Ariston disposes half of its ownership in Claremont Orchards in US$2 million deal

ZIMBABWE – Ariston Holdings Limited, a horticultural produce dealer, has disposed of 50% of its shareholding in Claremont Orchards Holdings for US$2 million to Tuinbouw Zonder Grenzen, a company registered in the Netherlands.

The transaction, which got regulatory approvals, gives the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed horticultural giant muscle to fund its macadamia nut orchards in Chipinge and Chimanimani, reports NewsDay.

“The transaction has enabled the entry of a foreign shareholder who has undertaken to provide significant funding for expansion of Claremont Orchards into high value fruit and flower offerings primarily for the export market.

“It is envisaged that the sum of the two investments will provide Ariston shareholders with greater value than current,” Ariston noted.

Ariston reported a $19.8 million (US$54,000) comprehensive loss for the year ended September 30, 2021, despite enjoying volume growth on tea, macadamia.

The firm said the loss was mostly caused by rising operating expenses.

It is the latest firm to raise the red flag over rising costs in Zimbabwe, where utility costs have surged in the past year.

Foreign currency shortages have been the driving force behind most cost increases.

Ariston said operating expenses grew to $559.2 million (US$1.54m) in the year under review, from $324,2 million the previous year.

The firm highlighted production costs also rose to $551.4 million (US$1.52m), up from $424.5 million (US$1.17m) during the comparable period last year.

Group revenue closed the year at $1.2 billion (US$3.3m), a growth of 31% compared to prior year.

In terms of operations, Ariston said current year tea production volume improved by 6% due to wetter and cooler weather conditions experienced during the period under review, compared to the same period in the prior year.

“Production volume recovered to 2 748 tonnes compared to 2 582 tonnes produced in the prior comparative period.

“Shortage of harvesting labour led to loss of approximately 300 tonnes of tea not harvested in the current year,” the company said.

On macadamia, production volume improved by 27% from prior year’s 1 063 tonnes to 1 292 tonnes in the current year.

However, average selling prices for exports declined by 7.5%. While the average selling price for large nuts remained the same as in the prior period.

The price for the small nuts and lower quality nuts came under pressure, thereby weighing down on average selling prices.

The fruit category’s production volumes of 3,195 tonnes for the current year improved by 17% from 2.729 tonnes produced in the prior comparative period and yields from the young orchards continue to improve.

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