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Share Name Share Symbol Market Type Share ISIN Share Description
Nichols Plc LSE:NICL London Ordinary Share GB0006389398 ORD 10P
  Price Change % Change Share Price Bid Price Offer Price High Price Low Price Open Price Shares Traded Last Trade
  40.00 3.81% 1,090.00 1,090.00 1,115.00 1,140.00 1,095.00 1,115.00 63,699 16:35:06
Industry Sector Turnover (m) Profit (m) EPS - Basic PE Ratio Market Cap (m)
Beverages 147.0 32.4 72.8 15.0 402

Nichols PLC 2020 Interim Results & Board Changes

22/07/2020 7:00am

UK Regulatory (RNS & others)


Nichols (LSE:NICL)
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TIDMNICL

RNS Number : 6829T

Nichols PLC

22 July 2020

22 July 2020

Nichols plc

2020 INTERIM RESULTS & BOARD CHANGES

Strong Vimto brand growth and resilient cash performance through an unprecedented period

Nichols plc ('Nichols' or the 'Group'), the diversified soft drinks Group, announces its Unaudited Interim Results for the half year ended 30 June 2020 (the 'period').

 
                                  Half Year       Half Year     Movement 
                                    ended           ended 
                                 30 June 2020    30 June 2019 
                                    GBPm            GBPm 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 
 Group Revenue                      59.2            71.6         (17.3%) 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 
 Adjusted Operating Profit 
  *1                                 6.8            13.3         (48.9%) 
-----------------------------  --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 Operating Profit                    3.0            13.3         (77.4%) 
-----------------------------  --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 
 Adjusted Profit Before 
  Tax (PBT) *1                       6.8            13.3         (48.9%) 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 Profit Before Tax (PBT)             2.9            13.3         (78.2%) 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 
 Adjusted PBT Margin *1             11.5%           18.6%       (7.1bps) 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 PBT Margin                         4.9%            18.6%       (13.7bps) 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 
 EBITDA *2                           9.3            15.3         (39.2%) 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 
 Adjusted earnings per share 
  (basic)                          14.94p          29.63p        (49.6%) 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 Earnings per share (basic)         4.59p          29.63p        (84.5%) 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 
 Net Cash *3                        46.8           40.9 *3       +14.4% 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 Interim dividend                   28.0p           12.4p        +125.8% 
                               --------------  --------------  ---------- 
 

Headlines

   --    Vimto Brand Value in the UK +6.6% versus soft drink market of +1.3% *4 

-- Vimto Brand 'in-market' Middle East sales remain resilient through Ramadan despite Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT) and Covid-19 restrictions

   --    Vimto in Africa delivers strong revenue growth +8.7% versus H1 2019 

-- Out of Home (OoH) effectively closed in Q2 with fixed costs weighing heavily on overall financial performance

   --   Strong cash performance in the period, Free Cash Flow *5 +GBP6.7m, Cash Conversion *6  at 121% 
   --   Exceptional non-cash Impairment of Feel Good Goodwill and Intangible Assets of GBP3.8m 
   --    Dividend re-instated 
   --    Continued uncertainty for H2 outlook, guidance remains withdrawn 
   --    Andrew Milne (current COO) will succeed Marnie Millard OBE as CEO from 1 January 2021 

*1 Excluding Exceptional items of impairment charges of GBP3.8m (2019: GBPnil).

*2 EBITDA is the statutory profit before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation.

*3 Net Cash excludes IFRS 16 liabilities. The comparison is to 31 December 2019. All other comparatives compare to the six months ending 30 June 2019 unless otherwise stated.

*4 Nielsen Total Coverage Year to Date 13.6.2020.

*5 Free Cash Flow is the net increase in cash and cash equivalents adjusting acquisition funding and dividends.

*6 Cash Conversion is the Free Cash Flow/ Adjusted Profit After Tax

John Nichols, Non-Executive Chairman, said:

"Our first and most important objective through this unprecedented period has been the protection and wellbeing of our employees and customers. Throughout these most difficult of times, our colleagues have once again demonstrated their values and commitment and I would like to wholeheartedly thank everyone for their current and future efforts.

In light of the ongoing impact to the financial results of the Group due to the global pandemic, the Board remains pleased with the Group's performance. Although the immediate future remains uncertain, we are confident in Nichols' ability to emerge from this period well-placed to continue to deliver the Group's long-term strategic plan.

On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Marnie for her significant contribution to the Group over the last seven years and wish Andrew every success in leading the business during the next phase of its development. Marnie will now commence her handover to ensure a smooth transition."

Chairman's Statement

The strength of the Vimto brand, robust balance sheet and diversified business model has ensured a resilient cash performance in the period despite the unprecedented trading conditions across our markets. We have seen the Vimto brand significantly outperform the market in the UK, deliver good growth in Africa and perform robustly in the Middle East despite the challenges of the SBT and Covid-19 restrictions. Cash balances have grown strongly to GBP46.8m (FY 2019: GBP40.9m) as management took prudent steps to conserve cash throughout Q2 in response to Covid-19.

Trading

Ahead of the worldwide introduction of restrictions on the movement of people and requirements for social distancing measures, the Group's revenue progression was strong with Q1 reporting a 6.2% increase versus Q1 in the prior year. Q2 revenues, however, experienced a 35.2% decrease compared to the prior year Q2.

Total Group revenue for the period decreased by 17.3% to GBP59.2m against the prior period (H1 2019: GBP71.6m). The Group has been impacted by the effects of Covid-19 in both the carbonates and still product categories, driven by OoH performance, coupled with the introduction of the SBT in the Middle East. Revenue from carbonated products is down 28.8% to GBP26.8m (H1 2019: GBP37.7m) and sales of still products decreased by 4.6% to GBP32.4m (H1 2019: GBP33.9m).

In the UK, revenue decreased by 19.7% versus last year to GBP45.9m (H1 2019: GBP57.1m). However, within this, the Vimto brand's value increased by 6.6% year to date against a soft drinks market performance of +1.3% (Nielsen to 13.06.2020), driving further market share gains.

Sales across our International markets were GBP13.3m, a decrease of 8.1% versus the prior year (H1 2019: GBP14.5m), which is as a result of the impact of funding support agreed with our partner in the Middle East following the introduction of the SBT. Despite Covid-19 restrictions in the Middle East, the Vimto brand was resilient throughout Ramadan and 'in-market' sales were broadly flat with the prior year, which, combined with the African sales growth of 8.7% to GBP8.3m (H1 2019: GBP7.6m), demonstrates the strength of the Vimto brand internationally.

Impact of Covid-19

The spread of Covid-19 across the UK and the subsequent lockdown and social distancing measures implemented by the Government have had a significant impact on the Group. The OoH route to market was effectively closed from 23 March and a large proportion of the team were furloughed. Other employees have worked very effectively from home and high levels of service have continued to be provided to all of our customers. The majority of furloughed employees have now returned to work.

The revenue impact from the OoH closure has been seen across both the Stills and Carbonates segments but has had a larger impact on Carbonates which are down 28.8% to GBP26.8m (H1 2019: GBP37.7m) versus the prior year. The Stills segment is down 4.6% to GBP32.4m (H1 2019: GBP33.9m).

Further detail concerning the financial impact of Covid-19 on the Group's Interim Results is provided in Note 3 to the financial statements later in this notice.

Profit

The Group has placed strong focus on controlling overhead costs whilst respecting the principle of ensuring the business is able to 'Build Back Better' post the pandemic. Management focused on reducing discretionary spend and realigning marketing investment to H2 2020 and FY 2021 activities. Overheads were 8.0% lower than H1 2019.

Following a strategic review of the Group's 'Feel Good' Brand and it's recognition as a separate Cash Generating Unit ('CGU'), the Group has incurred an impairment to Goodwill and Intangible Assets of its 'Feel Good' Brand of GBP3.8m. Due to the nature of this charge the Board are treating this non-cash item as an exceptional cost and its impact is removed in all the adjusted measures included in this report. We remain committed to the 'Feel Good' Brand which has recently been relaunched in the UK.

Adjusted Profit Before Tax of GBP6.8m decreased by 48.9% versus the prior period (H1 2019: GBP13.3m).

Profit Before Tax of GBP2.9m decreased by 78.2% compared to the prior period (H1 2019: GBP13.3m).

Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) decreased by 39.2% to GBP9.3m (H1 2019: GBP15.3m).

Cash

Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the period were GBP46.8m (H1 2019: GBP29.5m) from GBP40.9m at the 2019 Year End. The Group focused on cash management throughout H1 2020 with particular emphasis on protecting cash flow over the critical spring and summer trading periods, given the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 restrictions.

The Group took mitigating actions to conserve cash including the withdrawal of the final dividend from 2019 (conserving GBP10.4m of cash), focus on working capital management, particularly outstanding year end balances and the restriction of non-essential capital expenditure. The result of this was Free Cash Flow of GBP6.7m and a cash conversion of 121%.

The Group concluded a prior year insurance claim during the period which provided GBP2.0m of cash (no 2020 income statement impact).

Dividend

The Board made the decision to withdraw the final dividend (28.0p) for 2019 in March 2020 due to the uncertainties concerning the financial impact of Covid-19.

In the context of dividend policy and payment, it is our intention to consider the two financial years 2019 and 2020 as a single review period given the overlap of the two years in terms of dividend payments. We paid an interim dividend of 12.4p in August 2019.

As a result of the Adjusted Profit After Tax in H1 2020 and our strong cash performance we are now able, with confidence, to reinstate the value of the final proposed dividend from 2019 of 28.0p as the interim dividend for 2020. This will be paid on 4 September 2020 with a record date of 31 July 2020.

Any final dividend proposal (February 2021) will be in line with our dividend policy and be based on the two years financial performance adjusted for payments already made.

Board Changes and Relationship Agreement

After seven years with the Group as CEO, Marnie Millard has informed the Board of her intention to leave the Group. Marnie will stand down as CEO and resign from the Board on 31 December 2020.

The Board is delighted to announce that Andrew Milne will be appointed as CEO of the Group with effect from 1 January 2021. Andrew is currently a Board Director and holds the position of Chief Operating Officer. He has been with the Group for seven years having joined in July 2013 as Commercial Director for Vimto Soft Drinks. Andrew has extensive experience in the soft drinks industry having also been Sales Director for the Northern region of Coca Cola Enterprises before joining the Group. Prior to that Andrew worked at GlaxoSmithKline as a Trading Director.

On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Marnie for her significant contribution to the Group in the last seven years and wish Andrew every success in leading the business during the next phase of its development.

As separately announced the Board has entered into a Relationship Agreement with the Nichols Family. The purpose of the Relationship Agreement is to formalise Board representation for the Nichols Family whilst also ensuring that the Group is capable of carrying on, at all times, its business independently. Therefore, the Board is pleased to announce the appointment of James Nichols to the Board as a Non-Executive Director with immediate effect. John Nichols remains as Non- Executive Chairman of the Group.

Outlook

Uncertainty remains concerning the outlook for H2, particularly in terms of the degree to which the OoH sector will recover and the development of the pandemic in Africa. As a result, the Board is still not in a position to provide financial guidance for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Despite the short-term impact to the financial performance of the Group as a result of the global pandemic, we remain confident in Nichols' ability to emerge from this period well-placed to continue to deliver the Group's long-term strategic plans.

John Nichols

Non-Executive Chairman, 21 July 2020.

Contacts

 
 
 Marnie Millard, Group Chief Executive Officer 
  Andrew Milne, Group Chief Operating Officer 
  David Rattigan, Group Chief Financial Officer 
 Nichols plc 
 Telephone: 0192 522 2222 
 Website: www.nicholsplc.co.uk 
 
 Alex Brennan / Hattie Dreyfus      Steve Pearce / Rachel Hayes 
 Hudson Sandler                     N+1 Singer (Nominated Adviser) 
 Telephone: 0207 796 4133           Telephone: 0207 496 3000 
 Email: nichols@hudsonsandler.com   Website: www.n1singer.com 
 

Notes to Editors:

Nichols plc is an international soft drinks business with sales in over 85 countries, selling products in both the Still and Carbonate categories. The Group is home to the iconic Vimto brand which is popular in the UK and around the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. Other brands in its portfolio include Feel Good, Starslush, ICEE, Levi Roots and Sunkist.

This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 596/2014.

CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENT

 
                                         Unaudited                 Unaudited       Audited 
 
                                          Half year                Half year     Full year 
                                            ended                      ended         ended 
                                        30-Jun-2020              30-Jun-2019   31-Dec-2019 
                              Adjusted   Exceptional     Total         Total         Total 
 
                               GBP'000       GBP'000   GBP'000       GBP'000       GBP'000 
 
 Revenue                        59,213             -    59,213        71,611       146,985 
 
 Gross Profit                   24,572             -    24,572        32,273        69,958 
 Operating profit 
  (pre-exceptional 
  items)                         6,787             -     6,787        13,337        32,439 
 Exceptional items                   -       (3,820)   (3,820)             -             - 
                             ---------  ------------  --------  ------------  ------------ 
 Operating profit                6,787       (3,820)     2,967        13,337        32,439 
 Finance income                    113             -       113           120           235 
 Finance expense                 (139)             -     (139)         (118)         (252) 
 
 Profit before taxation          6,761       (3,820)     2,941        13,339        32,422 
                             ---------  ------------  --------  ------------  ------------ 
 
 Taxation                      (1,244)             -   (1,244)       (2,419)       (5,587) 
 
 Profit for the financial 
 period                          5,517       (3,820)     1,697        10,920        26,835 
                             ---------  ------------  --------  ------------  ------------ 
 
 
 
 
 Earnings per share 
  (basic)                       14.94p             -     4.59p        29.63p        72.81p 
 
 
 Earnings per share 
  (diluted)                     14.93p             -     4.59p        29.62p        72.77p 
 
 Dividends paid per 
  share                          28.0p             -     28.0p        26.80p        28.09p 
 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME

 
                                                                             Unaudited     Unaudited       Audited 
 
                                                                             Half year     Half year     Full year 
                                                                                 ended         ended         ended 
                                                                           30-Jun-2020   30-Jun-2019   31-Dec-2019 
 
                                                                               GBP'000       GBP'000       GBP'000 
 
Profit for the financial period                                                  1,697        10,920        26,835 
 Items that will not be reclassified subsequently to profit or loss: 
  Re-measurement of net 
  defined benefit liability                                                    (2,347)             -         1,704 
 
Deferred taxation on pension obligations and employee benefits                     295             -         (297) 
 
Other comprehensive (expense) / income for the period                          (2,052)             -         1,407 
 
 Total comprehensive (expense) / income for the period                           (355)        10,920        28,242 
 
 
   CONSOLIDATED   STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL POSITION 
 
                                  Unaudited    Unaudited      Audited 
                                30-Jun-2020  30-Jun-2019  31-Dec-2019 
 
                                    GBP'000      GBP'000      GBP'000 
ASSETS 
Non-current assets 
Property, plant and equipment        22,002       20,885       21,742 
Goodwill                             36,081       38,585       38,585 
Intangibles                           6,470        8,414        8,065 
Deferred tax assets                     578          835          283 
 
Total non-current assets             65,131       68,719       68,675 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
 
Current assets 
Inventories                           6,787        8,767        8,361 
Trade and other receivables          33,745       42,440       38,363 
Cash and cash equivalents            46,781       29,504       40,944 
 
Total current assets                 87,313       80,711       87,668 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
 
Total assets                        152,444      149,430      156,343 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
 
LIABILITIES 
Current liabilities 
Trade and other payables             20,746       26,437       23,260 
Current tax liabilities                   -        2,531        2,675 
Total current liabilities            20,746       28,968       25,935 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
 
Non-current liabilities 
Other payables                        3,073        3,093        3,028 
Pension obligations                   1,880        2,215          253 
Deferred tax liabilities              1,701        2,013        1,785 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
Total non-current liabilities         6,654        7,321        5,066 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
 
Total liabilities                    27,400       36,289       31,001 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
 
Net assets                          125,044      113,141      125,342 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
 
EQUITY 
Share capital                         3,697        3,697        3,697 
Share premium reserve                 3,255        3,255        3,255 
Capital redemption reserve            1,209        1,209        1,209 
Other reserves                          310          666          253 
Retained earnings                   116,573      104,314      116,928 
Total equity                        125,044      113,141      125,342 
                                -----------  -----------  ----------- 
 
 

STATEMENT OF CHANGES IN EQUITY

 
 
                                      Share premium  Capital redemption                   Retained    Total 
                       Share capital        reserve             reserve  Other reserves   earnings   equity 
 
                             GBP'000        GBP'000             GBP'000         GBP'000    GBP'000  GBP'000 
 
At 1 January 2019              3,697          3,255               1,209             666    103,283  112,110 
Dividends                          -              -                   -               -    (9,889)  (9,889) 
Movement in ESOT                   -              -                   -               -          -        - 
Share based payments               -              -                   -               -          -        - 
Profit for the year                -              -                   -               -     10,920   10,920 
Other comprehensive 
 income                            -              -                   -               -          -        - 
 
At 30 June 2019                3,697          3,255               1,209             666    104,314  113,141 
                       -------------  -------------  ------------------  --------------  ---------  ------- 
 
 
                                      Share premium  Capital redemption                   Retained    Total 
                       Share capital        reserve             reserve  Other reserves   earnings   equity 
 
                             GBP'000        GBP'000             GBP'000         GBP'000    GBP'000  GBP'000 
 
At 1 January 2020              3,697          3,255               1,209             253    116,928  125,342 
Dividends                          -              -                   -               -          -        - 
Movement in ESOT                   -              -                   -               3          -        3 
Share based payments               -              -                   -              54          -       54 
Profit for the year                -              -                   -               -      1,697    1,697 
Other comprehensive 
 expense                           -              -                   -               -    (2,052)  (2,052) 
 
At 30 June 2020                3,697          3,255               1,209             310    116,573  125,044 
                       -------------  -------------  ------------------  --------------  ---------  ------- 
 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF CASH FLOWS

 
                                                               Unaudited              Unaudited                Audited 
 
                                                         Half year ended        Half year ended        Full year ended 
                                                             30-Jun-2020            30-Jun-2019            31-Dec-2019 
 
                                                      GBP'000    GBP'000    GBP'000     GBP'000     GBP'000    GBP'000 
 
Profit for the financial period                                    1,697                 10,920                 26,835 
 
Cash flows from operating activities 
Adjustments for: 
Depreciation and amortisation                           2,434                 2,009                   4,541 
Impairment of goodwill and intangibles                  3,820                     -                       - 
Loss on sale of property, plant and equipment              58                     2                      19 
Finance income                                          (113)                 (120)                   (235) 
Finance expense                                           139                   118                     252 
Tax expense recognised in the income statement          1,244                 2,419                   5,587 
Change in inventories                                   1,574               (1,332)                   (925) 
Change in trade and other receivables                   4,659               (2,812)                   1,263 
Change in trade and other payables                    (1,677)                 1,008                 (2,463) 
Change in pension obligations                           (720)                 (540)                   (798) 
--------------------------------------------------  ---------  ---------  ---------  ----------  ----------  --------- 
                                                                  11,418                    752                  7,241 
 
Cash generated from operating activities                          13,115                 11,672                 34,076 
 
Tax paid                                                         (4,047)                (2,760)                (5,887) 
--------------------------------------------------  ---------  ---------  ---------  ----------  ----------  --------- 
Net cash generated from operating activities                       9,068                  8,912                 28,189 
 
Cash flows from investing activities 
Finance income                                            113                   120                     235 
Acquisition of property, plant and equipment          (1,888)               (3,288)                      11 
Acquisition of trade and assets                             -                     -                 (5,910) 
Acquisition of subsidiaries                                 -               (4,718)                 (4,893) 
Payment of deferred consideration (Note 9)              (880)                     -                       - 
Net cash used in investing activities                            (2,655)                (7,886)               (10,557) 
 
Cash flows from financing activities 
Payment of lease liabilities                            (576)                 (529)                 (1,118) 
Dividends paid                                              -               (9,889)                (14,466) 
--------------------------------------------------  ---------  ---------  ---------  ----------  ----------  --------- 
Net cash used in financing activities                              (576)               (10,418)               (15,584) 
 
Net increase / (decrease) in cash and cash 
 equivalents                                                       5,837                (9,392)                  2,048 
Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period                  40,944                 38,896                 38,896 
--------------------------------------------------  ---------  ---------  ---------  ----------  ----------  --------- 
Cash and cash equivalents at end of period                        46,781                 29,504                 40,944 
--------------------------------------------------  ---------  ---------  ---------  ----------  ----------  --------- 
 
 
 

NOTES

   1.         Basis of Preparation 

The financial information set out in this Interim Report does not constitute statutory accounts as defined in Section 434 of the Companies Act 2006. The Group's statutory financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2019, prepared under IFRS as adopted by the European Union, have been filed with the Registrar of Companies. The auditor's report on those financial statements was unqualified and did not contain a statement under Section 498 (2) or (3) of the Companies Act 2006.

This condensed consolidated interim financial report for the half-year reporting period ended 30 June 2020 has been prepared in accordance with International Accounting Standard (IAS) 34 'Interim Financial Reporting' as adopted by the European Union, and on the same basis and using the same accounting policies as used in the financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2019. The Interim Report has not been audited or reviewed in accordance with the International Standard on Review Engagement 2410 issued by the Auditing Practices Board.

The interim financial statements were authorised for issue by the board of directors on 21 July 2020.

   2.         Going Concern 

As at 30 June 2020, the Group remains in a strong position with net assets of GBP125.0m and liquidity of GBP46.8m of cash at bank. As at 30 June 2020 the Group has no external debt.

The current, unprecedented macro-economic environment and UK Government social distancing guidelines has created uncertainty in relation to consumer behaviour, particularly in Out of Home, and therefore the likely timing and extent of the sectors recovery.

Therefore, in performing their assessment of the appropriateness of adopting the going concern basis in preparing the interim report and financial statements, the Directors have reviewed and modelled a range of sensitised scenarios that consider the potential impact of COVID-19 over the next 12 months.

These scenarios include a base case which assumes a gradual re-opening of hospitality venues from 4 July 2020 with the Out of Home business slowly building back in the second half of the financial year. The worst-case scenario that has been considered is a second lockdown and the impact that this would have on the hospitality sector.

The Directors have taken steps to give additional financial flexibility including:

-- the decision made to cancel the 2019 final dividend and to review the reinstatement later in the year, now to be paid in September 2020 as the Interim Dividend for this year.

   --      use of the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

Even in the most severe scenarios of COVID-19 impact, the Group has more than sufficient headroom in its available resources for the foreseeable future being a period of at least 12 months from the date of the interim financial information. Accordingly, the Board are confident of the liquidity position of the Group.

Therefore, the Board consider it is appropriate, in preparing the interim report and financial statements, to adopt the going concern basis.

   3.         Impact of COVID-19 on Financial Statements 

In light of the effects of COVID-19 and social distancing measures on the Group's business and customers, the directors have considered the impact on the accounting judgements and estimates within the financial statements.

Expected credit loss provisions on the Group's trade receivables have been reviewed in light of potential increased risk of bad debt, particularly in relation to smaller independent customers. This has resulted in an increase in the provision by GBP0.7m since 31 December 2019.

Reductions in sales, particularly in Out of Home, have increased the amount of potentially out-of-date and obsolete stock held by the Group. This has resulted in an increase in stock provisions of GBP0.6m by 30 June 2020.

The Group has accessed the funds made available by the Government under the Job Retention Scheme. This was used to partially offset the payroll expense incurred for employees who were furloughed. At the peak in Q2 we had 220 employees furloughed. All employees furloughed were paid at 100% of their salaries. The financial contribution made by the Government from the scheme to Nichols was GBP0.9m in H1.

Due to the macroeconomic downturn in the period being a potential indicator of impairment, an impairment review has been performed for the interim financial statements. The details of this review are provided in note 7 below.

The defined benefit pension obligation could be materially affected by reductions in the value of the market investments of the scheme's assets and other assumptions used in the valuation of the obligation. Accordingly, a half-year valuation of the defined benefit obligation has been performed. The details of this valuation are provided in note 6 below.

   4.         Segmental Reporting 

The Board considers the business from a product perspective and reviews the Group's performance based on the operating segments identified below. There has been no change to the segments during the period. Based on the nature of the products sold by the Group, the types of customers and methods of distribution, management consider reporting operating segments at the Still and Carbonate level to be reasonable, particularly in light of market research and industry data made available by Nielsen. Gross profit is the measure used to assess the performance of each operating segment.

 
                                   Still   Carbonate     Group 
                                 GBP'000     GBP'000   GBP'000 
 Half year ended 30-Jun-2020 
 Sales                            32,381      26,832    59,213 
 Gross Profit                     16,391       8,181    24,572 
 
 
 Half year ended 30-Jun-2019 
 Sales                          33,937   37,674   71,611 
 Gross Profit                   19,180   13,093   32,273 
 

A geographical split of revenue is provided below:

 
                                       Half year       Half year 
                                           ended           ended 
                                     30-Jun-2020     30-Jun-2019 
                                         GBP'000         GBP'000 
 Geographical split of revenue 
 Middle East                               2,596           4,581 
 Africa                                    8,274           7,611 
 Rest of the World                         2,462           2,310 
 United Kingdom                           45,881          57,109 
 Total revenue                            59,213          71,611 
 
   5.         Non-current Assets 
 
                           Property,   Goodwill   Intangibles 
                               Plant 
                         & Equipment 
                             GBP'000    GBP'000       GBP'000 
 Cost 
 At 01 January 2020           33,507     38,585         9,590 
 Additions                     2,401          -            72 
 Disposals                     (798)          -             - 
 At 30 June 2020              35,110     38,585         9,662 
                       -------------  ---------  ------------ 
 
 
 Depreciation and Amortisation 
 At 01 January 2020               11,765       -   1,525 
 Charge for the period             2,083       -     351 
 On disposals                      (740)       -       - 
 Impairment (see note 7)               -   2,504   1,316 
 At 30 June 2020                  13,108   2,504   3,192 
                                 -------  ------  ------ 
 
 
 Net book value 
 At 31 December 2019    21,742   38,585   8,065 
 At 30 June 2020        22,002   36,081   6,470 
                       -------  -------  ------ 
 
   6.         Defined Benefit Pension Scheme 

The Group operates a defined benefit plan in the UK. A full actuarial valuation was carried out on 5 April 2018 and updated at 30 June 2020 by an independent qualified actuary.

A summary of the pension deficit position is provided below:

 
 Pension deficit              GBP'000 
 At 01 January 2020             (253) 
 Current service cost            (10) 
 Net interest income                2 
 Actuarial losses             (2,347) 
 Contributions by employer        728 
 At 30 June 2020              (1,880) 
                             -------- 
 

The key driver behind the actuarial losses is a change in discount rate applied to the pension scheme obligations. The discount rate is based on a yield curve approach, and as a result of the fall in yields on AA bonds, the discount rate applied in the calculation has fallen from 2% in 2019, to 1.5% in the current period.

   7.         Goodwill and Intangibles Impairment Review 

Due to a change in the operational structure of the Group, management has determined there to be an independent CGU in relation the 'Feel Good' business. The 'Feel Good' business previously formed part of the Still Out of Home CGU. The business has undergone a rebrand and now supplies sparkling water. Therefore, the independent Feel Good CGU will now form part of the Carbonate segment.

The identification of Feel Good as an independent CGU and the associated future cash flow forecasts were recognised by management as a potential trigger of impairment. Therefore, an impairment review has been performed for the 'Feel Good' CGU as at 30 June 2020. The CGU had Goodwill with a carrying value of GBP2.5m and Intangible Assets with a carrying value of GBP1.3m. The key assumptions used within the review were forecasts for the next 3 years' performance with 2% growth beyond the forecast period, and a discount rate based on WACC of 8.03%.

As a result of this review, an impairment of GBP3.8m has been recognised as an exceptional item in these financial statements in relation to Goodwill and Intangible Assets from the 'Feel Good' CGU. The impairment is not sensitive to the assumptions on growth and WACC. The impairment loss belongs to the Carbonate reporting segment.

Remaining CGUs to which Goodwill and Intangible assets have been allocated represent the independent Out of Home CGUs which sit below the Still and Carbonate operating segments. Whilst COVID-19 has impacted the Out of Home business, management's sensitised cash flow forecasts, accounting for the potential impacts of COVID-19 in the near to mid-term, indicate sufficient headroom and that there is no need for impairment. Management will continue to review the forecasts and assumptions, in light of the ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty, in the second half of the financial year.

   8.         Contingent Liability 

In respect of the contingent liability disclosed in the 31 December 2019 financial statements, the value of the possible obligation has been updated.

The Group had previously entered into contracts with some of its senior management relating to incentive schemes which were designed to motivate, retain and engage those key employees. HMRC have written to the Group with their initial view that the arrangements should have been taxed as employment income which the Group and its advisors dispute.

If HMRC pursues its current position and is successful in its argument, then the Group may have to pay up to GBP3.4m (GBP3.2m previously reported) in Income Tax and National Insurance. In addition, the Group may have to pay up to GBP0.6m of interest to HMRC that hadn't previously been included.

The employees who are party to the contracts have formally indemnified the Group in relation to income tax and employees' national insurance and an amount of up to GBP2.6m (GBP2.4m previously reported) can be requested from them.

The directors have obtained external advice and on the basis of this do not believe that the Group has a liability for any additional tax or national insurance. In common with such disputes with HMRC it may take some time to settle and the directors are unable to assess how long this will take and the timing of any potential settlement if required.

The likelihood and timing of any potential settlement remains unchanged from 31 December 2019 having been verified in H1.

   9.         Deferred consideration 

Within the Statement of Cash Flows there is a GBP0.9m cash outflow in relation to the payment of deferred consideration. These payments relate to deferred consideration paid for acquisitions made in previous financial years.

   10.       Dividends 

Having reviewed financial performance in H1 and particularly the cash performance of the Group the Board is now confident enough to reinstate a dividend. An interim dividend of 28.0p (2019: 12.4p) will be paid on 4 September 2020 based on a record date of 31 July 2020, the ex-dividend date being 30 July 2020.

   11.       Earnings Per Share 

Basic earnings per share are based on the weighted average number of shares in issue in the six months to 30 June 2020 of 36,937,298 (six months to 30 June 2019 of 36,857,600 and 12 months to 31 December 2019 of 36,857,224).

Adjusted earnings per share has been presented to provide a more accurate view of the underlying performance of the Group, as the calculation eliminates the impact of the impairments to Goodwill and Intangible Assets in the period.

The earnings per share calculations for the period are set out in the table below:

 
                                      Earnings    Weighted average   Earnings per 
                                                  number of shares          share 
                                       GBP'000 
 30 June 2020 
 Basic earnings per share                1,697          36,937,298          4.59p 
 Dilutive effect of share options                            5,711 
 Diluted earnings per share              1,697          36,943,009          4.59p 
 
 Adjusted basic earnings per 
  share                                  5,517          36,937,298         14.94p 
 Dilutive effect of share options                            5,711 
 Adjusted diluted earnings 
  per share                              5,517          36,943,009         14.93p 
 
 

Interim Report

The interim report will be available on the Group's website ( www.nicholsplc.co.uk ) on or around 22 July 2020.

Cautionary Statement

This Interim Report has been prepared solely to provide additional information to shareholders to assess the Group's strategies and the potential for those strategies to succeed. The Interim Report should not be relied on by any other party or for any other purpose.

This information is provided by RNS, the news service of the London Stock Exchange. RNS is approved by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a Primary Information Provider in the United Kingdom. Terms and conditions relating to the use and distribution of this information may apply. For further information, please contact rns@lseg.com or visit www.rns.com.

END

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July 22, 2020 02:00 ET (06:00 GMT)

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