial to further drive the growth of our core categories."

Mainland China — Acceleration via innovation, execution and expansion

The Mainland China business maintained its strong growth momentum in the midst of a challenging operating environment and reported a 28% increase in net sales revenue to HK$1,505 million and 19% growth in operating profit to HK$145 million respectively. The "Go Deep, Go Wide" strategy has driven the Group’s growth in business and making inroads into new territories, such as Jiangsu, Anhui, Hebei, Wuhan and Fujian.

During the year, Vitasoy China focused on unifying the VITASOY regional programs into a national one and rolled out a new communication campaign emphasising the product’s unique functional benefits. In addition, a brand restage program which used new packaging graphics harmonizing with Hong Kong’s VITASOY brand equities has increased the brand awareness in Mainland China.

On the product front, the operation’s renewed execution and expansion of VITA Lemon Tea has resulted in the strong growth beyond the previous Guangdong borders and successfully adding a new revenue stream for VIHL.

"We will continue to accelerate business growth using our proven business model in Mainland China and focus on delivering a sustainable performance. We will also strengthen our execution, expansion and innovation in order to drive growth and build brand visibility, and raise the operational capabilities of our production bases," said Mr. Guidetti.

Australia and New Zealand — Solid growth behind VITASOY restage, offset by weakened Australia dollar

Vitasoy Australia reported a 7% increase in sales revenue and 9% increase in operating profit in Australian dollar respectively. However, as impacted by currency depreciation, the operation recorded a decrease of 5% to HK$492 million in revenue and a drop of 1% to HK$87 million in operating profit.

During the year under review, the operation restaged its core Organic VITASOY range by leveraging the Australian grown whole bean proposition. Launch of new product packaging and an integrated TV campaign has helped the brand securing its number 1 position in the Soymilk market.  In addition, the VITASOY Oatmilk range has also been leading the market share in the category. Vitasoy has introduced a new "Organic" variant of CAFE for BARISTAS in the premium cafe market.

"Looking ahead, we will continue to bring innovative products, focus on the execution in grocery channels and drive the growth in coffee channels," Mr. Guidetti added.

North America — Sustaining top line growth whilst restoring profitability

Vitasoy USA recorded a 6% increase in net sales revenue to HK$513 million and reported an operating profit of HK$7 million, mainly attributed by the volume growth and improved manufacturing and logistic efficiency.

During the year, the operation restaged NASOYA Tofu and launched a new packaging design. Vitasoy USA has secured a strong year of solid sales growth across all business channels and expanded the leading market position in both the US Tofu and Asian Pasta categories.

Mr. Guidetti said, "With our improved business base, we will continue to improve profitability of our North American business. We will increase our efforts in launching new value-added products in both Asian and mainstream markets and consumer communication campaigns. We will also continue our focus on further optimizing the manufacturing efficiency and reducing operating costs."

Singapore — Maintaining leadership, strengthening operations and increasing profitability

Unicurd, the Group’s wholly-owned subsidiary in Singapore, reported a 2% growth in net sales revenue to HK$85 million and 14% increase in operating profit to HK$8 million, attributed by a profitable product and channel mix as well as higher manufacturing efficiency. Unicurd will continue scaling up, adding important innovations and expanding the VITASOY franchise to drive business acceleration.


Mr. Winston Lo, Executive Chairman of VIHL, concluded, "Our growth in FY2013/2014 has given us a strong and solid base for future development. We are confident that our growth will continue to benefit from the tailwinds of healthy trend and the demand for nutritious foods, despite a mixed global macroeconomic outlook. In the coming year, we will focus on our cores, which comprise our commitment to product quality, brand equity, our expanded infrastructure, and the readiness and competence of our people, through execution, expansion and innovation, to secure a long term success."