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Financial highlights and results
Our Group in brief
Consolidated segmental analysis
Performance at a glance
External appraisals
Global footprint
Directorate
Chairman’s statement
Chief executive’s report
Financial director’s report
Review of operations
Summarised sustainability report
Corporate governance
Financial statements
Shareholders
Management directory
Shareholders’ diary
Administration
Glossary
AGM notice and proxy
 
Summarised sustainability report  continued
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Disappointments
Five work-related fatalities
 
Challenges
Developing a sustainability strategy and management framework
Empowering employees to create social and “green” business opportunities
Establishing more effective programmes for managing HIV/Aids in the workplace based on recently conducted group-wide research
Attracting and retaining senior-level HDIs
Addressing general skills shortages
Establishing performance tracking of socioeconomic transformation at provincial level
Improving the collation, management and usability of reporting data throughout the Group
Ensuring continued compliance with intensifying environmental regulations

This is the fourth year that Bidvest is reporting on its sustainability performance. The Group is pleased with the progress it is making in promoting sustainable development. As an entrepreneurial multi-national with more than 104 000 employees, Bidvest is well positioned to take a leading role in integrating business, society and the environment.

Bidvest remains a multi-faceted and decentralised operation, encouraging individual businesses to develop within a framework of common values and codes of conduct and ethics. The Group has revisited, further developed its understanding of what sustainability means to the Group, without restricting individual divisions in applying its meaning to their unique context.

Sustainability at Bidvest is about being Proudly Bidvest and presents the opportunity to provide employees with a fresh way of thinking that not only inspires them, but also enables a new generation of entrepreneurs to create business value that addresses and where possible exceeds evolving societal needs and circumstances.

Improved communications have helped increase levels of consciousness and commitment to sustainability. In South Africa, an emphasis is placed on advancing socio-economic transformation. A younger generation of leaders who are HDIs is emerging through the Bidvest Academy and Graduate Academy and assuming positions of significant responsibility. The Graduate Academy includes a divisional project to identify “green” business opportunities.

In the South African operations, improving response strategies to the HIV/Aids epidemic is another focus.

The standardisation of environmental data and the data collation process has improved and environmental data is reported for the first time for some South African divisions. Some businesses are being proactive in improving their environmental performance. A leading example in South Africa is Voltex which works in association with national electricity utility Eskom to promote demand-side management across industry and commerce.

Bidvest strives towards a more energising and proactive approach within a decentralised context. A comprehensive account of the Group’s non-financial performance, including divisional reviews, is provided in the 2007 Sustainability report . The sustainability report follows the Global Reporting Initiative’s G3 guidelines.
 
MANAGING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Sustainable development is an integral part of Bidvest doing business. It is about return on funds employed, sound business practices, risk management, good governance, taking account of stakeholder needs, stewardship of natural resources, BEE and developing employees, an ongoing process of learning and a source of innovation and new business opportunities.

Bidvest is a geographically and multi-faceted business operating on four continents. The majority of the Group’s activities are in South Africa, where 84,3% of its workforce is based. Divisions function independently and on a decentralised basis, managing sustainability objectives and priorities according to their material issues, yet derive benefits from being part of a larger group.

Bidvest provides guidelines for financial management, corporate governance, sustainability reporting and transformation. Executive management take responsibility with support from audit and risk committees. A standalone risk committee reporting directly to the board has been established. Business units monitor and manage day-to-day performance.

Workshops have been held with divisional chief executives and members of their management team to help foster a growing appreciation of the complexities of sustainable development and to enhance their interpretation of what it means to their businesses.

The Bidvest ethics line was re-launched in February 2007 with an extensive marketing campaign to promote this “whistle blowing” mechanism for staff, customers and suppliers.

Given the Group’s unique structure and culture, the implications of sustainability in one business division may be very different from those in another. Bidvest continues to explore and contextualise what sustainable development means for the Group and how best to manage it.
 
Management systems
Business units have implemented or are working on implementing formal management systems where deemed to be of material benefit. In most cases these are generic management system standards for quality (ISO 9000) and environmental (ISO 14000) management, which are independent of product or industry and provide an authoritative indication of how quality, social and environmental activities are managed.

Formal or informal management systems are usually present in business units that deal with hazardous products, have hazardous working environments or where quality is of particular importance.
 
ECONOMIC IMPACT
Bidvest provides employment to 104 184 people and economic benefits to far more. The Group has produced consistent returns for shareholders throughout its 19 years of operation. Results reflect good organic growth and a focus on operational efficiencies.

Bidvest achieved revenues of R95,7 billion (2006: R77,3 billion), trading profit of R4,5 billion (2006: R3,7 billion) and headline earnings reached R2,9 billion (2006: R2,4 billion). R17,0 billion of wealth was created and R10,0 billion (58,6%) distributed to employees and R1,0 billion (5,9%) to government. Total exchanges with government including amounts collected on their behalf amounted to R18,7 billion. Foreign operations contributed 43,5% to Group revenue and 28,7% to trading profit.
 
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